The Tattered Box by Paul Schumacher
THE TATTERED BOX is about a young man named John who is desperate to understand and connect with his Grandpa Bill. John is unexpectedly granted that chance when he is transported back to 1941. Both he and his grandpa are 18 years old, and he gets to experience firsthand his grandpa’s stories. They play baseball together in the snow and enjoy a double date with a woman John later figures out is his grandma.
They also confront a few tragedies. Bill attempts to rescue a little boy who falls through thin ice, forcing him to reconsider his love for baseball. He also faces an unsuccessful engagement to a woman he thought he loved. All of this is enveloped with the imminent threat of war, as John knows how World War II will forever impact his family.
The story is partially told through mementos contained in a box, a gift fron Bill to John to highlight important events in his life. But the items take on a life of their own. The muddy ball becomes a real-life story of baseball and perseverance. The toothpick transforms into a story of family and laughter, and the small, wool mitten changes into a story of rescue and heartbreak.
I am an active member of the Northern Colorado Writers and have been published in over 25 technical journals and proceedings around the world. I have really enjoyed extending my writing skills to fiction, and I look forward to collaborating with you to share this story with others.
The Book Doctors: We like that you put your title first. We like to mention our title several times during a query, because it makes your book seem like a book already. We think you have a good story on your hands here, a classic time slip tale where a guy gets to be the same age as his granddad, and there’s a boy falling through a crack in the ice who our hero must save from drowning. We really like the memento box. But some of this plot is just too familiar. When our hero goes back and has a double date with his own dad, it feels derivative of Back to the Future. And Back to the Future had a better payoff because the hero’s mom had a big crush on him and tried to make out with him. Totally gross! The lack of payoff plagues the entire pitch. You have this great premise but you don’t make us see what you’re going to do that’s unique and new and different. Some of it is just so general. Don’t tell us that things are desperate like you do at the beginning of the pitch. Show us a scene of desperation between a grandfather and his grandson. Show us the kid falling through the ice, make our hearts race and make us marvel at the beauty of your imagery. And let us in on why this might put somebody off baseball. The bottom line is that you don’t give us enough to hang our hat on. This is your audition to show us how you can create a scene quickly and economically that moves us, dazzles us with your storytelling skills, how you paint word pictures that linger in the mind and heart. It would also be great to have some comparable titles so we understand where this books sits on the bookshelf. Lastly, we would have some fun with the stuff you’ve written for technical journals. Trot out one of the most obscure or ridiculous titles of an article you’ve written. And you can just nix the part about how you enjoy extending your writing skills.
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