Monday, September 17, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #3 - The Lost Spitfire



The Lost Spitfire
Historical
120,000


Query:

In 1936, the prototype Supermarine Spitfire is airborne over England. With his own mortality looming, genius designer R.J. Mitchell turns to the revolutionary jet engine to power one last design.   

In 2012, Jimmy Beaumontt Frank is an aircraft-obsessed eleven year old who hates his middle name 'because it's different', but everything changes when he sees it scratched into the instrument panel of a vintage Spitfire.  His grandfather's papers reveal correspondence between Mitchell and Frank Whittle, the father of the jet engine, charting the secret development of their new aircraft.  With damaged Spitfires fetching millions of dollars, blueprints for an unknown Mitchell design would be priceless.  Jimmy vows to see them preserved in a museum, but a Canadian aviation giant is equally motivated to prevent the blueprints from exposing the plagiarism that launched his career.

In 1940, England has no successor to Spitfire. Mitchell died at the blueprint stage and Whittle's new engine won't fly until the following year. Charles Beaumontt is building Spitfires based on Mitchell's prototype, and not feeling the urge to autograph any of them until he meets Lily, a beautiful Spitfire delivery pilot. She identifies a petty criminal turned German spy, but can't convince Charles in time to prevent a murder and the theft of one set of blueprints.  The Luftwaffe bomb the other set twice while in Charles' possession.

Jimmy will need all the blitz spirit he inherited from Charles and Lily if he is to find the blueprints, preserve Mitchell’s legacy and expose the truth behind Canada's most enigmatic fighter.

First 150 Words:

Germany lost the Second World War three years before it even began. Hitler didn't notice, but Charles Beaumontt knew more than Hitler.

The spring day cooled as it slipped into late afternoon. Charles could taste salt on the damp breeze from the English Channel a few miles to the south. He shivered and drew his overcoat around his slender frame, shoulders hunched, hands thrust into the deep pockets as he gazed skyward. Above him, England's newest fighter soared for the first time, light blue enameled fuselage almost invisible against the grey sky as it wrote the dictator’s future in the clouds. The war's first salvo rang loud across the patchwork fields of the Hampshire countryside. 

The press had left R.J. Mitchell alone for a moment. Charles walked over to the designer of the Supermarine Spitfire and stuck out his hand. "She's beautiful, Mitch. She's going to put a spanner in Hitler's plans, for sure."

15 comments:

  1. This entry caught my eye since I developed a fascination with the Spitfire during my college trip to England years ago. I love the premise and the first 150 words are spectacular. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks for the kind comment Amy. Yes, the Spitfire is an amazing aircraft. One of my favorite pieces of research for the book was sitting in the cockpit of a 1945 Mark XVI Spitfire. Very emotional.

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  2. " a Canadian aviation giant is equally motivated to prevent the blueprints from exposing the plagiarism that launched his career" -- I'd say "magnate" rather than giant, at first I thought you meant a company, not an individual.

    Reading the query as a whole I don't know what to expect, this is listed as a Historical, but most of the focus seems to be on Jimmy. If this were a back-of-book blurb I'd expect a midgrade book about Jimmy, and I'm not sure if that's what you wrote.
    - L (Jane Doe)

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    1. Great feedback, thank you so much for taking the time.

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  3. The query is wordy and a bit confusing. I had to read carefully to figure out who was what, trying to accomplish whatever. IMO, hone it down to just Jimmy and HIS stakes. You don't mention this but if blueprints are priceless, why doesn't an 11 year-old want to make some money for his family? - even museums pay for such things. What will happen to JIMMY if his quest doesn't succeed?
    Your MCs age is problematic if you're shooting for adult-genre historical. One would think his parents would have more interest in, and ability/money for solving this puzzle. Even 11 year-old geniuses fit into MG.
    I hope you can rework the query because your premise stands out in this crowd.
    You have my vote.

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  4. I echo The Revisionist's commentary, but that being said, you have my vote.

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  5. Love the 150 words! And it sounds like a very interesting premise.

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  6. Your query was jumping through time and I got lost around 2012, when you introduced Jimmy. I think you need to narrow your focus on one character in the query. Focus on his story, and how he links the others together.

    I hope this makes sense because I really enjoyed your 150. I love historicals, so you have my vote.

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  7. I'm so curious about an eleven year old who is intent on preserving something in a museum, sounds like a cool kid! I just finished watching Dresden the other night, so WW2 fighter pilots are burned in my brain.

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    1. Thank you so much!! Some things are more important than money and I think these would fall into that category. Also Jimmy finds the blueprints, but he doesn't own then, so in theory any money wouldn't go to him. Makes it easier to be altruistic I guess :-)

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  8. Very interesting topic. The query is good but could be tightened. I suspect you need to pull back a bit and focus on the overriding theme as it effects the mc. I like the first line of the 150, but at this point, I'm sceptical of the claim, partially because I'm not sure if it is made about the Spitfire or the turbojet or what exactly.

    Still, I would read on. I guess what I'm not clear on is how much of this is historical and how much is dramatization. either is fine, but I want to know from the query.

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  9. Lumpy Space PrincessSeptember 18, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Query is way too long and gets confusing b/c there are too many people, each with their own goal. However, I love how well written your opening is, and I'm intrigued by how it appears to switch back and forth between past and present, adult and child. I really, REALLY hope you made it work b/c you've got my vote.

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  10. This premise is really intriguing, and I'd love to read this book. It has a sort of magic lurking in the concept. My father's a pilot so I've been dragged to air museums to look at planes, and he always had a soft spot for the Spitfires. :)

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  11. I’m not sure I completely understood all the inner workings of your story, but I think you might be able to streamline a bit. Maybe something like:

    In the shadow of WWII, Charles Beaumontt is building Spitfire aircrafts based on prototype blueprints cooked up by genius designer R.J. Mitchell and Frank Whittle, father of the jet engine. Beautiful Spitfire delivery pilot, Lily, informs him of a petty criminal turned German spy, but Charles isn’t convinced until a murder proves her right – and a set of his blueprints vanish.

    In 2012, Jimmy Beaumontt Frank is an aircraft-obsessed eleven year old who hates his middle name until he finds it scratched into the instrument panel of a vintage Spitfire. What’s more, his grandfather's papers chart the secret development of Mitchell and Whittle’s new aircraft. With damaged Spitfires fetching millions of dollars, blueprints for an unknown Mitchell design would be priceless. Jimmy vows to see them preserved in a museum, but a Canadian aviation giant is equally motivated to prevent the blueprints from exposing the plagiarism that launched his career.

    Jimmy will need all the blitz spirit he inherited from Charles and Lily if he is to find the blueprints, preserve Mitchell’s legacy, and expose the truth behind Canada's most enigmatic fighter.

    Even if that isn’t quite right, I’d suggest putting your query in chronological order, just so it’s a little easier to follow. If your book jumps between time periods and you want your query to reflect that you could maybe add something like: “If he is to succeed, Jimmy will need all the blitz spirit he inherited from Charles and Lily, whose exploits are sprinkled throughout the narrative in flashbacks.”

    I hope that helps. Good luck! :)

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