Katie Neipris

Untitled by Katie Neipris

On the last night of a summer camping trip, seven friends stayed up all night talking. This would be their last night together before leaving for college and they intended to make it special. The cabin glowed with the warm of their conversation and nothing was off-limits: goals and fears and love and sex.  They made their plans for the future, confident that they would remain together in the scary unknown, irrevocably linked by the unbreakable chain of their oldest friendships. And in their sphere of naiveté, it seemed impossible that they would not stay exactly as they were: the best of friends, the happiest of lovers, the simplest of dreamers.

Exactly one year later, the group finds themselves back in the same cabin, yet nothing could be more different. One year of college has changed them in more ways than they ever thought possible. A death has shattered their innocent existence. The perfect couple is now two strangers, torn apart by an unspeakable secret. The easiness of their friendships has fallen victim to the harsh reality of time and distance. They are no longer seven childhood best friends; they are seven adults, each with their own year’s worth of individual pain and triumph. They have grown too much in too little time, and this loss of innocence has changed them more than they know.

On this night, they will try to figure out just how everything fell apart. On this night they will try to put themselves back together.

Arielle & David: How much people can change in one year is a wonderful premise and a very rich and timeless subject. To analyze a whole group through the vehicle of a novel is a fun and interesting idea that is full of possibility. And to chart the passage from childhood to adulthood via this vehicle is terrific! It’s like a contemporary Big Chill for the 20-something audience. What can be improved? It sounds like the novel is really about the one day when they come back together, not about the year before. If this is correct, you need to concentrate much more on the second paragraph—filling it out—than on the first. You can easily cut the last line, for example, to “It seemed impossible that they would not stay the best of friends.” In fact, the prose gets a little purple without these cuts. If we’re wrong, then you need to make clear that the novel either is divided or cuts back and forth between the two. The one other big issue you have is that there is not a protagonist, at least as far as we can tell. At least for the pitch, it’s very helpful to name a couple characters and let us know who they are. Read the copy on books with a cast of characters to help you pull this off.