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Correspondent
JamieScott
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎06-13-2009
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New Book- "The Underworld of Overacheivers"

Hey guys! This is another book I'm working on (it's related to the earlier Adderall paragraph I posted last month).  It's about a group of teacher's and students who all get involved in an elaborate underground study drug market scandal at Harvard.  Here are two parts that are going to be in different parts of the book, but I want get feedback on both... Thx!

 

*****

Adderall University:

The Underworld of Overacheivers

 

“I’m just going to take some Adderall and clean my room.” 

“You need Adderall to clean your room?”  This was a guy who had written dozens of papers on the theory of relativity and the collective unconscious.  Cleaning my room seemed like the lowest task on the totem poll of daily activities.  That was like needing Adderall to wash my hands or needing Adderall to stir yoghurt. 

 “Well, I don’t need it.  I want it.  It makes cleaning your room amazing like sneezing.”  Wasn’t that a paradox?  “Do you want some?”   

 “Um…”  I didn’t feel like cleaning my room. “Sure.”  My answer was typical of the after school specials that people roll their eyes at.  The next 10 years were not.  There on September 5th - 9 months into the 21st century, I swallowed what would soon become my white rabbit.  Blue rabbit if we want to be trite.   

 

It was like a race car driver had gotten control of my brain.   One by one every shirt on my floor folded themselves into perfect stacks in rainbow color order.  The red shirt T-shirt from my high school, the red v-neck from Saks, the orange, yellow, green, blue, purple tank tops…all the way down to grey and black.   Three hours later, I looked around at my dorm room and had no idea where that attention to detail had emerged from or where the hours had gone.  Had I really just spent three hours stacking my school books in alphabetical order within their appropriate height sections?  Yes, I had.  And wanted to do it again and again and again.  I jumped into the shower and out.  I blow dried my hair like I was prepping for Broadway.  I put my make up on like I was Van Gough.  My red v-neck shirt from Saks fit a little better from the weight I had lost from hardly eating for two weeks.   

 

I looked stunning.   

 

**** 

 
They taught our freshman seminar on Nietzsche, of course.  Our first class was on “The Will to Power” and the quest to become the Overman, of course.  It couldn’t have been more perfect had our seminar been on Hitler. 
There were two of them.  They were 27.  They gave us D’s on A papers.  40 % ‘s on tests we had Aced.  And then they offered us Adderall to improve our grades at $4 for 3 pills- a deal on campus.  "You should really buy some or we're going to have to fail you." They said. Did we have a choice? Did we want a choice? "You can get one pill free for every 21." A tawdry, yet effective promotional strategy that was only missing a cardboard card and a stamp.  An elaborate accounting profit and loss spreadsheets with associated graphs tracking each student’s amount and date purchased plus average consumption rate versus grade averages, replaced them.   
 
The difficulty of the tests and grades went up and down like the stock market.  Could the dean accuse them of giving too difficult tests if last weeks test was 50% easier?  Could I really complain about a bad grade if the week before it had been good?  And if I did, would anybody have time to care or believe me?        
 
When I finally caught on to their effective sting operation, my friends and I were more than prepared to steal their business.  New bank accounts had been opened.  Space on our old wooden dorm shelves was cleared.  Dozens of Tylenol and Excedrin, Sudafed bottles were bought, emptied and displayed perfectly. Our room looked like what it was- CVS on prescription crack.   We were paying $35,000 for this education.  It was time to make some money off of our teacher’s brains like real teachers.  Succumb to the will to power, if you will, that we were clearly capable of. 
*****
...everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath
Distinguished Correspondent
marilynpsychic
Posts: 267
Registered: ‎09-20-2008
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Re: New Book- "The Underworld of Overacheivers"

Hi Jaime!

 

Very interesting chapters!  And you certainly don't hesitate writing about controversial topics, that make others cringe.  (For research, you may want to check out a book here on B&N:  "Dark Alliance:  The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion" by Gary Webb)

 

As usual, your descriptions are vivid and engaging.  I'm just a little unclear on this "drug scandal".  Is this an approved underground drug study?  Or are the kids getting hooked and only think they're participating in an official study?  Is all the mis-grading true, or just the perception of the addicted students? 

 

Illegal drugs are all about money-and-manipulation.  Are these pills provided free?  Or does she and the others have to pay for them?  (An old trick with drug dealers, is to give someone their first pill/drug for free.  But when the buyer starts "needing" more, then there is a price tag.)

 

And I'd like to see some pungent description of these teachers/profs.  And, if it is an approved study, who set it up or started it.  (The above-referenced book may help.)  And you hinted that this is based on a real Harvard scandal?

 

The Adderall University and Adderall drugs are a little confusing too.  If you want to keep the school as Adderall, I'd call the drugs something else.  Someone gives her an "upper" so she can clean her room like a speed-demon, so you could just say "upper" or "downer".

 

I'd also like to see the moment she discovers she's addicted.  (Maybe that's in another chapter you haven't posted yet.)  Does she feel tricked and manipulated?  Angry and deceived?  Scared that she is now an addict?  (More than one undercover detective has gotten addicted while investigating illegal drugs.)

 

So far, a fascinating story!  I look forward to reading more excerpts.

"I'm a writer. I give the truth scope." Chaucer (character) in movie "A Knight's Tale"
Correspondent
JamieScott
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎06-13-2009
0 Kudos

Re: New Book- "The Underworld of Overacheivers"

Thanks so much for the help and I'm glad you find it interesting. I find the "cringe worthy" topics more fun to delve into... I'll check out that book.  The Adderall University title comes from the book titled "Prozac Nation".  The university isn't actually called that, but if that's unclear, I'll change it. 

 

It's not a legal drug scandal at all.  The teacher's are basically giving their students an ultimatum- to buy drugs off of them or fail the class.  One of the main characters who is up in arms about this will have secretly been supplying the teacher's with the drugs all along.    

 

This isn't based on an actual Harvard scandal, but is inspired by the "black market" for Adderall and Ritalin on college campuses everywhere.    

 

I love your ideas so feel free to let me know any others you have!  Thx again!

 

 

 

 

*****
...everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath
Inspired Wordsmith
twilight_fanatic_01
Posts: 1,162
Registered: ‎01-02-2009
0 Kudos

Re: New Book- "The Underworld of Overacheivers"

Hey, Jamie!

 

Well, first of all I must congragulate you--you're tackling a topic that a lot of authors wouldn't dare to manhandle merely because of the intense seriousness of the subject. I know for a fact that I'll never be able to write a story about drugs because I can't comprehend exactly how powerful pills and powders can be, so kudos to you!

 

Second of all, I agree that Marilyn has some impressive points: By calling the drug "Adderall" is bound to confuse a lot of people with the university, and it's necessary that it has to be changed. There's bound to be some catchy nicknames you can come up with for the drug, for the same reasons people call marijuana "weed" or "mary jane".

 

Your characters also need a little more shape. You have a very vivid way of describing your surroundings and your character's actions, but you don't always describe the characters themselves. This makes your protagonist as flat as paper, and if you want to shape her I'd advise slowing down a bit to add in more emotions and physical-likeness to them. Characterization is hard to do and doesn't always come naturally, but with practice, you will learn how to create round characters in due time.

 

Hope this helps, and good luck writing!

Correspondent
JamieScott
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎06-13-2009
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Re: New Book- "The Underworld of Overacheivers"

Cool. Thx so much for the suggestions!  What's an example of a sentence that I could incorporate to develop this character more (or all of my characters)?  I need to learn what from my perspective is missing in terms of bringing a character to life, so they don't fall flat on the page. 

 

Thx again so much for the indepth insights!   

*****
...everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath