Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Secret Agent #30

TITLE: Nice Girls Don't Date Rock Stars
GENRE: 20-something women's fiction

The aisle between Matt and I is narrow but clear, with the moment I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid only a few palpitations away. I had faith it would happen, and this delicious anxiety was worth the wait. Val's hand squeezes mine and I know anyone looking at me will surely see a woman shining like the sun.

It’s warm for February in San Jose. The nightclub’s smoky air is sweaty and thick with lingering notes from the previous song. My brain’s telling me it also reeks of beer cans stewing in recycle bins behind the bar, but my heart is savoring every aspect of the evening.

I always believed hearing my hero perform a song he’d written just for me would be momentous. Right on par with a wedding proposal or my unborn child’s first kick. Alright, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but since sharing my childhood attic bedroom with my older sister Karine, nearly every other dream paled in comparison. Look at Karine’s side of the wood-panelled room and you’d have seen Buffalo Bills and Yankees posters, clippings of Clinton’s presidential campaign, and softball awards. Look at my side and you’d have seen no panelling at all thanks to Matt Hartley’s face and interviews covering every square inch. “You and your artsy-fartsy stuff,” Karine would say each time I tacked up a new page. Her jaunty dismissiveness fell on me with all the power of spring raindrops on a steel roof.


  1. Your first sentence should read "between Matt and me". Also the first two sentences are past tense, then you switch to present. This totally threw me out of the story.

  2. It's cute, like a teenage dream. The past and present tenses worked the way you've written them because someone can be in the present while thinking this is something they had waited for, and that's how you've written it.

  3. As a rock music fan, I was drawn to your title =). Are you an A7X fan? Just noting the Matt and Val reference there =).

    But I like this. A suggestion: can you swap your first and second paragraphs? I think that would work very well for this opening.

    I also like the contrast between the two sisters in the final paragraph. You could shorten that by cutting some of her inner dreams, but otherwise, it works for me.

  4. I really like your writing style. This feels sweet, romantic and happy. :)

  5. Couple of places for improvement:

    "hearing my hero..." the repetition of the sounds jars a bit.

    and the one sister saying to the other "you and your artsy-fartsy stuff" - I could see that if it were ballet or opera covering the walls but a rock star is not usually referred to as "artsy-fartsy"

    Last line - lose an adjective....jaunty dismissiveness, spring raindrops, steel roof - keep two if you must bubt 1 must go otherwise it's too much and bleeds purple.

  6. For some reason the first paragraph made me think "wedding," so the nightclub in the second paragraph was a bit of a shock. Was that the intent? I like it.

    Personally, I want more immersion in the nightclub before her reflections on childhood dreams.

    I love that last line, but I think Jasmine's right - you could lose an adjective or two to give it even more power.

  7. First of all, I have no idea what "20-something women's fiction" is. The genre should be something identifiable at Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Also, this voice feels almost like a teenager to me rather than a twenty-something. For me, it's very hard to get into a narrative that's in present tense and I wasn't pulled in enough by her crush to want to read more. If this were YA, I'd read further, but I want more for an adult read.

  8. Genre choice is odd. Rethink it. You may be in New Adult, a subgenre that's wandered lost in the wilderness but is being rediscovered.

  9. Yes, I agree with the last few comments. Women's fiction seems a little more 'mature' than this scene. Egads, did I just say mature? That sounds OLD, doesn't it. What I meant was the rock star thing seems more like YA.

    When you said the 'aisle between' your MC and Matt, do you mean he is literally across the aisle from you watching a concert, or is he the one perfoming on stage? And are there even 'aisles' in a night club? I'm sorry, I'm confused and can't get a visual on this.

    I like the relationship between your MC and her sister, but it seems to divert the scene. We go from a night club to sharing a bedroom with her sister.

    Sorry. I just didn't connect with this... Now I feel so old!

  10. I'd like to know more about Val! (before you move on to Karine).

    Second para. sets us up well to hear more about "every aspect of the evening" - another reason to stay grounded in the intriguing current opening moment/scene before moving back to heroine's attic childhood.

    A couple of prose suggestions -
    Choose either "lingering" or "previous".
    The reek can simply be from beer itself (consumed in large quantities, spilled, etc) not needing cans / recycle bins, etc. which is an odd juxtaposition of images to be followed by a savoring-heart. (uneven tone)

    Would love to hear more about the nightclub setting in ways that relate directly to the heroine. Is she drinking beer, or has she been, or does she have a drink in her other hand? Is there a raised-stage or just an aisle? Are she and Val standing pressed up close to the bar? Was the previous song also Matt's, or a different performers? A few words here and there could draw out the setting. How many people are around her, watching? If Matt is the Rock Star of the title, there should be hundreds of bodies pressing in around them, I imagine.

    I like the hinted irony in the sentence "Right on par with a wedding proposal..." (since this isn't that kind of aisle!)

    I also like the layers of meaning in the phrase "raindrops on a steel roof"

  11. I was caught by the 20 something women's fiction tag, but I've heard that publishers are beginning to look at younger characters again, so this actually becomes a helpful tag for me. Okay, the first thing that threw me was the POV and poor grammar. Sorry, but I kept stumbling over Matt and I rather than Matt and me. Also, I was thinking "wedding" when I read narrow aisle, not a bar. I do like some of your descriptive scenes and I could practically smell the stale beer in the recycling can and see the paneling on the attic wall. That stated, this needs some work. I think that the paragraphs don't hang together cohesively and although the relationship with her sister is close, I'm not sure that you need to put the details of what's on her side of the wall. Overall, your character comes across as very genuine.

  12. Just wanted to say thanks for all the comments that everyone took the time to share. I've been revising and rewriting this now for about 6 years - and as it's my first manuscript, I think I'm far too close to it anymore to see what the problems are. But I've made notes on everything that was mentioned here, and I'm going to try to back away from it and then come back and see what I can do to sort it out.

    Unfortunately, I think it's the first chapter that's been rewritten the most. One of these years, I will get it right!

    Thanks again. Much appreciated.