Thursday, August 7, 2014

Are You Hooked? #22

TITLE: Operation: One-Night Stand
GENRE: Romance/Chick Lit

I had commandeered the sofa. The beautiful, butter-yellow sofa Sarah had purchased when she first moved to her amazingly spacious two-bedroom apartment almost three years ago now had a probably permanent imprint of my a**. The cushions had become a wasteland overflowing with wads of my snotty tissues and creamy brown stains from my new aptly named addiction – Pint of Tears, smeared the arm. My trusty sidekick, Mr. Bibbles, a childhood stuffed thing – I wasn’t sure anymore if he ever really was a bear – lay oddly contorted at my side providing me with the comfort only a childhood memory could.

For the past six weeks, since Steven and I broke up, I’d lived with Sarah. My best friend, my trusty confidant and, probably, the only person on earth who’d have put up with my s*** for as long as she has. Besides the other third of our trio, Mel. But I’ll get to her later. Of course, my nightly crying fits, my refusal to leave the house for anything other than work and my newly minted status as Ice Cream Dreams’ most valuable customer was, in hindsight, wearing on my friend.

For five years, Steven and I dated. Moved in together. Worked together. Dreamed together. That was before it all went to s***. That was before I found him in my bed with Betsy the Intern. That was before he figured it was okay to add my favorite vibrator into their sexual exploits. That was before I found myself homeless.


  1. The second sentence has too much exposition. You say later that she's living with Sarah and why, and it's fine there, so I'd lose the part about her buying the sofa or that it's in a spacious apartment. It gets there. I would clarify that "creamy brown stains" are (I think) ice cream. I've had babies. At one time creamy brown stains on a sofa were fairly nasty!

  2. I can feel her pain, her depression, and her sense of outrage. (Her trusty vibrator!? Really!? I hate him already!) I like the circle of friendship and support I can sense around her from her friends. I feel like I could know this character, could like her, could want to bring her more ice cream or want to help her key the cad's car. Yeah, I would read more.

  3. I like the idea, but the problem is, nothing happens in the first 250 words. It's all the MC describing her surroundings and thinking about her backstory. I'd suggest trying to move some action up and distribute the backstory more fully through the first couple of chapters. Even if she was talking to someone about the break-up instead of thinking about it, it would be better. But also consider creating a flashback to that moment and moving it a bit later. Then show us the action that gets the plot moving.

    Also, in the beginning, you have Pint of Tears separated with a dash on one side and a comma on the other. I know it's just a typo, but it pulled me out of the scene.

    I might keep reading, but something would have to happen fast. I feel bad for the MC, but I'm not sure yet why I'd want to spend 300 pages with her.

  4. Oh, and make a choice between romance and chick-lit. Is it all about a relationship? Then it's romance. Is it more about her relationship with her roommates, circle of friends, finding herself, etc.? Then it's women's fiction (better not to call it chick lit).

  5. You've got some greats details in this scene, but I'm feeling like it's all scene-setting and back-story. What's happening now and why should I care? Honestly, I'm a little put-off by the MC's wallowing in self-pity and making a mess of her friend's couch. I can see how this could be humorous though. Maybe I'm just not quite getting it. I think it's got potential. My suggestion is to jump into something happening now.

  6. Nice voice and setting details. The first paragraph works because it's a relatable scene. Going from there, I think you need to show characters interact, and show something unique about girls self-medicating with food after a break up. It's so common a thing that it's expected, so what can you do to twist this cliche? Even if the MC admits how cliche she is being is a good way to wink to the reader.

    Watch for "had." It's a necessary word, but if you can drop it entirely or replace with a stronger verb, go for it. Right now the hads are sapping the energy out of that first paragraph.

    The rest of the page is a bit of an infodump. Resist the infodump! Show us your characters doing something worthy of making this the most necessary place to start the story, and those break-up and roommate details can be added in through narrative and dialogue.

    As for genre, I agree with Disco M. Bobulated (I am now groaning at that username--haha). "Chick lit" is a passe term. I'd go with contemporary romance if this is a romance with a Happily Ever After, or women's fiction, as suggested, if it focuses more on female friendships. We all know those genres overlap but for the sake of querying, pick one.

  7. I'm on board with the other comments and mirror sgf's concerns about the main character wallowing for 6 weeks in tears and ice cream and ruining her friend's pretty couch. Liked the use of rhetorical devices. The first sentence isn't a grabber. Story line sounds a bit cliched with catching BF with the intern.
    Love the line about them using her favorite vibrator - a bit icky but still a great humor hit. That might be a stronger opening and elicit sympathy from the get-go versus trying to establish it when she already appears weak and weepy.
    Good luck.

  8. Or maybe this is New Adult? Is your MC in college? NA sort of fills in that chick lit gap. Just a thought! And while I'm here, if you're going for funny, Kristan Higgins writes wonderfully funny contemporary romance.

  9. "But I’ll get to her later."

    This is a little too self aware and breaks the fourth wall.

    The second paragraph delves into a bit of backstory. I get from the title what’s about to happen, but nothing in the scene really gets the action flowing. I agree with Disco that you might want to consider starting somewhere else.

  10. Agree with Ted on "Get to her later."

    My best friend, my trusty confidant and, probably, the only person on earth who’d have put up with my s*** for as long as she has.

    I'd edit to say,

    "My best friend, my trusty confidant, and one of only two people on earth who'd put up with my shit" or something like that. Hint that there's another friend, but it feels awkward to just say, "Oh, and I have another friend."

  11. Sorry, this is ALL tell and backstory. I wouldn't turn the page. It's also a story that isn't unique or different to a million real-life, or imaginary, experiences.

    I think you're starting in the wrong place. Give me a reason to care about the protagonist, an opening that makes me think this isn't like every hard-luck, heart-broken story out there.

  12. I agree. But had you started with," The piles of klenex, the mashed up cushions, the red smeary eyes were all familiar. But I never expected to find myself homeless today." I would have been curious to read through the first part of that. Think, how is this story different from all others in this genre and put that part up front. Or take some poignant place where it's happened and put us there.