Thursday, August 7, 2014

Are You Hooked? #ALT-1

GENRE: New Adult Romance

Lindsay’s measurements were even more impressive than quite a number of A-list celebrities. Or so she said. Not the celebrities in the boring movies, she assured me. Her measurements were up there with the bimbos who’d started out in cheesy videos and then turn up as the romantic lead in adventure blockbusters starring craggy but weirdly youthful movies stars left over from the eighties.

Today Lindsay wasn’t quite so satisfied.

“I look like s*** in this crap,” she said.

She smoothed the expensive Patagonia top-layer shell coat over her waist, trying to create darts where no darts existed. “I look like the Michelin Man. This would fit, like, anyone.”

She was right that the gear did not exactly delineate her perfect hip-to-waist ratio, though it didn’t come any smaller.

I spent my adolescence listening to metal-mouthed middle school boys call me a whale or bark at me at my locker. Even after I’d reached real adulthood and ditched almost all that extra weight, I got nervous every time I glanced in the mirror. My own reflection still felt like a Halloween costume, like a Cinderella spell that surely would disappear at midnight. Or worse, in a dressing room, trying on swim suits.

And that made it a whole lot harder to listen yet again to skinny, perfect Lindsay complaining while she stared at herself in our apartment’s cheap full-length mirror.

“You should wear this coat, Emma. It’s probably big enough,” she said.


  1. Ouch. Like, seriously ouch. Can Lindsay be any snarkier. I think I would read on just to (hopefully) see her fall on her perfectly proportioned butt.

    I like Emma. I feel for Emma. I want to see Emma become strong and self-assured, and ditch Lindsay. If the rest of your story give me some of that, I think you are on to something!

    The only issue I have is the line "Or worse, in a dressing room, trying on swimsuits." After I read it a couple of times, I understood what you meant, but the fact that her reflection feels worse than a Halloween costume in that situation was not immediately clear. Maybe tinker with the wording a bit so that it is clearer.

  2. Ouch. That was my first thought as well, so you definitely made me feel for Emma. She is immediately a relatable character. However, if Emma is the star of this show, she needs to be more prominent in the beginning than Lindsay. As amusing as the comparison of LIndsay to bimbos is, it feels extraneous. One way to solve this would be to have Emma herself think this rather than relate Lindsay's opinion of herself. In other words, Everything should be filtered through Emma.

    Although I like the setting and I like Emma's situation (ouch, ouch, ouch), I think some of your language could be more precise. For example, 'cheesy' is a vague word. It's definition depends on who's talking. There is also a tense conflict in that sentence '...who'd started out' would have to be paired with '...then turned up in...' Or instead '...who start out...' with '...then turn up in...'

    I really like 'metal mouthed' though.

    I can see Emma's problem, though perhaps not her conflict here. But this is a promising start. I would keep reading to see if Emma gives Lindsay a slap.

  3. Your words paint pictures (I loved metal-mouthed middle school boys!) and I would keep reading. I do agree with a couple of the other comments though. Keep the focus on Emma and her thoughts since she's the main character (I thought it was Lindsay's story until I read, "...she assured me"), and make every word count.

  4. I'm intrigued! Emma immediately comes off as someone I want to root for. Your characterizations are already compelling, even with such a short excerpt.

    That being said, I do think the opening few paragraphs could be tightened up more, both in language and pacing. Instead of the observations Lindsay makes about herself, I'd be more hooked by Emma's own words. After "Or so she said," could be a good transition into Emma's inner monologue. That way, we know right off the bat who our main character is!

  5. I like this a lot; the voice is solid and believable and the writing is clean.

    The only issue I have, which I see that the others have also mentioned, is that Emma is essentially an invisible observer until the sixth paragraph--other than the brief 'she assured me' at the beginning, the reader doesn't know she's there.

    You probably just need to reorder some things, or add a brief line up front that clearly puts us into Emma's POV and gives some sense of her from the start, and that would clear up the problem.

  6. I agree with the other comments. It's easy to sympathize with Emma. I love the paragraph that starts, "I spent my adolescence ..." Conveys so much about Emma and makes us empathize (and it's funny and engaging). I was a little confused by the last line though.
    I was also confused by the opening paragraph. I was imagining a male MC and initially thought Lindsay was maybe a girl he'd met online who was telling him her measurements (?) So I agree with others in the suggestion that you want to make sure your MC and her POV are front and center in your opening lines.
    I think with some tweaking this can work really well. :)

  7. I had a little trouble with how this scene is organized; from the start, it read to me like third person POV. By the time I got to "I" I realized someone else was narrating. I think starting the focus with your main character will help so we more clearly see Lindsay through her eyes.

    I wanted to go there with you on the celebrity 80s reference but it sort of lost me. I think you're on the right track. With New Adult your target audience is college & early adult, most of whom were born in the 90s rather than 80s. So words like "bimbo" "video" and '80s movies to me feel a bit dated. I don't mean you need to replace those words with slang that will go out of style next month, but word choice is crucial, and for NA I expect to see something a little more current.

  8. I pretty much concur with everything above.

    “She smoothed the expensive Patagonia top-layer shell coat over her waist, trying to create darts where no darts existed.”

    I have no idea what darts has to do with the coat. Clearly, I’m missing something important.

    “She was right that the gear did not exactly delineate her perfect hip-to-waist ratio, though it didn’t come any smaller.”

    Here you beautifully relay everything your first paragraph did in just a few succinct words. I would consider snipping the first paragraph.

  9. I was disorientated from the start as my first thought was - measurements of what? Took a while to realise she was talking about her body. The POV was also a bit difficult to follow.

    This is followed by a far bit of telling and backstory, which can usually wait until after the first page when you're trying to hook the reader.

    Starting with Lindsay sets a tone for the book that doesn't appeal to me. Even though it becomes apparent (eventually) that Emma is our protagonist. By the time I realise this, you've already lost me as I'm flicking though the first page in the book store deciding whether to buy or not.

  10. Your voice is very strong, and the writing is smooth. My concerns were more big picture than line-by-line.

    The first is what other people have mentioned--the opening is focused on Lindsay (who isn't very likable) and you MC gets lost.

    The second is with Emma herself. When she finally appears, she's so down on herself and she puts up with so much garbage from Lindsay that instead of coming across as sympathetic, she comes off as just pathetic. I do understand her situation. There were times in my life when I let people talk to me like that when I should have walked away. And that's the problem. I really don't want to go through them again vicariously. Now, I assume Emma will find her strength and eventually stand up for herself, but I don't think I"m willing to hang around to watch.