Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Name That Genre: Critique Round #9

TITLE: Friendzone
GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance

I was walking Cassidy Freeman home from the Fall dance. Cassidy freakin’ Freeman. I, Seth Waters, walking Cassidy Freeman home. Me, weird unsociable art freak, walking next to the most popular girl in school and she actually knew I was there! Dude, way to make yourself sound weirdly pathetic.

It’s not a big deal, I reminded myself. Which was true as Cassidy was crying because her (ex)boyfriend was at the dance with her (ex)best friend, which put a damper on my good mood. It was barely seven o’clock so the sun was still out and it wasn’t very romantic, not to mention I was holding her heels, because she kept tripping in them, and not her hand. But still. Cassidy freakin’ Freeman.

“You’re such a nice guy,” Cassidy said, in her slightly choked voice as she attempted to wipe tears from her cheeks. “What’s your name again?”

I felt myself slump over a bit in defeat because she still didn’t know my name. We’d been in the same class since third grade, our lockers had been next to each other since freshmen year, we’d talked nearly every day and she didn’t even know my name.

“Seth.” I forced myself to keep the disappointment from showing in my voice or on my face, as I grinned a tight grin, feeling shorter suddenly. That’s the power of beautiful girls, my mom would tell me, they can make you feel like the greatest hero who ever lived or less than two feet tall. Sometimes both at the same time, she’d add.

“Right. You’re so nice and just the best friend a girl could ask for.” She continued as we walked down the sidewalk, her leading while I followed along behind her like the love sick puppy I was.


  1. Personally I'm tired of the geek falling in love with the popular, beautiful girl who doesn't know who he is but in the end they fall madly in love trope. I get that you are trying to add voice by adding Freakin' between her name but it is not working for me. The only other thing that bothered me was a dance that ends at 7:00 in the evening. It seems a little early. Dances where I'm from end at midnight. On the plus side you are a good writing and add do a good job getting the story across.

  2. I love the tone and voice of this piece. My one suggestion -- I don't think you need 'defeat because' and think the line would be stronger as: 'I felt myself slump over a bit. She still didn't...' That said, I'd happily keep on reading.

  3. I like your protagonist immediately and I like the familiar friend zone thing although you will have to work hard to set it apart from others. The voice is good in this though and makes me want to keep reading.
    I agree you don't need the defeat. Just show us the defeat in the body language. Also, he could tell her in dialogue that they'd been in the same class rather than explaining it to the reader. We don't need too much info because we know he likes her but she doesn't know he exists. Overall though, I was intrigued.

  4. I enjoyed reading this entry. So many great entries here.
    The fact that the story is written from a guy's point of view is quite original. The voice is very nice too. It grabbed me from the start. The only thing that does not make sense to me is when you say "she actually knows I am here" because it does not sound that way. She sees him every day and even talks to him every day but does not remember his name. That sounds like the worst human being in the world. And she is only using him here. But it's funny how they contrast. And I was wondering why you put (ex) in parentheses? Are they ex now that she saw them together or did she break up with them a while ago? It does not work for me.
    That's true that the story does not sound very original: the art antisocial guy (why do artists need to be antisocial or geeks?) falling for the popular girl (who won't be popular anymore once she graduates) needs a serious twist to reel in more readers. But still I loved the POV and would keep reading. I always say even overdone stories are enjoyable to read when done well. Goof luck.

  5. This is a cute scene. I appreciate the nerdy gushing about getting any attention whatsoever from a popular kid (I remember what that felt like ;) ). I worry that it's too internal. We're mostly in the MC's head, obsessing about every detail of this phenomenon where they're together. On the outside, the girl is crying and they're walking, and I'm not sure we need to focus quite so much on the OMG-ness of it rather than what's actually happening in the scene.

    I question the last sentence of the first paragraph. The switch in tense jars me out of the narrative.

    There's a bit of hand-holding in the fourth paragraph. We know why he slumped in response to her dialog, so you don't need to tell us twice in that paragraph. I'd remove one or both of the references to her not knowing his name.

  6. I'm so glad this one made it because I wanted to read more. I love it. It reads smooth, is full of voice, and you packed a an emotional moment many of us can relate to. The only thing I don't like is "my mom would tell me." This makes for a confusing shift change and would be better as "my mom told me."

    The (ex) in parentheses works for me because it's part of the voice and very much high school thinking.

  7. This reminds me of the movie Can't Buy me Love. I feel like this is a familiar trope and it needs to stand out more at the beginning in order to make it unique. Show us how this is different from others right at the start. Good luck!

  8. I am wondering if ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend might be better just spelled out.

    When you use the dialog, if you set it apart as its own paragraph, it slows the reader and makes the words stick. To include it with continued narrative makes the reader skip over it quickly. I think you could get more power from the dialog to slow it down.

  9. Perhaps consider starting a bit earlier. All we get here is a boy walking home a crying girl. We do learn why she's crying, but we have no idea how the MC got involved.

    Perhaps start a tad earlier and show us what happened. How did he get involved in the situation? She obviously wasn't hanging out with him if she didn't even know his name, so why didn't her own friends, or whoever she went to the dance with, comfort her and walk her home?

    Those events would probably make for a more interesting and active opening. Or show this opening, rather than having your MC explain things to the reader.

  10. Agree. with SD King. I love when the dialog sticks out. Great voice. "What's your name," broke my heart....even thought there is an abundance of geek v. hot chick in the stacks.