Monday, May 16, 2016

Are You Hooked? Adult Genre Fiction #3

TITLE: Be Brave
GENRE: Adult - Contemporary Romance

“Be Brave” is ~95K words and is a contemporary romance.  Kate and Noah go from nurse and doctor to colleagues nearly overnight.  Add in a ton of sexual tension, a large and nosy family and a traumatic past, and Kate and Noah are on a roller coaster ride.                                                 

"Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses, Ms. Murphy", the recruiter says.  This was the first step in a long day of interviewing for a position as nurse practitioner to the junior
cardiovascular surgeon at Children's Hospital in Chicago. My schedule for the day included meeting with the nurse manager of the pediatric intensive care unit, as well as the head of the
department, Dr. Don Summers, and my would-be boss, Dr. Noah Williams.  Dr. Williams was the newest surgeon on the team and I was interviewing for the position as his NP.  My job would
include assisting him in the OR, rounding with the team as a whole, and managing the care of the kids after their surgery.  From surgery to discharge, they would have my smiling face guiding
them through.

Twirling the claddaugh ring that my folks gave me for my sixteenth birthday, I remark "I would say that my weaknesses are a drive for perfection, which can lead to some really long days for me and, on occasion, unrealistic expectations of others.  I give my all and expect that of those around me.  I have learned over time how to harness that energy to inspire those around me instead of butting heads.  I don't subscribe to the 'eating your young' philosophy that, unfortunately, happens with sometimes nurses.”  I know my response sounds trite as it comes out of my mouth.  But it would be bad form to say ‘weaknesses?  What weaknesses?’


  1. I love the last line in this "But would it be bad form to say 'weaknesses? What weaknesses?" That makes me think she's going to be a really interesting character!

    I think spending some time researching conventions will help you here. For example, your logline is pretty generic and doesn't key into the main conflict of your story. An agent would have a hard time knowing what they are signing up to read. Loglines are tough! There are lots of websites that will help you get the gist.

    Another issue (easy to correct) is the big blocks of copy. This makes it pretty hard to read, so breaking that up will help.

    Finally, the first paragraph includes a lot of proper names -- people we haven't met and aren't sure will be important to the story. I have a tendency to start skimming at that point.

    I sense an interesting story in here, and an unusual heroine -- that's the hard part, so bravo on that. Getting a handle on conventions will help provide the needed shape.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I think this is going to shape up to be an interesting story, and I'm curious how they're going to end up as colleagues when they're starting out as nurse and doctor - is Kate also in medical school or did I miss the distinction? I also thought the first paragraph had a lot of information that could be revealed a little more slowly, maybe through dialogue. But I like our sassy heroine and am interested in the setting - should be a fun read!

  3. Great title and trope from which you can extract tons of conflict and tension. However, the logline lacks specifics and doesn’t adhere the general guidelines for loglines. For example, a logline shouldn’t include the word count and genre but should include a main character (MC)’s goal and stakes:

    The logline and excerpt are dominated by telling (this is a no-no in dialogue, too). Better to show us the character as via your lovely and vivid detail of her twirling her Claddagh (I prefer the capitalized form) ring around her finger. More of that, please!

    Other than the first line, the entire first paragraph is backstory, introduces multiple characters—and can be cut. Focus on the MC. (The Claddagh ring sentence would work well as the second line of the opening. Also, her last name is Murphy. Is she Irish or of Irish descent? Show—don’t tell—us how affects her perspective? Does everything seem to tower over her and rush past her in Chicago because she’s from a dairy farm on the West Coast of Ireland? Or is she a local from Bridgeport who’s out of her league on the chi-chi Magnificent Mile?) Triage and save only the essential personnel in the opening. You can ditch the recruiter. And it’s better if you do. Because there’s no need to tell us how intimidating the doctors are. Have a high-powered surgeon interview the young nurse and show her quaking in her Dansko clogs.

    Highlight such conflict/tension and the MC’s worst fears. These are fantastic story elements and you have them in spades, you just need to bring them out via actions, expressions/gestures, dialogue (via showing not telling), and setting. (Having the doctor interview her is a start.) And make that dialogue shorter and snappier. STAT. You may want to read some opening pages from this blog and other blogs that host writing contests and from your favorite books and dissect how other writers use these instruments (action, expressions, etc.) to cut to the chase.

    Your last line is terrific. Such specificity in this and the Claddagh ring line = voice. Work that great humor to hook us. For example, what might the irreverent doctors and nurses call the Children’s Hospital of Chicago? (Chic? Chick? Chi-Chi? And how does that relate to your character?) Good luck!

  4. This didn't hook me; the opening seemed to be a bit of an info dump. I think the information about the job she's interviewing for could be woven into the story a bit better - I'm more interested in hearing about the interview itself than the position. How does she feel - is she nervous? I'm always nervous when I interview for something - let me feel all your character's feels!

  5. The premise is perfect for a romance, just rework your logline as others have suggested to get the main points across.

    Others have mentioned reworking your start and I agree it would make it stronger. Try not to have such long sentences (26 and 35 are the count of two!). A good way of checking your work is to read it aloud. Not only does it help you find errors (your brain processes differently when you read aloud as to when you read in your head) but you will find where you need to breathe - a hard thing to do in a long sentence.

    Good luck!

  6. Love the premise and your voice at the end of the first page. I think this would be more interesting if you added tidbits of how she feels when she goes through her schedule for the day...make her voice shine in the first line/paragraph. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Love the premise and your voice at the end of the first page. I think this would be more interesting if you added tidbits of how she feels when she goes through her schedule for the day...make her voice shine in the first line/paragraph. Thanks for sharing.