Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mini Are You Hooked #9

TITLE: The Customer is Always Right
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Sarah wiped the perspiration from her brow with the back of her hand while she rifled through a list of bookings for the evening. The air-conditioning inside the restaurant had blown again and now Bella's Place was not only cooking food, but its Saturday evening customers as well.

'I called yesterday. I spoke to you,' the woman with the big blonde hair said, ice in her voice, her long acrylic nails drumming the counter. 'I asked you to book a table for ten, for tonight. It's my mother's birthday.'

Sarah scanned the chaos on the restaurant floor. Customers sat waiting to be served drinks let alone their food and she didn't even want to look at the long queue of people waiting to be seated. Yet she couldn't help but notice Nina, the boss's daughter, slouched up against the coffee bar chatting up the hot young barista, completely ignoring the disaster surrounding her. Although Sarah had only been working at Bella's for a week, it was long enough time to learn that Nina 'the head waitress' did little waitressing. She was certain that Nina was the one who botched up the bookings the night before because the girl had spent the entire evening at the counter answering phones and taking tips. When Sarah's eyes returned to the blonde woman in front of her, she mustered up as sweet a smile as she could manage over gritted teeth.

'I am extremely sorry, Mrs Lacey.'


  1. I so want to read more of this!

  2. The situation and details are good. I like your protagonist, and her predicament.

    I'm not fully hooked, but I don't know if that is a matter of genre preference. I think I'd rather see the character do or say something sooner - before we get all the background info about Nina in particular. All we HAVE to know at the opening is that Sarah is new, and the problem isn't her fault - what's she gonna do?

    Oh, and I love the description of the overheated restaurant - you know what a miserable day Sarah must be having.

  3. This is such a nicely written piece. I totally can commiserate with the main character right away (so great job on characterization!).
    I'm with The Daring Novelist in that this is outside my genre (I'm always hungry for action right away), but putting my need aside, I think I'd be hooked.

  4. I would read on!

    The only suggestions I would make would be to add more description to make us feel the heat with her. Perhaps she could give her blouse a little tug to stir the air, or something along those lines. Also, I would break your third paragraph after 'surround her' and before 'Although' and before she turns back to the customer to make it a little less wordy. :)

  5. Right now, I am just not hooked.

    Here's the thing--you're dropping me into a really great scene, Bella's place was so hot we weren't just cooking up food, but the Saturday evening customers as well.

    That's a really powerful image... now--let's talk about the dialog. You totally lose me there. You need to give each character a very specific voice, and really make them come alive through the dialog. Don't tell me there was ice in her voice... put it there:

    I see the woman, her acrylic nails drumming against the counter, "Look here, honey. Yesterday when I called, I know I spoke to you. When I asked you to book a table for my mother's birthday did you think I was making a prank call?"

    And then, tell me how Sarah felt when she answered it.

    Sarah knew instantly who screwed it up. Nina, the boss's daughter slouched...

    You know what I mean? I just want to feel what Sarah's feeling in the moment.

    Your writing is really great, so I think you can do this or I wouldn't even say anything. :)

  6. I loved this: now Bella's Place was not only cooking food, but its Saturday evening customers as well

    But I got hung up on how she could wipe perspiration and rifle through bookings.

    Use double quotes, not singles.

    When using an action, you don't need to use an attribution, i.e. "...I spoke to you." The woman with the big blonde hair drummed the counter with her acrylic nails.

    I wanted Sarah to react to the customer, not just go into her thoughts.

  7. I would like to read on for sure. I totally agree with the comments by Jamie above. That is exactly what I would say but Jamie said it perfectly so I won't repeat.

  8. I love how this opens in a restaurant -- neat setting. Also like how there is a conflict right away. It drew me in.

    My main concern comes from the AC breaking. It seems like if it was that uncomfortable (i.e., cooking customers), people waiting for tables would leave and go somewhere else.

    I'd also think about dropping some of the more tellish parts- the "ice in her voice" sentence would be stronger *without* the "ice in her voice" phrase. The sentence "Yet she couldnt help but notice...." would be stronger if it just started with, "Nina, the boss's daughter, slouched (etc)"

  9. I'd read on, because I like the flashes of humour here - especially in the first paragraph.

    That said, I think I'd also appreciate a somewhat stronger voice. Right now the PoV is somewhat distant. Eg. instead of "She was certain that Nina was the one", something like, "Nina had probably botched up the bookings last night" That also picks up the pacing on a sentence-by-sentence level, which I think this could benefit from.

    Could just be a personal preference, though!

    Anyway, good luck with this :)

  10. Not hooked. For me, the situation isn't tense enough, although if the lady who made reservations is a critic or something that could really impact the MC's business, then maybe so.

    I also am not fond of all the telling us about the MC's employee. If she's such a slack-off, why keep her? Even if she's related, the business owner would not want her to jeopardize the business, right?

  11. Author here:

    Thanks so much for taking the time out to comment and give feedback. This really helps! Also a big thanks to the Authoress :)
    Danceluvr, thanks for your comments, however if you read the piece again you will see that the MC is a new waitress, not the buisness owner, so that's why it is a stressful situation for her. But again, thanks for taking the time out for commenting anyway.