Wednesday, January 22, 2014

First Two (Adult Fiction) #15

GENRE: Women's fiction

Do you always have to be right? Do you love puzzles and trivia? Are you outgoing, vivacious, and engaging? Do you usually find yourself surrounded by less intelligent people? Do you want to win $250,000? We're looking for smart, spunky 21 to 25-year-olds, for an exciting new reality competition! Email Stephanie your name, age, a photo, and a little about yourself for more information.

"I’ve got something to do 2night, but u can spend the night if u want to hang."

Hours later, this was the text I got in response to asking my boyfriend if he wanted to go out to dinner? He’d taken so long to reply that I’d not only eaten a sandwich, I’d also bought an umbrella, tried on half a dozen pairs of shoes, and walked 10 blocks to get home.

Plus, I could sleep there if I wanted to “hang”? Gee, how romantic!

But, still, I hadn’t seen him in a week or so…

You shouldn’t let yourself be at his beck and call, I told myself.

I’m not! I insisted. I am a strong, liberated woman who would like to spend time with her boyfriend this evening. I was the one who suggested getting together at the last minute.

It didn’t take long to pack a bag. A short walk and three Metro stops later, I knocked on Dominic’s front door.

I strained to hear if he was coming, but couldn’t make out anything over the rain and the wind. Shivering, I rubbed my hands on my arms as I waited. What’s taking so long? Maybe I should ask if he ever found that key he made me. Oh, well. At least my new umbrella kept me dry.

Finally, the door swung open. “Hey, Jen!” Dominic greeted me with a smile and a kiss. His stubbly chin scratched my face. He knew I didn't like that. His dark hair was tousled, as if I’d gotten him out of bed. I wondered if he wasn’t feeling well.

“Is everything OK?,” I asked.

“Sure thing, babe. Come in, come in.” He wore tattered gray sweatpants and a dirty white tank top. He must be sick. Or he needed to do laundry.

I hung my coat in the hall, then followed him into the living room. I plopped into my spot on one end of the sofa. Dominic usually sat in the middle.

“Thanks for coming to keep me company. I need to finish this level.”

What? Then I noticed the video game controller lying overturned on the other end of the couch. He set it aside to let me in. That’s what took him so long to get to the door. He’d played to a good spot to save his game. This was what he “had to do?”

Pizza boxes, beer bottles, and sandwich wrappers littered the room. “Dom? Did you leave the house today?”

“I gotta beat this level!”

Seriously? “What about your job?”

“You know we get personal days to use whenever.”


  1. This is a great concept, but the ad doesn't fit with the rest of the pages. I know it's important, but it's just thrown up there without any sort of grounding into the scene.

    I like he set up with the loser boyfriend. This tells us right away that something needs to change for Jen.

  2. I was hooked by the ad but there was no connection with the rest. This may be a personal preference, but I don't find inner dialogue intriguing. I wonder if you could do something like have Jen talking on the phone to a friend about not being at Dom's beck and call and her debate to go over there and possibly have the ad on the tv in the background? Just a thought to have more action instead of reflection to open the MS

  3. Like the others, I was waiting for the ad to connect with the rest. I think, as Ali C suggests, you could have her on the phone, commiserating with a friend about Dominic, when she hears/sees the ad. Lightbulb moment. Hangs up. Sends off her info. That would grab readers, particularly those of us who have had a slacker boyfriend.

    Also, I'd cut the interaction with him, make it shorter. We see what we need to about Dom fairly quickly, and so it's a matter of getting our heroine to answer that ad. She can mull over her life at other times in the story; let her be spontaneous right now.

    I like a spunky, intelligent female lead, even if she needs to be pushed into action and ends up in over her head, which is where I suspect you'll take this. Good luck. It's a fun start!

  4. I have to agree with the commenters above who pointed out that the ad shouldn't be part of your open. One more thought is that when she basically admits to us right up top to being something of a doormat and then the boyfriend is immediately SO awful, it's hard to feel that this is a woman we'd want to spend another 200 odd pages with. I suggest giving us some persuasive reason to understand why she's with him, so that we feel more compelled to stay with her and see what happens. Good luck!

  5. I agree with the other comments that the opening ad is misplaced. Also I wonder why she is surprised that he has been gaming all day as it seems they have been together long enough for her to be expecting a key and she has a usual spot on the couch.

    I do like the internal conflict she has between wanting to be with Dominic and not wanting to be taken for granted

  6. I also was disappointed the ad didn't pay off right away. It's almost like a prologue. But I kind of liked that I was going "don't be a doormat," thinking he'd been out with someone else he couldn't get into bed with, so she could come keep him warm, but yet "forget" to give her a key, etc., and then he's just a gamer. I was surprised, which I liked.

  7. Hello, and thanks for sharing your story with us!

    So, as some of the other comments recommended, the ad doesn't work in the beginning. I find myself tripping over it, not wanting to read so many questions as an opening, and struggling to find what that has to do with boyfriend text.

    Love the internal conflict about being a booty call. Very real life! And I love how he's portrayed as a sort of "loser" guy. In fact, I know some people like this...

    Anyway, I feel like it's a stronger lead to start with the relationship drama. That has me interested in reading more.

    Good luck!

  8. Hi--I actually liked the intro, as it tells us so much about how the protagonist sees herself (spunky, smart, etc.) which is immediately undercut by her relationship with this loser-guy. Perhaps just link it a bit better (since you're giving us her interior dialog) by having her eager to tell him all about it? I actually like interior dialog, so long as it's really providing character info.
    I'd def keep reading.

  9. Hi--I actually liked the intro, as it tells us so much about how the protagonist sees herself (spunky, smart, etc.) which is immediately undercut by her relationship with this loser-guy. Perhaps just link it a bit better (since you're giving us her interior dialog) by having her eager to tell him all about it? I actually like interior dialog, so long as it's really providing character info.
    I'd def keep reading.

  10. Well, the title tells us about the novel but the opening scene does not, except, perhaps, for justification for Jen answering the ad when her guy is such a loser.
    She knocked on Dominic's front door, standing in the cold. Did he own a house? I imagined an apartment.

    I liked the detail about buying an umbrella.

    You repeated the idea about Dominic being sick in two paragraphs. In the second, if you just said maybe he needed to do laundry, it would be funnier and more sardonic.
    IMHO, italics are not necessary for internal thoughts. We know we are in the MC head.

    But you have a MC who wants to be on a reality show. That is a good hook. Use it better.

  11. Since the ad paragraph wasn't included in your entry for the Secret Agent contest, I'm wondering if you're using it as a kind of epigraph at the beginning of the chapter in your manuscript, but there just wasn't a way to show that here.

    If that's the case, I can see how it would work fine. If not, I do agree with everyone that you would need some kind of transition to lead into what comes after it.

    When I read the shorter excerpt, I thought it sounded quite genuine -- I didn't feel that the voice was too young for a twenty-something girl -- but it just didn't pull me in because everything that was introduced was a little too ordinary; it was a situation I would imagine that countless young women are in every day.

    Getting to the next page and seeing that there's apparently something more than 'ordinary' going on with the boyfriend makes it much more interesting. So I'm wondering if perhaps you need to include something that makes Jen and her situation more distinctive on the first page.

  12. I thought the opening parg could work as long as you connected it to something in the following text. For me, it's a bigger hook than the BF, and when it didn't go anywhere, I was disappointed.

    You might mention the wind and the rain in parg three when she buys the umbrella, or rather, before she buys it. You can use it to set mood, to reinforce that she's isn't really as liberated as she thinks, since she's wandering around in the rain while waiting to hear from her BF, and it won't come out of the blue when she's at his door.

    Hours later. . . Hours later than what? After she saw/heard the add? After she texted the BF?

    Also, the whole excerpt is telling. Instead of explaining what happened to the reader, show us. Show her receive the text. Show her disappointment or anger or whatever she's feeling. SHow her sitting alone and eating a sandwich or rushing out of the rain to buy her umbrella. It'll do much more for you than having her ramble.

  13. The opening ad is very catchy, and my guess is that in the MS it's set off by italics or something so that it doesn't seem so jarring when you switch gears right afterward.

    I like the idea of commiserating with a friend via phone. The boyfriend's a real winner here (cough cough) and I'm guessing that's part of the reason she's motivated to do the reality show. In fact, they could be talking about the reality show ad as part of the same conversation. And everything you evoked in the encounter with him could be done at least as effectively this way. Mostly, I think the encounter with boyfriend makes him feel overdrawn, so unattractive that it makes me question her judgment for being with him at all. Does that make sense?

    I do like the inner dialogue, but the line about the liberated woman felt a little author-inserted to me.