Sunday, September 17, 2006

New Beginning 117

I’ve screwed up my life, big time. One sexual lapse, and my Wellesley diploma might as well be toilet paper.

It started the day Courtney, my boss, called in sick, which in her case means at death’s door. It’s nothing for her to come into work wheezing and sneezing like a TB case, high on excess doses of Sudafed. It takes a fever of 103 to keep her in bed, which is what she has on the day that changes my life. I can hear my phone ringing from across the floor as I walk past Henke, our Eurotrash receptionist.

"Diane," she says. "Thank God!" She sounds like she’s under water. "BRASH BRAS is coming in from New York at ten today to meet with Barry."

BRASH BRAS is our Triple E Client, and Barry is the director of Creative Services at Brewster Communications.

"Get Scarlett from Marketing and Caitlin from Sales," I bark at Henke, assuming my boss's persona. "And then get me a venti espresso frappucino, non-fat no whip!"

Henke, in her stained and frayed Yves St. Laurent, pretends to not understand English.

I kick my door closed and dial Barry. Our previous night of wild sex has left me with an argyle tie from Brooks Brothers, and Barry with a BRASH BRA. He can probably get by without his tie, but I'm a Triple E client myself, and in big trouble.

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Kate Thornton


whitemouse said...



That is to say, your first two sentences is the hook, but having hooked this fishie, I think you're playing out too much line and it's tiring me out. I am a willing fishie! Hurry up and reel me in!

I don't want to hear backstory and conversations with Henke. I want to see the main character get herself into a jam.

Anonymous said...

Nitpick, but TB doesn't cause sneezing. Coughing and fever yes, but not sneezing, which comes from nasal or throat issues.

Virginia Miss said...

I disagree with whitemouse on this; I'm hooked and perfectly content to keep reading to get to the sexual lapse, I see no need to cram it into the first 150 words.

I find this readable, and it hints at fun. (But then I'm the only one of EE's minions who likes chick lit.) Good luck.

Rei said...

Several things jumped out at me and made me not want to read on.

1. Tense: "which is what she has on the day that changes my life" -- present tense; compare to "It started the day Courtney ..."

2. Excessive description: do we really need *three* sentences to tell us that Courtney tends to come in work sick? If you're going to use a dialogue tag in the third paragraph, why not combine it with how she sounds when she says it?

3. Telling, not showing: Do you need to *tell* us that Henke is "Eurotrash", instead of showing? Do you need to *tell* us that BRASH BRAS is a Triple E Client (whatever that means), and Barry is the director of Creative Services at Brewster Communications? Show it.

4. Capitalization. Uck. And I thought that SF/F authors who needlessly capitalize the first letter of words like "Talent" or "Magic" were annoying. Reading things in all caps is like a talking with a shouting fourteen-year-old on AIM.

Gerri said...

Pick a tense, past or present, and stick with it. Preferably past tense. Otherwise, I think it's a good start.

Dave said...

It works. I mean that first sentence really does work. What do we have in the first 150 words?

A promise of a sexually embarrassing faux pas, a chatterbox assistant, A fashion or marketing company selling bras, and Eurotrash.

ooooh FUN! {blush}

I might trim the TB and the sudafed stuff, but it this character is a motormouth and talks like most New Yorkers (several miles per minute, as they say), or if this character is subject to rambling when she gets excited, then that type of overstatement is in character and it should stay.

I'd like the continuation better if the narrator wanted Barry's underwear and not his tie.

charpentier said...

I thought this had a lot of energy. I noticed, but decided I didn't mind, the tense shifts -- they sounded plausible for the headlong narration. But I could see them being a problem, so the author should be wary.

HawkOwl said...

I hated the first paragraph, personally. It's too dramatic and too hackneyed.

The rest was ok. It does sound like my kind of chick lit, but as if it's copying it. It doesn't feel original. I might read it, if the rest gets stronger and I haven't read any chick lit for a while.

whitemouse said...

Virginia Miss:

I'll admit that I would give the book more than 150 words to get to the juicy stuff too. I don't really need the author to tell me about the sexual lapse as fast as I implied s/he should.

However, the excerpt has two instances of backstory, one of which should be trimmed. Everything between "death's door" and "I walked past Henke" can be cut.

I'd also like some inkling that I am going to find out about the sexual lapse relatively soon (was it with Barry?). Given that the excerpt goes from "sexual lapse" to "rough day at the office", and shows no signs of veering back, I worry that there's going to be too much setup between that juicy hook and me having my curiosity about the hook satisfied.

xiqay said...

Continuation--good point. Sounds like Devil Wears Prada.

Author, I like it, but I want to know what's the sexual lapse NOW and the background later, and where's the problem that she's facing NOW. In other words, your teaser makes everything else backstory. Either ditch the teaser or use it as the beginning-starting point.

BTW, when we got to the dialogue, "she says"--I wasn't sure if the she was Courtney or Henke. It's Courtney on second reading, but there's so much between Courtney called in sick to this dialogue that the attribution gets lost.

Other than this small nitpick, I like your writing style. I'd read on.
Good luck.

BuffySquirrel said...

BRASH BRAS doesn't work for me. The words look very similar written down, but are pronounced differently. I think this phrase would be hard to say--something of a disadvantage for a product name.

Dan Lewis said...

"One sexual lapse" is great, but the first sentence, just before it, is not. Sentence 2 creates the expectation that the scene you begin directly after will either end in or revolve around a sexual lapse, and said lapse will be hilarious. So I'm cool with not hearing about it yet, as long as you deliver the goods.

The tense change was a bit too violent. I hope it buys you something down the line. I'll also suggest that people certainly think in the present tense, even when narration is in the past tense. To distinguish narration and inner monologue, you could italicize Diane's thoughts.

In a way, this is a POV issue, because it's hard to tease apart narrator Diane looking back at the action she participated in and character-in-her-own-story Diane observing the action as it happens.

I agree that Courtney is sick. Most of Paragraph 2 can be cut to make room in the opening for other, more interesting things.

"the day that changes my life" in Paragraph 2 is redundant after Paragraph 1 and the first sentence in Paragraph 2. The reminiscing about that fateful day should be over when the vivid continuous scene begins. Be wary of retreating from the action to make comments from a distance. If you're going to do it, you need to be very careful about the POV distinction between Diane-as-narrator and Diane-as-character.

Someone holding their breath (or screaming) beneath the surface of a pool is "underwater". Someone about to open a door with a bucket of liquid balanced precariously on top is "under water".

On the plus side, the voice sounds good, I'm hooked, you seem to have a plot, and I would definitely read on.

PS, off-topic. Xiqay, I saw your comment on the writing contest post (Satan and Alice). I would like to do NaNo this year, but I doubt I could race you (busy research semester). Keep me posted, whatever you decide to do.

xiqay said...

Dan Lewis,

I'm definitely doing Nano--not sure if I'll use Alice & Satan or some other plot bunnies currently inhabiting space in my brain.

Hope you'll stop by Nano in November and cheer us on, even if you're not participating.

Beth said...

This could use some tidying up, but it has promise. And I agree with Virginia Miss. The pace is just fine.

RainSplats said...

The tense changes bugged me and pulled me out of the story.