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Monday, October 14, 2013

Critting OUT OF TOUCH: needs character work

OUT OF TOUCH is a Paranormal Mystery/Romance WIP

Chapter One

After college I ran through jobs like most women go through panty hose.  I'd like to say that it was the fault of my visions, but I can't.  I think I have a split personality.

When my dad died, my mom went to work to pay the mortgage on the house.  She was determined not to lose that house.  Unfortunately, she didn't have any skills, so one job wasn't enough.  It took two, and sometimes three, jobs to keep us afloat.  Even though I was only six years old, our roles changed, and we became more like roommates,  instead of mother and daughter.   For my mom I put on a strong, fearless facade and learned to be the epitome of  serenity.  When I was with the Fitzgeralds I was able to be myself: a smartass.

The problem is that I can't be Greta the Serene on the job for eight hours without letting Gigi the Smartass out, and she tends to get me fired.

I am currently working for Brown and Bell, which is a small PR firm about ten miles outside of The Neighborhood, in Rockdale.  I have been here almost six months, which is the longest I have worked anywhere, and I like it.  Most important, when I hit my six month employment goal I will finally move out of my parents' house and into an apartment of my own. >>well, her mother's actually<<

As for the job itself, I get to do some writing and schmoozing, and other public relations things, as well as a bunch of grunt work.  However, I am up for a promotion.  My competition is a real pinhead (solely my opinion) and has a reputation of being a slut (everyone's opinion): Bambi Winters.  What kind of name is Bambi anyway?  A deer name, that's what.  Not a person name.  Who gives a promotion to a deer?

I looked up and Roger Brown was standing over my desk.  My boss.  "Gigi, can I see you in my office please?" >>okay, so the story finally starts. Everything you've told me up until now wasn't all that interesting except for the little bit about visions and having trouble holding a job. The usual advice is to start a story with action -- I'd modify that to start with drama. Being called to the boss's office is drama. How Gigi grew up... isn't.<<

"Of course," I replied.

We crossed through the desks and cubes until we got to his office.  I followed him in and he closed the door.  He settled into his chair, and cleared his throat, while his eyes darted around the room, not quite knowing where to settle.  Mine focused on the floor at the foot of his desk. Something sparkly caught my eye when the sun bounced off of it.  It was a cufflink.  Diamond.  Hmmm.  I picked it up  and couldn't believe what I was seeing, but there it was... Bambi and Roger having sex on his office couch. >>Tell me more about how these visions happen. This makes a powerful ability sound boring.<< 

"....understand that Bambi is more qualified for the promotion," my boss summed up.

"Excuse me? You and Bambi get naked and I lose out on a promotion.  I don't see where that makes her more 'qualified.' At least not for this job," I snapped.

I don't know who was more stunned at this point - Roger, for having his secret affair with Bambi blasted wide open, or me, for opening my big, fat mouth and doing the blasting. >>she's been shooting her mouth off all her life, you said -- why is she surprised?<<

His eyes opened wide and then narrowed to slits. "Do you have any proof to back up your accusation?" >>Screwing Bambi wasn't illegal. Why does he ask this?<<

Proof?  Have any of my visions ever been wrong? No.  Never.  But, I cannot prove them by any standard methods, either.  Better to back up and let this go. >>Why? This makes Gigi sound waffly on top of what I mention later.<<

"Unnnhh, no."

He relaxed back into his chair and looked at me like he had never seen me before.  He knew that I knew. I watched his brain mentally calculate the risk.

"Let me guess," I said.  "I'm fired."

"You're fired," he echoed.

"Right.  I'll just pack up my stuff."

"Good idea.  I will give you twenty minutes to exit the building.  If you are not gone in that amount of time, security will personally escort you." >>This could be a lot more succinct.<<

Geez.  You get one little peek into someone's personal life and it makes them very nervous.  Roger didn't know how I knew; he just knew I knew.  After my first vision, Mrs. Fitzgerald  made me promise not to tell anyone, not even my mom.  She, Franny, and I are the only ones who know. >>she's been having visions all her life and hasn't figured this out yet? seriously? either she doesn't care, or she's clueless.<<

At my desk Bambi was waiting to share her victory.

"I imagine Mr. Brown just told you the good news," she chirped.

"Yes, he did," I chirped back.  "You are one lucky girl."  If she wanted that promotion badly enough that she was willing to do that for it, she could have it.  Sadly, I've now seen Roger Brown in his altogether and it wasn't an image I could shake.  I didn't envy her current position. >>She lost her job and this is her biggest concern? I guess paying the rent isn't a problem for her?<<

"Are you going to congratulate me?" she asked.

"You bet.  Congratulations, Bambi.  You..." I bit my lip because Greta the Serene was working to choke back Gigi the Smartass from getting into any more trouble... "hit the nail on the head."  Well, Gigi always was stronger than Greta.  "Bye." I flicked her a wave.

"What?" A look of incredulity crossed her face.  "You're leaving?" You quit because of this?  You can't stand to lose, can you?" The smugness was infuriating.  It was Kenny all over again.  I could almost hear that singsong voice.  I don't remember anything after that.  The next thing I knew Bambi was holding her nose, my fist was on fire, and I had this sinking feeling that this was going to end a lot worse for me than a spanking from my father. >>having said that, it needs to end worse. Since it doesn't end badly at all, what you're establishing here is that Gigi's got a martyr complex. Which doesn't make me feel sympathetic to her as a reader.<< 


As it turned out, I left the building with a police escort.  I knew the cops on duty.  One was Sean Fitzgerald, one of Franny's older brothers, and the other was his partner, Leo Connolly.   Franny is the youngest of the Fitzgerald children while Sean is the youngest boy.  The order from top to bottom is Mary Margaret, Johnny, Patrick, Brianna, Sean, Franny, and me.  I am considered Honorary Family. >>the family lineup is irrelevant right now<<

Sean was giving me the hairy eyeball in the rear view mirror, along with a scalding lecture on moral responsibility.  He finished and stared at me expectantly.

I stared back debating what to say.  All I could see in the mirror were piercing green eyes boring holes into me.  They were topped by auburn eyebrows.  His hair was no longer than a quarter inch.  Even though I couldn't see them, I knew that he had the whitest, and possibly straightest, teeth of anyone in The Neighborhood.  However,  good looks weren't going to sway me.  We were family.

"It wasn't my fault."

"Is that your statement?"

Pause.  "Yes.  I think I will stick with that."  Mostly because saying anything more is likely to incriminate me.

"Great.  What is it with you?  This is just like that incident with you and Kenny Ross when you were in kindergarten," Sean said. >>Kindergarten? and we're bringing this up? seriously?<<

"Exactly" I concurred, punctuating my point with a hand slap to his front seat.

"As I recall, all that netted you was a spanking that didn't allow you to sit down for a week and a new name that stuck to you like glue." A smile lit up his face that made my fists burn.

"Hey, buster, easy on the smiling up there.  It wasn't that funny."

The front passenger door opened and Leo angled in to the front seat.   He took up all of the air in the car. His hair was black, eyes were blue, and his lips were skilled.  Leo was my first boyfriend and I thought it was love.  We spent one idyllic summer together between my junior and senior year of college.  To this day, I don't understand why it ended.

I heard through The Neighborhood grapevine that Leo and Sean recently became partners.  Therefore, I figured the odds were fairly good I'd see him again.  Of course, I had glimpsed him in passing since he moved back home, but he always avoided me, and I never went out of my way to confront him.  So, despite living in the same town for the last six years, this was the closest  we had been since that summer.  I expected awkward.  What I didn't expect was a flash of desire that had the hairs at the base of my neck prickling.

"How did it go?" Sean asked Leo.

"Let's just say she decided not to press charges after some careful consideration." He gave me a penetrating look in the rear view mirror.  What did he do?  He responded to the question that I didn't ask. "I told her I would make her long list of parking tickets disappear if she decided to drop this matter."  And that was that.  He gave no explanation as to why he would do such a thing. My heart skipped at least two beats before resuming at double time.  Uh oh. >>he's got no reason to explain, so that's redundant<<

I deliberately shifted my line of sight over to Sean, trying to ignore Leo.  "Sean, does that mean I can go home now?"

"Gigi, please go home."

>>I think the main problem here is all the contradictions. Gigi says she's a smartass and it's gotten her in trouble before, but then she's surprised when it happens again. She doesn't stick to her guns and comes across as a woe-is-me type... who randomly gets violent and punches people. But that's okay because her two cop friends are willing to wheel and deal for her.<<

>>Personally, I'm not finding her interesting. She's coming across as a drama queen. Plus, she doesn't seem to be emotionally invested in anything, have any goals, or even any major problems... so what's this story about?<< 

1 comment:

Robin said...

Thank you for your insights. I reworked both scenes. I don't know if you will have time to re-crit anything, but I resubmitted the Prologue and the first scene. Of course, now that I have done that, I am beginning to wonder if The Prologue should be dropped altogether and all of the information staggered into Chapter One at appropriate times and places.

There is a reason it is called a WIP.