#28 Crapometer

Title: A Judgement of Errors
Genre: Rom-Com

When Tiphanie arrives at Lanleigh to hold a week of workshops on cartooning, her boyfriend, Howard, tries to persuade her to share his room. A dark, piratical-looking man alerts them to his presence. Tiphanie has a heated exchange with him. She calls him ‘Mr Sarky’ (short for sarcastic) and is glad when he says his cartography workshops have finished and he’s leaving.

Tiphanie and Howard argue when she tells him she’s looking after her niece and nephew (twins) and cat-sitting for her brother, so can’t go on holiday with him. On the last morning at Lanleigh, Tiphanie finds her best friend naked in Howard’s suite. She chucks champagne ice over Howard in his after sex sleep. Returning to her room, Tiphanie collides with ‘Mr Sarky’ who has come to collect something. He obviously thinks she spent the night with Howard. Later, he sees her drive away with a man. (It’s a dummy escort; an unpleasant incident three years back has made her nervous of being alone in the car).

Next day at her brother’s converted lighthouse, Tristan (who?) is trying to unjam the zip in Tiphanie’s jeans when ‘Mr Sarky’ walks in. He leaves thinking Tiphanie flits from man to man…like his ex-wife. Tristan tells Tiphanie the man is Kyle Cooper who lives the other side of the river.

The twins arrive and Tristan leaves. Tiphanie plays noisily with the twins. Kyle comes to complain; a cushion lands on him and bursts. He is furious. Tiphanie implies she’s lived with two men who use “artistic temperament” to excuse bad temper. Something the twins say make Kyle think Tiphanie is their mother, but won’t allow them to call her Mum. (One of the cats used to be called Chrysanthemum or Mum but must, acting on advice from a cat therapist, now be called Crystal). Kyle tells himself he can’t possibly feel anything but contempt for this woman who, as well as everything else, denies her own children.

Tiphanie watches Kyle stride away across the bridge and can’t believe she’s attracted to him. (yea, me either) One of the cats gets stuck up a tree. Tiphanie, wearing only a short nightshirt, climbs up to get it and has a terrifying experience with a stray dog. Kyle comes to the rescue. Tiphanie is very shaken. Kyle tells her he’ll watch the twins while she has a lie down. When she wakes he tells Tiphanie an accident left him with vertigo and ever since he’s suffered from acrophobia. Because he couldn’t overcome his fear, he gave up his career as a psychologist and became a cartographer and wordsmith.

that makes no sense at all to me. Fear of heights made him give up being a psychologist?

Back at home, Kyle regrets telling her anything. In spite of having seen a softer side to her, he still doesn’t like the way (he thinks) she behaves towards her children. The twins told him how they live with their grandmother so their mum can follow her career.

The twins make a scarecrow and dress it in their clothes. They abandon it near the river; it falls in face down. Kyle sees it and thinks it’s one of the twins. He jumps in and gets into difficulties. As Tiphanie drags him out, she realizes how much he means to her. Because of the way she is with him, and the twins, after the accident, Kyle begins to trust his feelings for her, thinking there must be a good reason for her not being a ‘proper mum’ to her children.

The twins go to Kyle’s to apologize for inadvertently causing his accident. They tell him their father is dead and their mum conducts an orchestra. Tiphanie is their aunt, the man Kyle thought they’d called Dad is actually Tad, Tiphanie’s twin and not her ex-husband, and Tristan is also Tiphanie’s brother.

While the twins are at Kyle’s, Howard turns up at the lighthouse. Tiphanie tells him to get lost. Later, Kyle phones Tiphanie; she thinks it’s Howard and starts talking the second she picks up the phone. Kyle learns she didn’t sleep with Howard, but her best friend did.

oh, the old ‘talking into the phone’ device.

The twins go home the next day; Tiphanie is staying until Tristan returns. Kyle, determined to straighten things out, goes to see her. They talk, agree to start afresh and begin to trust in their feelings for each other. Until Kyle’s ex-wife arrives. She is remarrying soon but doesn’t want Kyle to be happy. She goes to see Tiphanie and mentions the woman Kyle has always loved is now free to marry him. She says Kyle can’t wait to get back with Sophie. Tiphanie believes her and, hurt, says she is also going back to the only man she ever loved. Kyle’s ex-wife takes pleasure in telling this to Kyle.

Next time Kyle sees Tiphanie she is outside a hotel in the arms of a man. He thinks it’s the man his ex-wife told him about. Two days later, they unexpectedly meet at in the offices of a greetings cards publisher. The editor mentions Sophie to Kyle; they talk about Sophie’s forthcoming marriage. It’s obvious she isn’t marrying Kyle. Tiphanie realizes Kyle’s ex-wife lied. The editor wants Kyle and Tiphanie to work on an exciting project – creating verses, characters and maps for cards based on spoof science fiction novels by a reclusive author.

and yes, here are the aliens arriving in chapter 14.

Tiphanie discovers the mystery author is her father; he doesn’t anyone to know he writes the sci-fi because he’s known as a literary writer. He makes Tiphanie promise to keep his real name (and thus their relationship) secret. When Kyle sees him, he recognizes him as the man he saw Tiphanie with outside the hotel. Kyle infers Tiphanie has used her ‘Sugar Daddy’ to get work. Tiphanie makes her father tell Kyle the truth.

Eventually, Kyle and Tiphanie realize they belong together. Kyle asks Tiphanie to marry him and says he hopes all their children will be twins, and that the girls will look like her.

Tiphanie replies: ‘As long they don’t have names beginning with ‘T’, or pets with a name that can be shortened to Mum.’

You may have a lighthearted and fun novel here but this synopsis is soggy pudding. You’ve confined yourself to a recitation of events and given us very little glimpse of character and voice. You’ll need to show us what makes the usual elements of a romantic comedy fresh and new in your hands.

And mysterious reclusive fathers who don’t want to be outed as SF writers cause of their “literary careers” ...well, Stephen King makes boatloads of money, regularly leads the best seller lists AND got recognition from the National Book Foundation for his contribution to writing so her dad sounds like a twit.

And why the hell is her name spelled Tiphanie?


Anonymous said...

Eek! How did my comment get posted under # 26? If it was my fault, I eat humble pie (goes with the soggy pudding synopsis). Grin. Anyway,here it is again:
Thank you for the critique, Miss Snark. I thought you'd be a lot tougher.

Tricia in UK

Anonymous said...

Weird name spellings take me right out of a story. I'd read anyway if the story compelled me, but I'd always be wondering "Why oh why did the author spell it Nychole??" For fun with names, see Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing:


Anonymous said...

OK, I was not going to rise to the name thing... but then anonymous commented! If you google Tiphanie you'll see it is a recognised way of spelling it.

Tricia in UK
Oops maybe it should be Trisha?

Alina said...

Ok, so... Tiphanie, Tristan, and Tad are all siblings? But none of them are the twins' parents? And the twins' mother isn't their sibling either, and the twins live with their grandmother, but in Tiphanie's brother's house (which brother?) and also, when did Kyle see Tad and hear the twins call him what he thought was "dad"?

Did any of this make sense to anyone?

Oh, and admit it. You saw the girl named Jenniphur compete on ANTM and got the idea to replace every "f" with a "ph" there.

Douglas Hoffman said...

My favorite naming-WTF-moment:

Child's name is Yitzhak. I pronounce it just as I would for Yitzhak Perlman. Mother corrects me: "It's Isaac."

I hold my tongue.

Rick said...

Real life doesn't have to explain itself, but fiction does. (Maybe some parents, too.)

Tiffany or Tiffani I wouldn't blink at, or even - in the right book - Theophania. But I'd want some hint of why she is Tiphanie; in fact, I'd expect her name to tell me something relevant about her parents.

Bonnie Shimko said...

I taught second grade for a hundred years and saw some doozie name spelling. Usually the "creative" parents were really young and trying to make their Mysheyele stand out from all the others in the world.

Anonymous said...

LOL, Alina
If it didn't make sense to you - well, you did a reasonable job of guessing which ones were siblings and who wasn't.
However, I agree none of it is very clear - you should see the trouble these 'T' names cause in the story itself! I think the bits which would/might have made it clearer where the bits I had to lose to get the synopsis to within a whisker of the 1,000 word limit.

Was there really a Jenniphur? And is there a programme called ANTM?

Tricia in UK (laughing at Yitzhak which is slightly worse than Tiphanie)

Anonymous said...

OK, Rick
The night before Tiphanie was born, her father was researching royal families of Europe because he was convinced he was related to the Quemper de Lanascol family.
Anyway, one of them was called Tiphanie. He liked the name and so did his wife and they decided if the baby was a girl, that's what they'd call her.

Well, you did say you'd want to know!

Tricia in UK

Alina said...

ANTM is a TV show, America's Next Top Model and they had a contestant named Jenniphur a couple of seasons ago, yeah.