3rd SR Crapometer #79

Dear Miss Snark,

Robbie Singh is a tall, strong, and intimidating Punjabi man of 23 who has the mind of a young child. He walks, talks, and looks differently (differently is an adverb, that means it modifies a verb. If you use looks as a verb, that sentence is weird) than other people, and has a different kind of life, one of very simple routines. He also relies heavily on his mother for guidance and protection, particularly from his abusive and alcoholic father. grammatical error, stock character of abusiv alcoholic father.

So, when Robbie loses Mama in a tragic auto accident, he finds himself on his own, facing a terrifying new world without her. Shouldering his grief and fear, Robbie slowly tries to piece his life back together. He struggles not only to forge a relationship with his father, but to sort out his new feelings for long-time friend and ex-schoolmate Julia, as well as gain some independence in a world full of people more eager to point and whisper than to shake his hand. And when Robbie discovers the devastating secret that Mama took to the grave, it takes strength and determination he never knew he had, coupled with the love and support of his family and new friends, to soldier on and finally come into his own.

My 85,000-word novel, “Robbie Singh,” is a tale of love, hope, and perseverance at all costs, set amidst the splendor of California’s Monterey Bay. Readers of Daniel Keyes’s “Flowers for Algernon” or Winston Groom’s “Forrest Gump” may find this novel of a similar spirit, but the distinctive strengths of “Robbie Singh” are the title character’s truly unique voice, humor, vocabulary, and childlike perspective, contrasted with the intimidating and decidedly adult challenges he must face. (none of which of course we see here)

I have included a short biography (a what?) for your review. May I send you a fully complete copy of my manuscript? I look forward to hearing from you.


first page. only first page. almost everyone asks for the first page. There's a reason for this and it's not cause we want to make you crazy.

Right now I’m heading back to work after lunchtime, down the streets of my city, Monterey. My name’s Robbie Singh, and I live on Maravilla Place, in a tall house with my Mama and Papa. I’m at the bottom, under their room in the basement, where Papa says I can’t be seen and barely heard. I’ve been working at the Norva Cannery on Aguajito Street for a lot of years now. My boss there is Mr. Thewlis, and his face is a little bit like a lizard’s. He got me a job ’cause he’s buddies with Papa. He yells at me a lot, like when I don’t watch my line so good and let a broken can go by, but nobody hears him yell ’cause it’s so loud in there. Mama told Papa one time that he should talk to Mr. Thewlis, make him stop being so mean to me, but Papa said hell no. He said I’m 23 goddamn years old and, retarded or not, I should seize my sac and stand up for myself just like everybody else has to. I didn’t understand all that, but I do know Papa won’t tell the Lizard Man to do anything. I don’t usually say bad names about people, even mean people like him, but he calls me “Duck” all the time and I don’t like it. I make sure he doesn’t hear me, though.
Some days I walk down by Fishermans Wharf, close to the water, ’cause all those boats look coolio. Not every day, though, ’cause I get lost easy if I don’t walk my usual way. And not on Fridays, ’cause there’s about a million people everywhere, and it’s too hard to move without cars honking at me. I walk kind of slow, too, and I’m embarrassed to around lots of people. They stare at me, and a lot of them just don’t like me. I know when they don’t, too, ’cause they look at me mean, like I spit on the sidewalk, or like how Mama looks at me when I put my elbows on the table during dinner. I think they understand that I’m not so smart. That makes some people mad. I remember one man saying to his son, “Lookit that. He don’t have to walk that way. He c’walk normal if he damn well wanted.” I stopped then, and almost told him how I grew too fast when I was young and that’s why I walk weird, but Mama says not to talk to mean people ’cause nothing will change their mind. So I just walked away fast, and the boy laughed. “I think you made his brain short out for a sec there, Dad,” he said.

uh...you need to read more Faulkner.
Start with The Sound and the Fury.

This is a form rejection.


Writerious said...

They made me read Flowers for Algernon in 7th grade.

Flowers for Algernon should not be inflicted upon a captive audience of 7th graders.

By the time we were through, I was ready to re-enact the final scenes from Lord of the Flies -- another book they liked to inflict on 7th graders and should not.

Nate said...

Thanks for the input, Miss Snark!

Not much I can do about a stock character, I suppose. He's the main antagonist and vital to the tale.

I thought I showed the adult challenges he's facing back in the second paragraph? (forging relationship with Dad, confused over first love Julia, struggling for independence, all without Mama.)

Not sure what to make of the Faulkner comment, except maybe that he nailed the retarded POV better with Benjy. And to that I say, no duh. He's Faulkner. :)

Good to see how the slush-sorting mind works! A million thanks for the reality check!

- #79 author

RainSplats said...

Try a different POV.

His ability to recall the exact words he didn't understand doesn't ring true.

What is the exact age you wanted his mind to have?

Children may have a smaller vocabulary, but more importantly they have unique views of their world based on their experiences. This didn't feel like it was coming from the mind of a child. It felt like the author wrote the story and then replaced all the large words with smaller ones.

Anonymous said...

You're telling, telling, telling and not showing anything. It's also all backstory. Where's the plot? Nothing is happening.

There's nothing here to make me want to read on. Tell me a story. What you have here is not a story; it's a lecture.

word veri: ifuss - I guess I am making a fuss. I'll shut up now.

Kit said...

Dear #79: I disagree with Miss Snark. I thought this was wonderful, although it could use just a leetle bit of pruning when Robbie goes for his walk and encounters mean people. I would check this out of the library. I might even spend cold, hard cash on it. Keep plugging!

McKoala said...

I know that no paras is probably an artistic decision, but please? pretty please?

Nate said...

Mckoala, the lack of paragraph separation was my error in cutting and pasting, not a conscious choice or an attempt to ape James Frey. :)

I do understand I have to tell a story, but it IS just two paragraphs.

Kit, thanks for the kind words. And thank you to everyone for your honest input, I'll take it all into consideration.

Grendel's Dam said...

I like the fresh, Dog-in-the-Nightime voice. Not sure they still do much canning in billionaire-ville Monterey, but I see potential here.

Anonymous said...

Nate, I think there is PLENTY you can do about a stock character. You get to know him so well he isn't stock anymore. He's like no one else in the world. I'd recommend Dog in the Nighttime too. And like rainsplats I think it helps to know the exact mental and emotional age of the character. Personally I'd do a ton of research.

My main issue with this piece is that in order to reveal himself, the protagonist gives us a litany of how others see him. My mentally retarded relative (who, granted, may be nothing like your character) is extraordinarily proud of the things he can do. He works amazingly hard at his job--moves faster than anyone there. He has one obsession, reads about it, and builds a collection around it. I don't want to talk about his sexual urges here but they're interesting, they have a history, and they'd matter in a novel (though not on p.1). I also wonder how my relative handles shame; it's such a primal, painful feeling, yet it seems to bounce off your character.

Maybe you need to know him better and then thrust him into conflict right away.

MLR said...

He said I’m 23 goddamn years old and, retarded or not, I should seize my sac and stand up for myself just like everybody else has to. I didn’t understand all that, but I do know Papa won’t tell the Lizard Man to do anything.

I was interested reading this, but it felt like you stepped out of the POV character with that bold bit.

You keep echoing the idea that he's "not so smart." Got it. Trust that most of your readers are neurotypical and will catch that he's different.

This might be a hard POV to read for long stretches. I hope something interesting happens to him soon.

Anonymous said...

There is no way on Dog's Pink Tam to say no to this without coming across as the Grinch who not only stole Christmas, but pawned it and used the money to buy a time machine, kill Jesus and make sure there's no Christmas even invented.

Sometimes I forget why I love you, and you remind me all over again.

Anonymous said...

sieze his sac? what does this mean?

Anonymous said...

"There is no way on Dog's Pink Tam to say no to this without coming across as the Grinch who not only stole Christmas, but pawned it and used the money to buy a time machine, kill Jesus and make sure there's no Christmas even invented."

Where did this quote come from? MS? I don't see it anywhere, just in Anonymous's response.

Miss Snark said...

Crapometer entry #83 I think.
Google "dog's pink tam" and "snark"