3rd SR Crapometer #83

Dear Miss Snark,

I am seeking representation for my 80,000-word fantasy, PARANOID PSYCHIC.

Being psychic sucks.

Ingrid Ant was fine before she knew, but then this dark-spectacled guy--dressed like he just strutted out of the Matrix--finds her. He insists she can see the future and can help him prevent something terrible from happening in their town. Right. Like Ingrid is going to
believe that. If she could see the future, she wouldn't keep losing bets or stepping in gum.

And then some of her casual predictions start coming true, though not like they should. "Oh, I bet that guy drops his lunch," becomes, "Oh, that guy is dead because he dropped his lunch!" As if someone else being right isn't enough, Ingrid is forced to figure out how to work a
power that only shows bad things, and how to stop the future that comes straight from her paranoid thoughts.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Jodi Meadows

ok this is just weird enough to get my attention.
No obvious strike outs, so I'll read pages.

"Who writes a check for coffee?" The skinny guy squinted at me as he plucked the pale blue slip of paper off the counter.

I slapped my driver's license on the Formica countertop and waited for the guy to verify that I did in fact exist. And I wouldn't satisfy his boredom by offering an explanation for my lack of cash. Or plastic, but cards were super dangerous anyway.

"Ingrid." He looked up from underneath a bushy pair of eyebrows and smiled the way people did when they were trying not to laugh. "Ingrid Ant? I bet you got made fun of in school."

Rolling my eyes, I snatched the license back and tucked it away. I didn't feel like dealing with this jerk, especially not when there were other things--possibly more interesting--to do. I had to meet someone named Grem in about two minutes, and I didn't really know what
he looked like. Only that he was supposed to meet me outside Coffee Café, a place whose owners and employees didn't seem too bright. But over the 'net last night, he'd acted like I'd know. Uh-huh.

While caterpillar brows got my coffee--at last--I fixed my belongings in my back pocket and tried to look casual as I glanced over the crowd of caffeine addicts at their little round tables. Three sat hunched over laptops, glowing screens lighting their faces like ghosts. Others
curled their shoulders over paper notebooks, scribbling like they'd be the next bestseller if they could just read their handwriting when they were through. Certainly, with the dark curtains over the windows, they couldn't read it now.

None looked like Grem, or at least how he'd described himself in instant message last night: tall, dark, and handsome, just like the cliché, and he swore he wasn't joking. Not that I believed him, or anyone else when they described themselves on the 'net.

And everyone in the grand Coffee Café was pale, pasty, and squinty-eyed, hyped up on too much coffee--or coffee fumes. If Grem hadn't been lying about his looks, I supposed I would have spotted him right away, and he'd have been right about me just knowing. So I was
secretly glad I didn't see anyone matching that description.

"Miss Ant?" Caterpillar brows tapped my shoulder. He must have leaned really far over the counter to manage that. "Your coffee."

"Thanks." I grabbed the cardboard cup and turned on the heel of my pink Sketcher, taking a handful of sugars and creamers from the condiment area and depositing them in my jacket pocket. Heat seeped through the cup, warming my fingers as I sauntered toward the exit,
through a sea of people who acted like they'd never seen melanin before.

There was a guy outside the coffee shop, wearing a long black coat with his arms folded across his chest as he leaned on the window. Like most of the adult population of Earth, he was taller than me. Didn't really give me a good idea whether or not other people considered him
tall. He wore shades: the kind blind people wear, but not as round. And he didn't have a stick, either, so definitely not blind. He could be Grem, or he could have been a random dark and handsome guy. I walked by.

well, at least it isn't a dream.
You get me all thrilled about guys dropping dead and what do you serve up?? WAITING!
No Godot.
Miss Snark does not do Godot.

Drop us in the middle of the action, like the middle of the conversation with Grem (Grandmother Snark thought perhaps she was being featured, but alas, no) and Miss Ant when she casaully says something and it comes true. Yanno..like your query letter.

This doesn't suck completely but it needs more work than I'm willing to chaperone. This is a form rejection cause I think you're at least three to five drafts away from ready. I'm not signing up to read that many drafts and encouraging words tend to create pen pals.

You need that Junkyard Dog Critique group to really chew on this one for you.


loftybit said...

I liked it. Quirky, fun concept, good writing, and you don't feel compelled to describe everything - you give just enough telling details to let the reader construct the picture. Nice work!

McKoala said...

'encouraging words tend to create pen pals'!

The writing was OK, but I'm not really sucked in. The story outlined in the query letter is good, though.

Bella Stander said...

I liked it too, but hope that tall, sunglassed & handsome says something in the next graf to get the action going.

Jessica said...

I actually liked this. Yeah it needs work, but i read it all without having to force myself to. It has something. I liked it until the last paragraph anyway.

But Ingrid Ant? Cute!

Sam said...

I liked this a lot - quirky and easy to read. I agree with Miss Snark - I'd like to know what's gonna happen soon - but I did want to keep reading!!

sherry decker said...

Clever way to introduce your character, with the driver's license at the coffee counter. Not bad writing, really, but I agree with Miss snark (of course!). Let's have a body, or a car crash or somebody jump from a tall building. Splat. Yanno, something.

Jodi Meadows said...

Thanks, Miss Snark! Thanks, comment people! You rock like serious rockin' things!

I took your advice. I burned caterpillar brows' fingers and set his coffee machine on fire.

Virginia Miss said...

This has a lot of potential -- author voice, premise. However you need a new opening scene. Good luck!

MTV said...

Jodi Meadows said: "I took your advice. I burned caterpillar brows' fingers and set his coffee machine on fire."

Did Ingrid see some flash of this just before it happened?

Mind you not the whole scene - just something - like burned fingers or flames shooting from the coffee machine a few seconds before.

With a premise this good I'd build into foreshadow. Then as she learns about her ability you'd have another bridge to cross.

There may be plot development issues you need to address which could be why Miss Snark premonitioned 5 drafts-:)!!

Good work though.
Overall, I really liked it.

Anonymous said...

"Three sat hunched over laptops, glowing screens lighting their faces like ghosts."

Do ghosts light faces? (I've never seen it happen.)

"Others curled their shoulders over paper notebooks..."

I have shoulders, but I can't curl them. I've never met anybody who could curl their shoulders (or if they could, they never showed me). What does a curled shoulder look like?

Also, when you say 'paper notebooks' - as distinct from what other kind? (I guess you don't mean notebook computers, since you already referred to 'laptops'.)

"None looked like Grem..."

Do you mean 'none' or 'no one'?

Sorry to snark, but it reads to me like a very loose first draft.

Needs tidying.

Anonymous said...

"the kind blind people wear, but not as round". are you joking? I thought the idea was interesting, though.

~Nancy said...

Liked the voice, liked the idea...like another poster, I read through this one very quickly.

I do think it needs a bit of tightening, but, please...don't lose that voice! Gave me a good laugh (and I needed one this morning, after a particularly lousy commute).

One thing:

Others curled their shoulders over paper notebooks...

I don't think "curled" works here; doesn't sound quite right. How about "hunched"?

Thanks for the good read - and good luck with this!


Niamh Sage said...

I enjoyed this one too - it looks promising! Loved the voice. I laughed out loud at Caterpillar Brows (and his unfortunate accident in the comments trail).

Good luck with the revision!

Anonymous said...

I liked it. She didn't flip or push any hair around, and it held my interest. Now that I'm hyped on caffeine, that takes some doing.

"sea of people who acted like they'd never seen melanin before"

Are they looking at her melanin or is she noting their lack of it?

"sea of melanin-deprived people" is a bit less vague.

I like the concept, was hard pressed to believe the server was rude since he should be mindful of getting a tip. I'm in the south so maybe the coffee guys here are nicer.

Shesawriter said...

Dear Jodi,

I liked this one ... A LOT. I don't think you need four or five revisions. Just a bit more tightening, but that's it.

No, I'm not an agent. I'm just a fellow writer. :-)

Your story has me very curious and I WOULD love to read further. You had me in the query and didn't disappoint with the excerpt.

Great writing!



Beth said...

I love the voice. The writing is mostly pretty darn good as it is (My opinion differs from Miss Snark on that point). But the story needs to start in a different place, or else Grem needs to show up at the cafe. All that anticipation and then--phhptt. What was that buying-coffee scene for, if not to get the story going?

lottery ticket said...

I like the voice. And while it needs a faster start, it's much more intriguing than a lot of the stuff I've read here. Keep at it!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I have to admit that I haven't made it through many of the entries without beginning to skim. Few have held my attention start to finish. This is one of the ones that did, even if nothing exciting happened. I definitely like the idea of setting his machine on fire, and of Ingrid getting a flash of it before it happens.

It doesn't sound like you're going to give up, which is great. :) I think the voice is there. Congrats. :)

Anonymous said...

I liked it too, and thought this was a good place to begin.
IMO, you could cut a lot of the description of the cafe - you tell us several times about the caffeine addicts. With a bit of trimming, this beginning will rattle along much faster.
A couple times, I didn't believe the voice, but I'm sorry I can't be more helpful by pinpointing why.
As well as trimming the descriptions, maybe you can give some thought to strengthening the voice.

I most definitely would read on!

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked it, too. I'm a bit more patient than Miss Snark and I wasn't bothered by a page setting up the meeting. Your voice is great.

This isn't ready to go, but you have great start. I do have to say, though, I found the description of the tall guy with the blind person's sunglasses was very awkward, didn't flow with the rest of it.

Mention him earlier as she scans the crowd. Trim the pasty/coffee fume observations and give a few zinging descriptives which INCLUDE a foreshadow mention of mr. sunglasses.

heidi said...

If only Miss Snark knew how many redshirts you normally kill in your books, she'd probably feel better about this.

Ski said...

I liked this. Although I absolutely adore Miss Snark I respectfully disagree. I don't mind investing some time in getting to know a character. I actually like that part of a story. To me, knowing a bit about someone is a plus. Then when the poop hits the revolving wind machine I feel like we're kinda friends. The key to making this work is writing it in a way that doesn't make me uncomfortable, and you've done that. What I don't like is reading and feeling like I'm not in some real place. (By the way, it doesn't have to be this planet or this time.) Fake, trying to be clever, over done, and all those things make me close the book and put it back on the shelf. Write like life happens and I'm in for the ride, and I'll stay with you as long as you don't slip into the "bad" stuff. I would read on and hope your character and I would be buddies by the turn of the next few pages. I wish you success.


Natalia said...

Once again, you have an awesome premise, and then the writing just falls flat and dies. Introduce more action. Start with someone dying.

Ingrid Ant is an awesome name.

Mysterious people are always wearing sunglasses. Perhaps a fedora or a ridiculous polka-dotted bow-tie would work better?

Jodi Meadows said...

Natalia: Once again? This is my only submission. Or do I know you from somewhere else?

Natalia said...

Oh, when I said "once again," I meant that a lot of people tend to do this. I'm no exception, actually. I'll think of something awesome and cool, and then I realize that I'm five pages into it, and nothing's going on.

Revision is a bitch.