HH Com 302 (302)

As his wife gives birth, Victor Exeter’s at the hospital doing business on his cell phone and flirting with nurses. CEO of a Manhattan financial firm, he has an ego that sees no problem with leaving his family for Liza, his secretary. Liza screws up little things for Victor and Ken, his protégé, but Victor can’t fire her – she’s too good in bed. But when he flies to Detroit for meetings, it turns out that Liza rented him a car in Houston. When she’s told to book first-class plane tickets, she sticks outraged CEOs in coach. When it’s time to re-new the firm’s license to sell insurance, she forgets.

The affair unravels and Gwen sues for sexual harassment. She discovers Victor can’t be crossed, so she uses the line of thinking he taught her to frame Ken, the only person who ever encouraged her. This compassionate guy worked hard to find his dream job, fiancee and co-op…it only takes one accusation to ruin his life.

Who's the main character?
Is it Gwen? I don't like her much and if she's the main character she can be vile as can be but there has to be something appealing about her. "Good in bed and stupid" don't work-they aren't things I find appealing.

Is it Ken? He sounds like a dolt.

Is it Victor? He can't be crossed cause he's with the Bloomingdale pack of the Poodle mafia?

You've got a story you want to tell but you'll need more nuance and tighter focus to hook my interest. A shotgun will help too of course.


Anonymous said...

Um...who is Gwen? I thought the mistress was Liza?

Anonymous said...

Okay, it smacks a little of the ticked off assistant with the womanizing egomaniac for a boss. The assistant is the nice guy, just trying to do his job and be a friend to everyone, he gets crapped on, feels the rage, then usurps the authority somehow ala Working Girl.

I agree with MS, there should be more to the plot. You've probably got it in the book, but left it out of the hook. You should put that at the forefront and put the other stuff in the background of the hook. Unless the plot is that the second in command sees the crap that's going on and has to figure out a way to dispose of the bodies. Those are cool, but that's not what the hook indicates to me.

Anonymous said...

Are Gwen and Liza the same person? If not, why isn't Liza suing for sexual harrassmenet?

cm allison said...

Who's Gwen, period. First you're talking about Liza, then suddenly Gwen pops out. If you meant Liza, is your MC not that close to you yet that you forgot her name? Otherwise, where did Gwen enter the story? Ditzy Liza didn't do it for me, sorry.

Kim said...

I'm echoing everyone else in wondering who Gwen is and I'm having a hard time buying into the premise that she can screw over her boss every which way and not get fired. Guys like Victor usually think they can have any woman they want and she'd be more than replaceable, no matter how good she might be in bed.

Victor's obviously a jerk, and that's ok, but Liza/Gwen comes off as looking like a jerk as well and I don't think you want a main character that readers would dislike. Why does she screw up? Is she incompetent or merely nasty? Either way, she would aggravate me. You'd have to make her far more sympathetic and give her a good reason to be such a mess. And then to have her turn around and sue - yikes, frivolous lawsuits wouldn't endear her to me, either. And what does she have against Ken? It seems like he's the only one the tiniest bit decent to her and she effs him over as well. Third strike.

Rethink her motivations and give us a reason to root for her.

dana p said...

Who the heck is Gwen?

And whose story is this, anyway? Victor's? Liza's? Ken's? The mysterious Gwen's?

Miss Snark's rallying cry, "FOCUS!", is certainly called for here.

I do like "she sticks outraged CEOs in coach." Hehe. I can picure them sitting there seething, the self-important jerks.

heidi said...

Me and the rest of the world say, "Who the frell is Gwen?" If you don't mean Liza, you've got some some 'splainin' to do. Otherwise I'm gonna assume they're the same person.

Liza/Gwen is lacking motivation and that makes this hook fall flat.

Liza/Gwen should have a good reason for screwing with the boss while screwing up his career (and a good reason for wanting to screw up his career). When she pushes him too far and he dumps her, she continues her pursuit of whatever it is that's driving her to be all passive-aggressive.

She wants revenge. Why? Dunno. And why is she taking it out on Ken? There's just not enough info here for me to want to like this.

aries said...

Not that it makes the hook any less problematic but this is probably a novel told from multiple viewpoints. Maybe in the upcoming 300 or 400 hooks to come we'll see a successful hook that knows how to play to all of the viewpoints' strengths but this isn't it.

Noelle Ashley said...

A sincere THANK YOU for the help on this novel.

Gwen is Liza. I confess: the ditzy role is obviously based on me (just kidding, but I sent Miss Snark a draft by accident. She said she'd only publish the final version but she's so busy she must've published the draft instead.)

I re-named Gwen in the final version with Liza, a name I've heard more in the MidWest. Read GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, the classic satire I read in Columbia University's "American Classics" literature course. That character is a lot like Liza, a charming, makes-you-laugh ditz, trailer trash that moved to the glamorous city. But Liza ruins the life of Ken, an innocent man, a twist that makes it a dark comedy and differentiates it from GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES.

I need more nuance, tigher focus and a shotgun, I’m assuming that means:

1. Someone should die – I agree BUT is an unborn baby enough of a sacrifice or should it be a character we get to know in the book? Should that be in addition or instead of the baby? Please email me by commenting on my webpage and I’ll tell you whose baby it is.

2. Nuance needed – true. (Is that why every character today is so quirky? Because publishers want nuanced characters?) I will work on describing the nuances of Ken, Liza and Victor in a short hook. Does anyone have any nuances in mind that they’d prefer?

I’d like Liza also to be a bad girl. She’s incompetent, happy-go lucky, oblivious, selfish and, in the end, cutthroat.

3. Tighten focus – so true. I’m mapping out an outline of the scenes and deciding the order of them. I’d like to make Ken the main character and then Liza and Victor the supporting characters but I want to make sure I have enough funny scenes with each of them.
WORKING GIRL is a brilliantly successful plot but I can’t copy it – I need some new elements and I think it’s fun to read about devilish characters like Victor and Liza - think Tom Wolfe’s BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES (Sherman’s character) or Candace Bushnell’s FOUR BLONDES (Janie’s character).
I will write more later. Happy Holidays to all,

Miss Snark said...

egad, sorry about that.
I learned only too late to trash all the "deletes" "revisions" and "toasts".

chalk it up to trying to tame the onslaught.

Noelle Ashley said...

I appreciate your feedback, Miss Snark. No need to apologize after hosting this wonderful event.

I've played around with the shotgun idea and inspiration struck. I have a new twist to add to the novel. I feel that the success of films like "The Departed" and "The Usual Suspects" can be attributed to clever twists.

Thank you again,
Noelle Ashley