12.27.2006

HH Com 484

"Nana died," Mom said, calling for the first time in a year. But it's not the dead Marty Jones mourns she's more concerned about the departed. Now she must get in a car and drive cross-country to Arizona with her mother and two sisters, all perpetually pre-menstrual, all who hate each other. As if this estrogen-drenched bitch-wagon wasn't bad enough, Marty has to deal with meeting a side of her family she hardly knows and fraternizing with a convicted murderer-uncle isn't in her repertoire.

Meanwhile, Marty's boyfriend Peter is no help. He stares blankly at her while she packs and slips an engagement ring into her suitcase while she's not looking. Peter doesn't know what kind of family he's trying to join, and finding the ring just adds to Marty's troubles. Phoenix is 65,000 words.


They don't have airplanes? You put in the road trip cause you need it for the novel, not cause it's what anyone would actually do. This screams contrivance. The way you describe Peter makes him seem unhinged.

This is a mess but don't blame the hook.

10 comments:

MWT said...

Unless of course they're too poor to buy airplane tickets. If this were set a few years back, when gas was still reasonably priced, a roadtrip would be very plausible.

My family roadtripped around the country like that all the time when I was growing up.

melospiza said...

You have some problems with sentence construction and parallelism. Even if I put a comma after "mourns" in the second sentence, I don't understand the difference between "dead" and "departed." Then Marty has to deal with meeting a side of her family, with an unrelated complete sentence tacked on the end. Then I think SHE packs and slips an engagement ring in her purse while SHE isn't looking--huh?

How old is Marty? Is her mother likely to be premenopausal, not premenstrual? That's at least as hormonally haywire, and might make the trip even more godawful. Good luck.

jamiehall said...

This hook is a mess, but I don't have a problem with the road trip vs. airplanes thing. Yes, you can still do a road trip cheaper if you're intelligent and frugal. Besides, if you'll need your own car after you get there for some reason (pick one, there are many) then you've got to do a road trip anyway.

December Quinn said...

I'm afraid to fly.


But I still had to read that first sentence like four times before I understood it, and I don't understand this book still. Is it a comedy? Phrases like "bitch-wagon" give me some hope (although seriously, I am so dreadfully tired of hearing about hormones and PMS and periods being blamed for bitchiness. Why can't these women just be bitchy, without having to have hormones dragged into it at all? Why do we assume that all women have these issues? I generally only crave red meat. And I'm so tired of the idea that women's menstrual cycles rule their entire personalities. It's not cute. It's insulting.) Anyway, "bitch-wagon" is a good phrase, but the rest seems unfocused and what kind of man sticks an engagement ring in someone's bag without them knowing?

BernardL said...

I have a couple of family members who will not get on an airplane, and of course there's John Madden the football announcer. Whatever broadcasting network hires him also picks up the tab for his tour bus and driver. If no such phobia exists, the Snark is right. If it does, it would have to be a small part of the hook: Marty can't get on an airplane, but her Nana has died and...

writtenwyrdd said...

The road trip could work, but tell us the reason? Is she worried about the trip because Mom is afraid of flying and posessing nervous tics that make shepherding her impossible?

And, a point of logic, if boyfriend doesn't know what kind of family he's trying to marry into, how is it she is going on a road trip with family, mom and sisters? They are close by, right? He'd likely have plenty of opportunity to meet them.

I suggest you sit down with the plot points and ask why and how a character would do these things.

Katie said...

Okay, I love the term "estrogen-drenched bitch wagon". I can't help it, I just do.

Anonymous said...

they're poor. they can't afford airplane tickets. the road trip isn't a gimmick for a novel ... it hardly takes up any of it, and in fact actually happened. but thanks for the feedback ... at least i know how it comes off.

- no. 484

Anonymous said...

"But it's not the departed Marty Jones mourns, she's more concerned about the living."


That's how it's supposed to read. Sorry. Last-minute editing error.

Anonymous said...

Still incorrect punctuation, author; it should be a semicolon, not a comma. If you wrote, "it's not the departed she mourns, but the living" it could be a comma.

Have someone proof everything you send out--queries, cover letters, your bio. Everything. It's worth it, because you don't get a second chance with strangers, and many people in publishing started as editors.

Editors care about grammar and clean writing.