Monday, January 28, 2013

Bouncer Post #105


Title: JUMPING ANTS
Genre: Adult Upmarket Fiction
Word Count: 100,000

Query:

Who gets fired from an unpaid internship? Only someone with a talent for self sabotage as well-honed as Max Walker’s. The charming but aimless twenty-nine-year-old gets himself hired, fired, and evicted from his parents’ house in the same week. Max is then waiting in line at a fast-food drive-thru assessing which friend’s couch he’ll now call home when a stranger opens his car door, points a gun at him, and orders him to drive.  

Max keeps one eye on the road and one eye on the gleaming metal barrel as he drives the peculiar yet desperate stranger, who calls himself “Z,” into rural Pennsylvania. The truth that Z soon reveals, that his screwups have led to the impending nuptials of his ex to another man, bonds the two, and they hatch a plan to win back the woman Z calls his soul mate. 

The car crash, the drunken bar fight, and especially the feisty bartender they meet along the way force Max to admit the unfazed grin he’s been honing hasn’t been fooling anyone, least of all himself. The older, rounder, more beaten-down version of himself Max sees in Z makes him want . . . something, anything, everything. But he plans to start with the bartender. Before it's too late, Max and Z must both convince the women who have found their way into their hearts that although you can't change for someone, you can change because of someone. 

A comedic adventure with a dash of romance and a pinch of soul searching, JUMPING ANTS will appeal to fans of Jonathan Tropper, Nick Hornby, and Lauren Weisberger.

A professional editor and writer for more than seventeen years, I have a B.A. in journalism.

First 250:

“Sorry,” Max said into his cell phone. “It’s like a Bon Jovi concert just let out.” 

That wasn’t exactly a lie. It being 5 p.m. on a rainy Friday in a New Jersey suburb twenty miles from New York City meant Max had been delayed by traffic. But that’s not why he was being delayed right at that moment. Right then, the reason why Max wasn’t pulling into his parents’ driveway, his Mini Cooper bursting with shopping bags, was because he was in line at a drive-thru waiting to order a fast-food burger. Max didn’t even like fast-food burgers. But his stomach was growling like a bear aggressively protecting her cub. 

Max was up next. He couldn’t let his mom know he was waiting to order fast food instead of ticking off another errand on her list. 

“Right, rush hour,” his mother said.

Oh, the guilt. “But I’ll finish as fast as I can,” Max said. 

Beep, beep.

“Sorry, Mom, my phone’s almost out of juice. But I’ll be home soon. I promise.” 

Beep, beep.

“Max, wait, exactly how long do you figure?”

Beep, beep.

The car in front of Max was moving. It was going to be his turn. He had to hang up. Now.
“Mom, I gotta go.”

Beep, beep.

“Okay, Max. Drive safely.”     

“Yeah, Mom, I—” Max’s cell phone went dead.

Just in time. Max pulled up to the menu board and tossed the phone over his head into the backseat. 

“May I take your order?” 

6 comments:

  1. I really like this idea and I think your story starts in just the right place.

    Some suggestions--

    I'm not sure I would start the query off with a question, even if it isn't a rhetorical one. Have you tried combining the first two sentences? "Only someone with a well-honed talent for self sabotage could get himself fired from an unpaid internship." Then start the next sentence, "Max Walker is a charming..."

    Other than that there are just a couple of word choices I think could tighten your sentences up:

    In the query--

    "The truth Z soon reveals..." - Drop 'soon'

    "...unfazed grin he’s been honing hasn't been fooling anyone," - Drop the 2nd 'been' and change 'fooling' to 'fooled.'


    In the first 250--

    "...like a bear aggressively protecting her cub." - I'm not usually the adverb police, but I really think 'aggressively' is unnecessary here. Nobody imagines a timid she-bear defending her cub.

    These are just my opinions and are very subjective. And other than those couple of minor details, my opinion is that this is a strong query and opening page. Max really comes alive as I'm reading his dialogue, especially. Great job and good luck!

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  2. Love the title. It makes me wonder how it ties in with the story. It's definitely an eye catcher. And after reading your query, it looks like you jump right into the action.

    I have a few other issues. This may be a personal preference thing, so keep that in mind, but the sentence structure is hard to read. And I had to go back and re-read to make sure I was getting it right. For example:

    The charming but aimless twenty-nine-year-old gets himself hired, fired, and evicted from his parents’ house in the same week.

    I think it'd be stronger as something like: Max, a charming but aimless 29-yr old, is fired and evicted...

    Or this one. The older, rounder, more beaten-down version of himself Max sees in Z makes him want...

    Again, I think it'd be stronger as Max sees an older, rounder, and more beaten-down version of himself in Z.

    Like I said, it might just be a personal preference thing, but it's something that made me kind of stumble when I was reading it.

    Good luck!

    #83

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  3. I like the 250 starting in a drive-thru! Very real scene. I have a few suggestions: for your query, maybe you could be a bit more concise in a few places? you say "Max keeps one eye on the road and one eye on the gleaming metal barrel as he drives"... can you just write "he keeps one eye on....while he drives." That would say the same thing.

    The other suggestion: The 2nd paragraph I had to read a couple of times. You write--"It being 5 p.m. on a rainy Friday in a New Jersey suburb twenty miles from New York City meant Max had been delayed by traffic. But that’s not why he was being delayed right at that moment" Something here just doesn't flow-- The "It being" part is awkward, as well as the fact that you say it MEANT he had been delayed. But the next sentence you say that's NOT why he was being delayed at that moment. So can you be more clear here? Maybe say "A rainy Friday in a NJ suburb at 5 p.m. would normally mean....but at this moment it was really just..."

    Otherwise, I really like this scene. The dialogue with Mom and "beep, beep" are effective!

    Hope that helps! Tracy (#84)

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  4. Your premise is engaging. It piques my interest and promises both humour and growth of the MC, which is what I like to read about.
    As people have mentioned, your writing can be wordy with too much description/comparison of minor details like the traffic or hunger. It obscures the great voice of the character and slows down the pace.
    So just a bit of paring down and you will have an appealing query and great book.

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  5. Bouncer on the EdgeJanuary 31, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    I came back to this entry repeatedly while trying to make my decision. Something about it hooks me. I am not a fan of the bear/stomach comparison, but perhaps it is a reflection of the character's penchant for cliche? I'd have to read on to find out, which I want to do. You're in.

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  6. Lori A. Goldstein (@_lagold)February 1, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    Thanks Bouncer! I appreciate your interest and moving me forward. Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful comments. I will take a look at yours, Suzi and Tracy. Been a crazy week but anxious to dig in and read some excerpts now!

    ReplyDelete