Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Face-Lift 178

Guess the Plot

Nine to Five

1. When a series of injuries and ejections takes nearly half of the Scottsville Sluggers off the field, it's going to take everything they have, and then some, if they want to win the most critical game of their season.

2. Becca Tatum keeps losing men who are intimidated by her great 9 to 5 job. Her solution: tell her new man she's unemployed. Hilarity ensues.

3. Bookie Swifty Malone calculates his chances of getting a date with debutante Cecilia Vandervoort, the woman of his dreams.

4. The night shift always depressed security guard Stuart Possle. But the Donut Shack opened at five A.M., so there was always something to live for.

5. Middle school math teacher Roger Hamilton gets in trouble with the school board when he takes his class to the horse races for a lesson in statistics.

6. Every afternoon, Henrietta disappears at precisely nine minutes to five. And every morning she reappears at nine to five. Poor Henrietta doesn't know where she is half the time.

Original Version

Becca Tatum is successful. She's got a great job, a condo in downtown Chicago, a car, everything that a 25-year-old could possibly want. [Can you hook me up with her?] [The first sentence is blah. Dump it and change the second to Becca Tatum has everything a 25-year-old could possibly want: a great job, a condo in downtown Chicago, and a new red Mustang (or whatever car company is willing to pay for product placement).] She's even got a great boyfriend...until, intimidated by her independence, he runs for the hills. [Which, from Chicago, is quite a run.] And he's not the first one to do that. [What man wouldn't run from a woman with a job, a condo, and a car? Just thinking about her has me wishing I had my security blanket and Valium next to the computer.]

Becca has had enough. Why can't guys just appreciate her for who she is instead of worrying about her lifestyle and how theirs may not compare? So when she meets the gorgeous, charming Daniel Kennerly -- who happens to be an "aspiring artist" (read: total slacker) -- she decides to reinvent herself for his benefit. From here on out, she'll be Becca Tatum, unemployed. [Did it ever occur to her that it's not the fact she has a job that bothers guys, but the fact that she's a proctologist?]

This doesn't mean she's actually going to quit her job -- just find a way to hide it from Daniel as their romance blossoms. And, of course, that kind of deception never goes anywhere good. Especially when she ends up in charge of planning a huge benefit that, suddenly, has a very personal meaning. [Not clear. If she's running an art show to benefit the unemployed, in which Daniel's participating, it's okay to reveal this. That way we can anticipate the ensuing hilarity.]

Nine to Five, [Is this title vital? With the movie and song already out there (not to mention some books with the exact same title and dozens for which that's part of the title) maybe it's worth looking for something more original.] complete at 70,000 words, provides a look at one of the most challenging dilemmas facing young women in the dating scene: [Men.] How can you keep your identity as a strong woman in a world where so many men want to be in control of the relationship? [Is this still a problem? Don't most men today, like Evil Editor, want to be dominated by women? Preferably two at a time?] In reversing the frequently-used fictional formula in which the protagonist pretends to be something better than he or she is, Nine to Five provides an unexpected and engaging "chick-lit" style story that may be exaggerated, but will ring true for many women.


I'd like to hear more about how the deception goes badly. I'm thinking that's what makes or breaks this, whether it's hilarious (or heartbreaking, if that's what you're going for) and original or humdrum.


Christine said...

"How can you keep your identity as a strong woman in a world where so many men want to be in control of the relationship? [Is this still a problem? Don't most men today, like Evil Editor, want to be dominated by women? Preferably two at a time?]"

Perhaps in the world of proctology there are still 'control' issues?

Anonymous said...

Daniel Kennerly is my brother's name. Seriously....author, do you know him?

Randomness ensues.

marie-anne said...

I'm sorry, I just dont buy the premise of this story. I think the times of the man being intimidated by a woman who is independant and gainfully employed, maybe even better than he is, are long gone. I think the few men who are intimidated are very few and very far between.

I work as a finishing carpenter and in 6 years I have never run into any man who was intimidated or threatened by my job, or who treated me with anything less than respect. Men are different now. I cant say that they are a lot more sensitive but they really are a little more aware of things. Even if they never articulate it and still wont change the empty roll of toilet paper.

Besides (long comment, I know, sorry) what relationship will survive a lie that basic and that big? I've never understood those scenarios. I would never forgive the lying so and so. How can you continue a relationship when that whole relationship is based on a lie.

Oh and by the way, being an artist doesnt make a person a slacker. Just saying.

HawkOwl said...

I don't know if I'd read it, but the plot is dead on. :) Good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

Improving my guessing average-got this one correct.

Don't like the character name or the title of the book. Could like the story if it is funny as promised.

I think you're overstating the challenge, too with one of the most challenging dilemmas language(this coming from a woman with a doctorate degree and a professional job that sometimes scares people).

"may be exaggerated"--is it? or not?

I say up the ante-spoof, exaggerate, blow things out of proportion in the story-and then let us enjoy it with an understated query.


good luck.

Hey, my word verification is himism--maybe that's what Becca engages in with her deception!

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to figure out what the hell she sees in this guy. Most women (me included)who have worked hard to get to where they are, are confident enough and proud enough of their accomplishments that they aren't going to hide them to get a man. And honestly, they will want men who have probably accomplished some things themselves. Otherwise, what is the attraction? Is he just really good in bed?

I wouldn't read this book simply because I know I won't care about a main character who is so desperate to find a man that she is willing to hide every thing that is true about her life. It's like Pink's song, "Stupid Girls". I don't want to be one and I don't want to read about one either.

mercury said...

thanks, everyone, for your comments! I really appreciate all the input.

first of all, the title is working only -- I haven't settled on anything I really love and do intend to change it, so all suggestions are welcome.

second, sadly, I do think this is a real problem. it's happened to me, it's happened to my friends. part of it may be living in an area of the country where traditional values are prevalent, but guys seem to hate not being the breadwinner in the relationship in many cases.

I wouldn't choose Becca's solution to the problem...but hey, that's why it's fiction.

and anonymous, I don't know your brother; want to introduce us? ;)

whitemouse said...

I'm with Marie-Anne; I don't find this premise even slightly believable.

My sister-in-law has a pair of degrees and great-paying job. She's married to a welder. His take on the disparity between their incomes and prestige levels is simply: "I know! Did I hit the jackpot, or what?"

The only way I could see this story making logical sense is if Becca is a idiot and her boyfriends-who-can't-handle-successful-women are chauvinist losers who she is better off without anyway.

I'm not eager to read a book where either the plot makes no sense or the characters are profoundly unsympathetic. It seems like this premise would force the resulting book to be one of the two.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

I'd hoped for #6.

I have mixed opinions on the plot. In the south, yes, a lot of men I know want to be the "bread winners" and do get a little pissy if their wives make more. I can see this being an issue.

However, my strongest thought on this was, "What? She's that big a bitch?" If a guy really likes a girl, he won't care how successful she is, and will support her work and her ambition. So, he must not like her enough - does her ambition and control overflow to ALL areas of her life, including dating, and she comes off as a harsh bitch to guys?

Like I said, not sure how I feel about it.

HawkOwl said...

Yeah, but then, welders are smarter than people with degrees. And if they're good welders, they make a lot more money. Maybe your sister-in-law's man is just a slacker. (Either my current or my ex is a welder, the other is a professor. Guess which one has the brains and the cash?)

MaryKaye said...

I'm sure this attitude still exists in some places, but boy, you'd have to be *awfully* funny to make it entertaining for me--it just sounds excruciating. But I'm probably not in your target audience. I have a PhD; my husband of 16 years is a college dropout. We cope fine.

Anonymous said...

This is Fiction. Yanno, where the reader's supposed to suspend their disbelief. If it's not for you, fine - but, judging by the hordes of senior citizens around the Romance section, it's bound to appeal to someone. Not me, of course. It's market research...

Kylie said...

If you want to make this premise work, you have to make her super-successful. Most men these days can handle a women with a good job, car, and home, but maybe not a woman who is the youngest CEO in Chicago or something as daunting as that. Otherwise, I'd think she's just been dating the wrong guys.
Good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

I liked #3 and #5.

Anyway. I agree with marie-anne. What I would give for my wife to have a career so I could slack off.

I think someone made the point that the "slacker/artist" is the wrong type that would be intimidated by a career woman, on the contrary! He would think he died and went to heaven.

I wouldn't read this but that is not to say that it isn't well written. It's the plot that's got me turned off. -JTC

Megan said...

While the premise demands a certain amount of suspension of belief--for me, about the unemployment lie more than the intimidated man thing--I have to say that the query itself is really rather good!

Just add in that specific that EE mentioned, and change the generic title. The genre will allow a certain amount of silliness. I guess I've met enough men like your Daniel that the silliness is not too much for me.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I'm not buying that guys in Chicago are intimidated by a gal with a job and a Mustang. A CEO job and a Porsche, maybe, but a Mustang and a condo?

What era is this???

I live in the South and have NEVER seen a man put off by a moderately successful woman. Nor have any of my friends.

For me to believe this premise, I'd need more information. Maybe instead of Chicago, she lives in a small, conservative town? Maybe she only dates within a narrow ethnic or religious group with old-fashioned notions? Maybe the story is set in the 1950s? Is it just this one guy who has this narrow mind-set? Or maybe Becca's perception is skewed and she's been told to expect men to be intimidated, so she just assumes they are? (Could be hilarious, IMO.)

Any of these scenarios would work. But it seriously strains my credibility to think that in present-day Chicago (where I have friends and family, btw), men are put off by Mustang-driving women.

I know this is fiction, but if you're going to set this in a real place in a real era, you have to make sure people will believe you know what your talking about. Otherwise, you might as well put the Sistine Chapel in Chicago, too. Go for broke, right?

Anonymous said...

My solution would be to date younger men.

Rei said...

I agree with most of the other posters here.

I love the reversing of tropes and cliches. At one point in the future, I plan to write a fantasy novel in which the nemesis is part of a plucky band of adventurers, and the hero is one of many "Good minions" that a "good overlord" dispatches, one by one, in order from weakest to strongest. I like the concept of turning a cliche or trope on its head in order to poke fun at it and make something original at the same time. Pratchett is famous for this.

But, really: a woman, in Chicago of all places, who is consistantly finding men intimidated by her success? And it's not like she's a multimillionaire and they're construction workers, either -- she has a job, a condo, and a car. Woo. And then this woman, who seems like the type who should be self confident, decides to hide it all?

You'd have to do a masterful job to make this fly with me.

braun said...

Mercury - I am a very progressive kind of guy and totally open to this arrangement. You work, I'll stay at home and write. Call me!

* is teasing *

mercury said...

Braun, are you good with pets, too? If so, we have a deal! =)

For those of you who have trouble with this concept: Would you find it easier to believe if it was set in the South? I live in the South, but I set it in Chicago for various reasons of convenience...now I'm starting to wonder.

kis said...

Actually, the issues these days are not so much with male co-workers, but with boyfriends and husbands. Marie-Anne may be a finish carpenter and have no problems. That might not be the case if she was the boss. Especially if one of her, um, underlings was her husband.

All questions of EE's sexual proclivities aside, even men who want to be dominated by stiletto-clad, puffy-lipped Angelina Jolie look-alikes get their backs up when their wives come home with a bigger, ahem, paycheque than they do, or with news of a promotion when their husbands' careers have stalled. There are women out there who go to great pains to conceal from their spouses the fact that they are the true breadwinners of the family.

Not every man (or woman) out there is 25 and openminded. My husband is in his fifties--17 years older than me--and it still galls him that I can make more money in a four-hour shift than he can in eight. If I'm ever published, I know he'll be overjoyed, but there will always be a part of him that worries I will ourank him in some way. That I'll seize the reins of the family and leave him no proverbial pants, or that I'll leave him altogether for someone better or smarter or younger or richer. I understand that this is his problem, and I don't indulge it, but I can empathize.

Male roles are seen as strong. Female roles are seen as weak. When women have invaded all the male roles and displaced them men, there's no role for them to fill that won't seem to them a demotion. It's not fair. It's not right. But unfortunately, it still is a fact of life.

Anonymous said...

"It's not right. But unfortunately, it still is a fact of life."

Maybe in yours, kis, but apparently not in many other people's.

HawkOwl said...

Maybe in yours, kis, but apparently not in many other people's.

If a random sample were polled, I bet more people would agree with Kis than disagree. It doesn't hold for everyone in the narrow demographic that visits EE's blog - that doesn't mean it's not plausible. I bet most people here take birth control for granted, too.

braun said...

I am great with pets, although the only kind of parakeet I like is fried.

Stargazer said...

Kis, you're uncanny. I've just read an article about two women who 'retrained' their husbands and wrote a best seller, 'The Scorecard: How to fix your man in one year or less.'

The interviewer is a high flyer too and has problems within her own marriage. "All our men resent the woman earning more than they do; seem incapable of taking out the rubbish; no longer talk to us."

Perhaps Becca can get some hints?

bunnygirl said...

mercury, I don't think region is necessarily the problem here. I live in the South, I'm nearly 40, have dated guys up into their 50s and have yet to find any who are intimidated by a gal who makes more money than them, unless the discrepancy is really big and includes a class difference. And I would be put off by that myself. Ask me why I never dated a rich man, LOL!

It's really more of an urban thing. If you're going to set the story in a major urban center of several million people, I'm going to have trouble believing that every man Becca meets is going to freak that she has a condo and a job.

If it were me, I'd set the story in a conservative small town, or maybe a small city that is losing its blue collar economic base. Becca has a fancy job with one of the "new" businesses and the men whose jobs are being outsourced to Mexico can't compete, and are resentful that she's doing so well.

Or if you mainly want this to be funny, go ahead and set it in Chicago or some other urban area. Have Becca's mom, sister and friends all be lawyers and bank VPs married to substitute teachers and happy househusbands. Yet somehow Becca only seems to attract the Neanderthals. Frustrated and fed up, she resolves to make the next relationship work, no matter what she has to do.

As EE says, "Hilarity ensues."

Daisy said...

Believability aside, my problem with this is that the heroine here comes off as incredibly weak. I mean, she meets a couple of sexist jerks and she decides that the fact that she's smart and successful is the problem? And to fix it she has to go through some elaborate and degrading farce? No thanks. Now, maybe if you stole a page from "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" and had her pretend to be unemployed to win a bet with a friend who doesn't believe her that men prefer goldigging slackers*... That I could maybe get into.

*Of course, she would have to end up falling for the guy. And then he turns out to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, pretending to be an artist.

Jeb said...

The setup bugged me, too, but not because it's implausible. Living in a socially conservative area, I know men that hidebound and women desperate enough to start every relationship with a big, deliberate lie.

However... I don't choose to read about desperate, stupid women who otherwise have it all. My mystery readers' group calls them TSTL's: Too Stupid To Live (or Like).

In mysteries or romantic suspense novels, these are the emperiled heroines who go alone, sans cellphone, to meet suspects in remote locations after dark, telling no-one. In romance, these are the women who lie, cheat, conceal their children or their husbands or the mad mother-in-law in the attic, and yet end up living happily ever after with the man they lied to for the first 250 pages.

I as a reader don't like these TSTL women. I don't care about their woes. I don't identify with their dumb decisions. When the whole conflict of the book is based on a premise I find well below the IQ waterline, I don't identify with or sympathize with the protagonist. I think they'd get what they deserved in 10 minutes or less in real life, and I won't waste any more than 10 minutes on reading about them.

Sorry. I choose to read about women I can have some respect for, even if they don't always make the right decisions.