Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New Beginning 3 (erotic romance)

She was late, and as she ran up the stone steps outside the Performing Arts Center her heel caught on her dress. The tearing sound the satin made was loud and clear over the strains of the orchestra inside.

"Shit!" Becky stopped and started pawing at the voluminous skirt. Could anything else possibly go wrong tonight? Already, she'd been stuck in a traffic standstill, running behind after one of her clients insisted on hearing Becky's opinion on every single item she planned to take on her honeymoon, including whether or not she should splurge on a pink designer leather case for her birth control pills. Becky finally escaped while the irritating woman placed the order and insisted on overnight delivery.

Her zipper had stuck. The jeweled hair clasp she had inherited from her mother had somehow ended up under the couch and it took almost twenty minutes of crazed hunting to find it. Worst of all, she'd been too rushed to put on underwear, and had nothing beneath her dress.

And now, her one chance at escaping her tedious telemarketing job and becoming conductor of the New York Philharmonic was on the line. She ripped off the ruined dress and ran to the podium in her gloves and shoes. Realizing she'd forgotten one other item, she turned to the audience and asked, "Does anyone happen to have a baton I could hold?"

Continuation: Kate Thornton/Evil Editor


Anonymous said...

If you're running up the stairs, aren't you more likely to step on the front hem of your long dress and trip yourself? I just found myself wondering which part of the dress had been caught, and how, exactly?

Anonymous said...

I agree with EE about the stuck zipper and lost hairclasp. The events related in the excerpt are mundane things that happen hundreds of people everday. What's so special about these events happening to Becky? If I met someone at the orchestra and they told me all about their lost hairclip and stuck zipper, I'd think they were kind of boring and move on to talk to someone else.

Also, I'm curious about the phrase "traffic standstill". Most Americans use the phrase "traffic jam". I did a little google search, to satisfy my own curiousty, and traffic standstill has 704 hits. Traffic jam has 3,840,000. Is the character not American?

Anonymous said...

Is this where the term "bodice ripper" actually got its start? That'd make this a historical erotic romance.

Add an element of mystery and you can query virtually every agent listed at agentquery.com!


Kiki said...

The tearing satin drowning out the orchestra didn't work for me.
Also, for an erotic romance, the language isn't very sensuous.
Maybe it's just a personal preference, but I want to be immersed from the very first sentence. The mood of this piece sounds more cookie-cutter chick lit (aka Yet Another Wedding Coordinator Who Can't Get A Date Story).
I'd love higher stages from the very beginning. And I want to care. Maybe if the dress mattered more to her?

Word verification: vgngu - vegan goo, the latest in take-away lunch options

Anonymous said...

A "strain" is a recongnizable part of a melody. "Row row row your boat/gently down the stream" is a strain. "Merrily merrily etc. /life is but a dream" is the next strain. (More or less. There are motifs and particles, too, and the examples may overlap.) Whatever: A rip that goes on for a strain is a hell of a long rip. Very erotic, but odd.

I really like the ripping dress as opening. Nice sense of what's to come.

Anonymous said...

Becky's late. But why do we care? Is she going to meet someone? Is she performing on stage? Is this her favorite drama and she loves the opening line?

I want to know why she's headed to the Performing Arts Center and why it's important to be on time. I need to know that so that I care about Becky. And her being late.

The backstory about why she's late interrupts the forward motion of the story. It tells me Becky's a wedding planner, I think. But it doesn't make me care.

Or is being late just another incident in a not-going-quite-right day? If so, then it's mundane-not exciting enough.

150 words isn't a lot of time to convey much. But I want enough to keep me reading.

Hope this helps.

Rhonda Helms said...

I have to say, I like the way you are rewriting these. You're tightening the prose and cutting the irrelevant stuff.

This was a great idea!! I've enjoyed reading them so far. Plus, you're still evil, so that's cool. :D

Anonymous said...

I would not use "shit!" there. Use something else instead.

Missy C.

Anonymous said...

The tone sounds like chick-lit to me.

As for the mundane details -- if I broke the string of pearls inherited from my grandmother and pearls bounced all over the place -- THAT would be a disaster. (Although I know they "should" be knotted between each pearl)

Finally, I wouldn't use foul language in public just because I stepped on the hem of my dress. Heavens, one would just call more attention to oneself!

Unknown said...


These aren't nearly as entertaining as your query letters. You're doing a great job on the rewrites but the stories are BORING.

Maybe I haven't had enough caffeine yet or maybe I'm too critical -- but I wouldn't read any further on any of these examples.

Anonymous said...

I think "shit" is the first thing out of many peoples mouths when something goes wrong.

"Hold my beer and watch this."

Grips the steering wheel tight and stomps on the accelerator pedal.


And, sometimes the last.


Anonymous said...

Is it really important to mention the hair clasp was inherited from her mother? Is it a one-time thing or will it have some significance later?

Malia: I think these are more entertaining than the queries, so it looks like it works both ways.


Anonymous said...

Thought I'd say right up front that I like both the queries and beginnings. That the beginnings don't seem to have any zip...well, that's not easy in 150 words.

But look at it from the perspective of an editor or agent. Both have to impress said editor or agent, or you're outta there. So that's the way I'm looking at it, which is actually a nice service to us Minions. :-)

Hmm...I'm thinking of submitting my first 150 words...but with my luck, by the time I decide to do it, EE will probably stop doing it.


Verification: gknceu - my sentiments exactly.

Stacia said...


This is mine. Thanks for all the help with the phrasing, EE-she is outside, hearing her dress rip over the faint sound of the orchestra that's inside. It wasn't a really loud rip that made people stare at her, especially since everyone else is inside. (Only one quibble-with all due respect, EE, I never said this was the worst day of her life. She's just been frustrated by a series of small irritating mishaps that have made her late, and her ex-husband will not be pleased since it's his charity ball she's going to, as we learn in the next paragraph.)

I can see how I need to fix that, and correct the erroneous assumption that Becky is a wedding planner. She's an image consultant.

Elvira, I don't know how she managed to rip the dress, either...just like I didn't know how I managed to do it when I did it. :-) I can fix that, too, though.

If the word "shit" is not to your taste, erotic romance is probably not the genre for you. Becky is an adult and uses adult language, and so do the many sex scenes in the book. :-)

Very educational! Thanks everyone, really. I'm only about 20k words into this and it's a bit of a departure in voice and story for me, so I was wondering if the tone worked and if my opening was grabby enough (I'm terrible at openings).

Evil Editor said...

I never said this was the worst day of her life.

True, but she implies that things have been going wrong all night, and considering the situation, she probably feels it's among the worst. Whether it's the worst or not, a stuck zipper doesn't increase the immense sympathy the reader feels for her.

Anonymous said...

[If you go with the pink case, it means you're hoping for a girl when the pills don't work.]

Um... Evil, you are a poor pray of... superstitions.

Unknown said...

That the beginnings don't seem to have any zip...well, that's not easy in 150 words.

I have to agree it's not easy but it IS necessary. From the very first word, it is your job as a writer to engage a reader. Zip, style, flavor, tone, voice -- whatever you call it -- should be there in the first 150 words.

Anonymous said...

It is bad luck to be supersticious.

Anonymous said...

Heh. Just goes to show you that you're not a woman. If all that added up to the ripping of the skirt, I'd be swearing a blue streak. At this point, I'm wondering what else can go wrong--and waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Or I would be if I was into chic lit.

astrologymemphis.blogspot.com said...

December! I should have known this was yours. I'll be brave and say I like it. A year (two years?) ago, that blonde ... uh ... Nicole Kidman, filmed some gorgeous commercials. I think they were for perfume or diamonds, maybe. I never actually saw one of them, just a clip on the filming of them. Anyway, she wore this white gown with a train and it obviously had hoops underneath from the way it moved. She also ran up stone steps, late for something. I'm not a fan of hers, but the commercials were total eye candy and beautifully done. And that's what your opening reminds me of. Hell yeah, I'd read it.

Anonymous said...

A pray of superstitions--is that like a murder of crows? I kinda like it.

Anonymous said...

This is very upsetting to me. I know Becky, and she would not talk like that, nor would she appear as some slapper in an "erotic romance". December Quinn better have a good lawyer.

Stacia said...

This is very upsetting to me. I know Becky, and she would not talk like that, nor would she appear as some slapper in an "erotic romance". December Quinn better have a good lawyer.

LOL!! That made my morning!

Bring it ON!!

Anonymous said...

I ripped the hem out of my skirt running up steps by catching the back of it with my heel. That's what I get for wearing stilettos. And this is what I said when it happened:


Evil Editor said...

To Evil Editor, a temporarily stuck zipper and a temporarily lost hair clasp aren't so tragic that they would make my list of things that made this the worst day of my life. Perhaps it's different with a woman. Or perhaps you could come up with one or two replacement annoyances on the level of a purse snatching/flat tire/pus-oozing sore in the middle of her nose.