Tuesday is here, which means it's time for the Beta Club! Are you ready to put that critical eye to use?
If you're new to this feature, don't be afraid to jump in with your comments. All feedback is welcome as long as it's constructive. And if anyone has an itch to be critiqued, the rules for submitting to the Beta Club are under the "Free Critiques" heading at the top of the page.
Also, Tina Lynn, our first Beta Club volunteer, has revised her excerpt based on our input. She's posted the updated version on her blog. Be sure to stop by and tell her what you think!
Alright, please read through the author's excerpt, then provide your feedback in the comments. My detailed critique is below.
Author: Rebecca (visit her at Diary of a Virgin Novelist)
Genre: Commercial Fiction
Daylight fought its way in aroundthe edges of the window shades and the old, dust-covered box fan rattled in thecorner of the room. Eleanor cracked aneye open, disorientated. Her mouth feltcarpeted and her shirt, the same flimsy, black top she’d worn to the bar thenight before, was damp with sweat. Thebed was smooth and empty next to her; the clock on her husband, Andrew’s,nightstand read 10:07. She wondered whatday it was.
Eleanor leapt from the bed. There was something she was supposed to be doing. From far away came the tinny sound of aphone. Stumbling from the bedroom,pantless and little dizzy, she tried to find the noise. Debris from her arrival home littered thecramped apartment – heels kicked off in the hallway, wool coat flung to thefloor, jeans balled up on the leather armchair – but no purse. Eleanor’s heart seized in that panicky,hungover way that accompanies realizing you slept with someone ugly the nightbefore or cackled to a friend about her new boyfriend’s creepy small hands. Eleanor could taste sour whiskey in the backof her throat. And that damn phone wasstill ringing.
Following the sound, Eleanorsnatched her coat off the floor. Searching through the pockets she found nothing but a five-dollar billand a slip of paper with a number scrawled across it. Frustrated, Eleanor threw the coat to theground. Looking down at the puddle ofgray material, Eleanor saw her bag right by her feet. It had been under the coat the whole f***ingtime. Wincing in pain from her throbbinghead and complete ineptitude, she dug the cell phone out and gingerly held itto her ear.
“You’re up! I was afraid I was going to have to call you over and over to rouse youfrom the dead.” Andrew’s voice was clear and bright. He was always so damn chipper in the morning.
“When did I get home last night?”
“Sometime after three AM,” Andrewsaid. “You told me you wanted to buy a Rottweiler so you could terrorize thekids in the neighborhood and then you passed out.”
“That must have been attractive,”Eleanor said as she wandered the 12 feet across the living room. She knew it was 12 feet because she hadmeasured it in a fit of rage a few weeks after moving into the apartment.
“Very much so,” Andrewchuckled. “Now, don’t forget yourinterview is at 11:30. You need to getmoving.”
Eleanor peered at her image in themirror over the mantle. Her normallyperfect, asymmetrical bob was matted and stuck to the back of her skull; blackeye makeup cut a trail down her face. “That’s right. The interview. I knew I had something to do today.”
“You’re going to be great.”Eleanor could hear him typing in the background. “Just be your normal,wonderful self. If they ask why you leftyour last job just tell them what we practiced: you wanted to work for a smaller,more personable firm where you could have a larger impact.”
“And if they ask about thepenises?”
“They’re not going to ask aboutthe penises,” Andrew said, dropping his voice on the word penises. “And if they do, say you made a youthfulindiscretion, you were going through a tough time in your personal life, youmade a horrendous mistake but sincerely hope that you will be given a secondchance. Then redirect them to yourportfolio. Your work stands for itself.”
“What are you typing?” Eleanorasked.
“Nothing.” Eleanor walked backtowards the kitchen, praying for coffee. “I like this idea of a youthful indiscretion. I didn’t know those werestill allowed at 33.”
“I’m pretty sure that was yourlast one.” Eleanor could hear someone come in to Andrew’s office.
“What if I don’t want this job?”she said in a small voice. There was noreply. Eleanor could hear the muffledsounds of Andrew speaking to a woman, probably that toothy girl who worked insales and wore her hair in a ponytail. Ahigh ponytail.
“Sorry, Eleanor,” Andrew saidafter a beat, “It’s a busy day here. I’ve got to run but call me later. Good luck, honey.”
My critique is below. Click on FULL SCREEN, then once in the document, right click to zoom so you can see the comments.
Alright, so what do you think? Are you hooked? What did the author do well? What things could be improved? Thanks ahead of time for offering your feedback!
*Today's Theme Song**
"Morning After" - Dead By Sunrise
(player in sidebar--go ahead, take a listen)