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  1. #1
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    Post TABLE TALK - Here goes round two!

    Hello again!
    I hope I was able to take the advice and make this one better! I thank anyone in advance for reading an giving any critiques.


    Friday night at The Cheesecake Factory and the place is a madhouse. Not only in the sense that itís particularly busy, but full-on insanity.

    Itís early, but already the waitress has dodged a flying fork thanks to a feisty anorexic on a group outing with her psychiatrists and fellow members of the nearby Residence. That wasnít the only dish the waitress apparently got wrong and she got plenty of heat from the gluten intolerant seated at another table.

    Not everyone may be certifiably on the other side of sanity but they do fall quite close. One never knows how a blind date will wind up, but one manís Match.com meeting has lead to an impromptu, and borderline inappropriate, photo shoot on site. The kitchen and wait staff are trying to hold it together but seem to be on the losing end of this one.

    TABLE TALK Ė A NIGHT OF EAVESDROPPING, is a 55,000-word audio tour of a restaurant on a hectic Friday night. Between the different table conversations there lies an overlap where one drifts off and bumps into the next through a chance encounter of characters. A hitting of the shoulders, a rude intrusion, an awkward question. Though, not all of the diners at separate tables are strangers and two of them have very dark plans for the man at the barÖand their little secret is far more or a sin than eavesdropping.

    TABLE TALK is often times humorous, many times a poignant reflection of human nature, and insightful as to how perfect strangers may deeply effect our lives.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.



  2. #2
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    Caitlin,

    Much better. This one doesn't beg for a rejection like the last one did, in my opinion.

    Couple things stand out for improvement.

    1. The ordering. You've got your high-drama statement about the dark plans in the stats/theme graph. You've got everything coming back to the waitstaff in the summary section instead of pinging between the tables, which is how you say the story plays.

    2. Awkward phrasing in spots.

    3. Vacillating theme. In the summary section, you stress the crazy aspect of the night. In the stat/theme graph you stress the chance encounters that change lives.

    I'm just going to do a quick reorder and pinging between characters to show what I mean on the first one.


    Friday night at The Cheesecake Factory and the place is a madhouse.

    It’s early, but already the waitress has dodged a flying fork thanks to a feisty anorexic on a group outing with her psychiatrists and fellow members of the nearby Residence. Even the anorexic is embarrassed as the gluten intolerant biker berates the waitress for accidentally delivering a banana cream pie -- with crust. When a middle-aged man turns his Match.com date into an impromptu, and borderline inappropriate, photo shoot, even the cook can't resist a peek. The two men, whispering together, can. They have secrets and plans far more sinful than eavesdropping.

    TABLE TALK – A NIGHT OF EAVESDROPPING, is a 55,000-word audio tour that drifts and pings between the tables as characters come to understand how perfect strangers can change everything.


    So the idea of clumping the related stuff together frees up a lot of room.

    With that extra room, I'd address the third point. This vacillating. Until we get to the strangers, it all just feels funny. There's none of this poignant reflection or insight you promise later. You don't want to rely on telling the agent you've got humor, insight, etc. You want to show them. Try skipping all the chatter (to steal leslee's favorite word here) about crazy, insanity and losing it. Show the increasing craziness of the night as you move through each character. Show the power of eavesdropping -- for good or ill. You've got humor already. Show the poignancy and insight within the character tidbits. You can hint at a lot of poignancy with a just a phrase or two for each.

    On the second point, about the awkward phasing in places, I suspect you just aren't being precise with how you're using words. I'll just take one sentence and hopefully thinking through this one will set you on your way to getting rid of this sort of thing.

    [I]...already the waitress has dodged a flying fork thanks to a feisty anorexic..."

    I bet you meant that the fork flew, thanks to the anorexic. But you've written it so that the waitress dodged, thanks to the anorexic. You see the difference? An aside, but consider letting your waitress get hit. How many times do we threaten our characters with getting rained on or slipping or whatever. Whenever you find yourself almost letting a character suffer more, look to see if it wouldn't be better to let them have it. There's some quote from a famous writer about chasing your character up into a tree, then throwing rocks at them. Would it be a better lob if you let your waitress get hit with a fork? If your waitress had four tine marks in her cheek the rest of the night, they would be "thanks" to the anorexic.

    I lied. One more bit about this awkward stuff. Whenever you find yourself piling up prepositions, it's a signal that the words are fighting each other. You use a LOT of prepositions when clarity and precision with the primary words would due.

    Hope something here helps.
    Last edited by C K; 05-13-2011 at 01:57 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks a TON, CK!
    I'll start off by being happy you felt it a step in the right direction and that I was able to take what everyone said and utilize it. That said, just your restructuring and redoing of the first paragraph made it really clear to me on how to build momentum and really SHOW instead of tell. A marked difference and seeing the contrast really hit it home. It also, like you said, de-cluttered my Q and should give me more room to add things that carry through on the 'promise' of humor, insight, etc.

    I'll work on being precise and maybe throw my characters under the bus while I'm at it. I really appreciate you taking the time to be so thorough and will put your words to good use.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Avonne Writer's Avatar
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    Caitlin - 55k seems a tad short. Have you checked genre word count resources? I know there's a forum around here with some info in it. Agents will reject for many things, wrong word count is one of them (so I've heard).

    Best of luck

  5. #5
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    JUST MY OPINION, FEEL FREE TO IGNORE:

    I haven't read the other responses, so if I'm repeating anything, sorry.

    Friday night at The Cheesecake Factory and the place is a madhouse. Not only in the sense that itís particularly busy, but full-on insanity.

    It is never a good idea to explain a joke. If you don't have faith that the opening line is good enough, kill it. But don't explain it.

    Take a look at the first and second sentences. In the first, you set down the premise. Madhouse. In the second, you explain it as though the reader isn't going to get it unless you break it down. Madhouse. You know. It's crowded and insane. Get it now?

    Cut the second sentence.

    Itís early, but already the waitress has dodged a flying fork thanks to a feisty anorexic on a group outing with her psychiatrists and fellow members of the nearby Residence.

    Read this sentence. By saying "thanks" the sentence is tweaked to imply that the feisty anorexic somehow helped the waitress dodge the fork. I don't think that's your intention, is it? So, the sentence would have to say, "dodged a flying fork thrown by a feisty anorexic" to make it clear that the anorexic is throwing the fork, not saving the waitress.

    Truthfully, every sentence needs work. You are trying to be cute, funny, glib, I'm not sure what. But for me, the whole thing reads awkwardly, and I would wonder if your book is written the same way.

    Not everyone may be certifiably on the other side of sanity but they do fall quite close.

    Can you see the clumsiness of that sentence? And what is its value in terms of making the agent want to read the book? Isn't that the whole point to writing a Q letter?

    TABLE TALK is often times humorous, many times a poignant reflection of human nature, and insightful as to how perfect strangers may deeply effect our lives.

    It is? I don't think an agent is going to believe any of that, based on what you have posted here. Also, it is not the kind of summary you put in a query letter. You don't tell the agent what to think. You don't evaluate.

    I know this sounds harsh, but you've got to quit trying to be clever and pitch the book. What is your book about? I still don't know.

  6. #6
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    Thanks Avonne for the suggestion. While I've read that the general minimum word count for a novel is 50k, I certainly see your point that there is room to add!

    Leslee, as always please worry about ever feeling 'too harsh.' It would take a whole heck of a lot either offend me or send me crying to my bed...haha. I appreciate you taking the time to dissect another Q and your points are all valid. The last thing I want to do is to write a Q that would be sent directly to the trash by an editor and I'm inexperienced, so that's why I'm grateful to have other people who are much more schooled to give their input. I need to cut to the chase and get to what the book is about. I'll be working on that...thanks again!

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