Critique Corner: I Want You To Want Me

Author:    Maggie L.

Genre:     Adult- Women’s Fiction

It’s the white police uniform shirt tied like a halter-top that first attracts him to her. With a black lacy bra underneath, skin-tight shorts with the famous Sillitoe Tartan up the side, and the police cap, it’s a rather attention-getting outfit. Add the very loosely knotted black tie, knee-high boots, mirrored sunglasses and high-visibility safety jacket with The Metropolitan Police patch on the back, she’s impossible not to notice. The fact she’s just sauntered onto the pub’s stage to a chorus of whoops, hollers and shrill whistles, makes her positively mesmerizing.

As he watches her, Simon Landry thinks he may have crossed over into some form of law enforcement heaven.

“I told you. I told you,” says the man standing next to him, grabbing him by the shoulders and giving him a vigorous shake.

Yes, Justin has told him all about the “dishy” singer he’s been chatting up. He met her at his favourite local, the Bristol Bobby, the pub where most of the city’s coppers larked about after work. He’s been promising Simon a visit so he can actually see her in the flesh.

Flesh indeed. He watches as a mass of inebriated, off-duty bobbies crowd around the raised stage, mad for her to notice them. The fact she can sing well appears to be lost on them.

She’s currently performing a rocking cover of Cheap Trick’s I Want You to Want Me, which every man in the place seems to be taking to heart. Her back-up band – comprised of a lead guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and drummer – are talented as well, especially at keeping the braver pub patrons off the stage and away from their singer.

Simon watches the bizarre spectacle. You have to be a pretty gifted musician to be able to keep playing while bouncing a drunk constable off the stage. And this is just the first song in the set!

5 thoughts on “Critique Corner: I Want You To Want Me

  1. Claire E A Boissiere (@EABoissiere) says:

    Hi Maggie. I was intrigued by the premise of this story, off duty police woman and the men they’d attract. This opening gives me the impression this is primarily a romance story, with maybe a crime element, but with such a short excerpt that could be an unfair judgement.
    I thought the opening paragraph was a bit heavy with description. I don’t usually read woman’s fiction and I find it off putting, but I loved this line: ‘The fact she’s just sauntered onto the pub’s stage to a chorus of whoops, hollers and shrill whistles, makes her positively mesmerizing.’ I’d be tempted to slim down some of the description in the previous sentences and let this one do the work of conveying the juxtaposition between her as a police woman and her as a sexy woman.
    I like the excitement of the man standing next to Simon and I wanted that to continue. He grabbed me as a character instantly; I feel it would work well if their conversation continued to include the sentiments from the following paragraph, in a bragging kind of way.
    I was confused by this, ‘mad for her to notice them.’ It didn’t seem to fit with the surrounding sentence. Apologies if I missed something obvious!
    I liked the imagery created by the description of her singing on stage and the ending, ‘and this is just the first song in the set!’ It’s a good set-up for implying there is more to come. Good job.

  2. Scarlett Kol says:

    Maggie,

    I really liked the voice and the set up. There is action and a focal point and I’m interested in how Simon is going to end up talking to a bombshell like her — because I’m assuming that’s where this going.

    I agree with the above poster about the description. I had to read some of the sentences twice to really follow the description and you overuse the word with. I think it would be more effective if you pared it down and stuck to a couple key knockout details. Maybe something that you wouldn’t expect in the description of a woman, or maybe how it makes him feel.

    Also, the description of her singing on stage seems a bit telling. Why does Simon think she’s talented? How does it make him feel? I’m not getting a feel for Simon in this paragraph.

    I do love the language though. You have a great use of words and slang that helps set the tone. It sounds like they are having a really great time. I’d keep reading 🙂

  3. swirlandspark says:

    I love this. The language is fantastic. It’s funny- As he watches her, Simon Landry thinks he may have crossed over into some form of law enforcement heaven. It has realistic dialogue- “I told you. I told you,” says the man standing next to him, grabbing him by the shoulders and giving him a vigorous shake. I can picture this gesture so clearly. The voice is great as well- He met her at his favourite local, the Bristol Bobby, the pub where most of the city’s coppers larked about after work. My only criticism would be to simplify the descriptions in the opening paragraph. They get in the way of the point. Some are good but I felt you included too many. “Add the very loosely knotted black tie…” sounds a bit awkward. If you can pare this section down, the opening would flow better. Overall this is a fantastic start. You’ve painted a vivid scene with realistic characters and a strong voice. Nicely done. I’d definitely read on!

  4. beth hautala says:

    Hey Maggie,
    A lot has already been said about paring down your descriptions and doing more showing vs telling. So I’ll not say any of that again. Two small things instead . . .
    • Simon is a fantastic observer. He notices details, which is probably a pretty useful tool in his line of work. But sometimes good observers run the risk of being passive on the page. Things end up just happening to them rather than the character happening to things. I know this is your opening 500 words and that doesn’t give you a lot of time to get Simon doing much, but, for example,consider having him respond to Justin’s enthusiasm externally. A nod, a half smile, etc. Even a refusal to respond is response . . . that kind of thing. Side note—I love how you give us a glimpse of SImon’s character. While he can appreciate what she has to offer physically, even at first glance she is more to him than just a set of boobs. “The fact she can sing well appears to be lost on them. . .” and in your close: “You have to be a pretty gifted musician to be able to keep playing while bouncing a drunk constable off the stage.” Nice.
    • Some of the other critiques mentioned word choice in your descriptions, but I wonder if that’s because this story is set elsewhere besides the States? I got a British vibe, but maybe I’m way off. Just curious . . .
    Great job! I’d definitely read more.

  5. Daniel B. says:

    Maggie,

    I really like the premise of this story, but I got a little lost in the first paragraph with the way it was written. Maybe it’s me, but I think you could rearrange the words and create a much better opening, something like: “The white police uniform shirt tied like a halter-top, grabbed his attention. The black lacy bra underneath with skin-tight shorts and the famous Sillitoe Tartan up the side commanded his utter allegiance.”

    You have a lot of detail here which is good but be careful about telling versus showing, it’s so easy to do (and I am guilty of it). Put the details in observations of Simon. That way the reader “sees” it from your main character and not from the narrator’s eyes.

    On a different note, I got to tell you that I love the “guy at his side” that is so true! Men really do shake their friends like that (it’s happened to me) and I could see the whole scene before my eyes.

    Your story has great potential and I’m very interested in seeing where it goes. So keep on it!

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