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First Page: Chasing Chynna – Contemporary

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Hollywood is my bitch. I like to spank her sparkly little ass and when I feel the love, I treat her like the lady she pretends to be. Of course, like any other film maker in this damned town, I’m the one who usually gets the whipping and sometimes takes it up the ass.

If you asked Chynna, she’d probably call Hollywood out as the cheapest whore on the lot. Chynna has a lot of pissed off to carry on those little shoulders of hers and she’s working it in a way I’ve never seen the girl do it before.
She’s hot when she’s angry.

Seriously, there’s a reason Chynna Chase is a star and it isn’t just talent. The girl has a look that’s killer sex, she rocks her dreds and tattoos in a way that doesn’t scare Middle America even when their sons are upstairs fisting it to her poster.

And that woman is my best friend.

Although how she’s feeling about men right now has me thinking I might have to cup the boys if I’m planning to keep them.

“I want to rip his balls off and mail them to Gossip Soup. Jesus. What makes them think I need to be in a sex tape? I’m not some rich girl with more silicone than brains. I have a freaking career and it’s a lot more than blow jobs on porn sites.”

“Don’t hold back, tell me how you really feel.”

She hits my feet which are resting comfortably on her coffee table. “Don’t be flip, Ted. It’s the worst thing that ever happened to me. I hate Adam, I just freaking hate him.”

“At least I’m not saying I told you so.”

It was the wrong thing to say, the way her shoulders slump and her lovely face slackens. I might change the opening to my next Chamber of Commerce speech to something like,[I] Hollywood is the land of dreams, a place where a Midwestern boy like me can have his own movie studio and insult the coolest actress on the planet.[/I]

“I’m an idiot.” I nudge Chynna’s leg with my foot. “You know I am. So no getting all weepy faced.”

“You couldn’t make a baby cry.”

That’s my girl.

Not my girl. She was Adam Mann’s girl until he decided fame had a sweeter pussy than Chynna. I can’t even wrap my head around how that scum ever thought it was okay to film his girl giving him a bj and then put it out there. If I had any kind of power in his world, I’d shut him down and drag him out.

But the asshole is a pretty boy with a guitar. And my influence in the music industry is nada. Hell, I have a fucking movie studio named after me, Ted Sargent Films, and I still have no influence.

Although I do get a fruit basket from Roger Corman every Christmas.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

8 Comments

  1. Kate Sherwood
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 07:41:18

    Obviously a lot of voice, and in general it’s a pretty compelling voice, although I think there are going to be people who really don’t like it. But assuming that your audience does like it…

    One challenge of writing a piece with strong voice is that it has to be perfect. One little glitch and the reader’s taken out of the scene, reminded that this is all a fiction and the voice becomes an affectation. For me, the narrative kept the voice reasonably consistently (although I wasn’t sure about “that woman is my best friend”), but I was dragged out by the dialogue. “Don’t be flip” and “Don’t get all weepy-faced” seem like things my grandma would say. These hard-ass characters really talk that way?

    Voice aside… the first paragraph starts with a bang, but then it gets internally contradictory… Hollywood is the narrator’s bitch, but really the narrator is Hollywood’s bitch, all within a few sentences. I didn’t like that.

    And the next few paragraphs are a bit confusing because they’re at different levels of immediacy. Sometimes you’re talking about Chyna in general, sometimes about Chyna right now, and you’re not really clear about the transitions.

    Also, there’s a lot of backstory right off the top.

    I’d be tempted to start with the “I want to rip his balls off” paragraph and work the rest of it in later.

    You’ve got a couple comma splices that are a bit annoying.

    And when I read the name Chyna I think of the wrestler/porn star, which may not be the association you’re looking for.

    Other than all that… I think I’d keep reading, at least for a while. This is different, and interesting, and if you can maintain the voice consistently I think it could be something fairly unique.

  2. wikkidsexycool
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 08:28:48

    He’s got no balls.

    That’s what jumped out at me about Ted. I mean, he’s got a studio named after him, and has probably been around some of the hottest men and women in a cut throat industry, yet at times the narrative jumps from cocky to cringing. Still, I do want to know more about him, not Chyna.

    I get that she’s probably his HEA, but right now his voice and predicament sound far stronger to me than hers. And maybe I’m thinking too much of the movie Boogie Nights, but someone who does this for a living (okaying the cast, getting investors to put up money, marketing, in short, transacting the business of a studio day to day) would appear to have a stronger personality than your current lead. I get that in Chyna’s presence he’s mush. But on this first page most of his thoughts devolve into wimpy-ness at some point.

    Perhaps Chyna can be introduced with more of a bang (pun intended) and not just a conversation/back story info dump along the lines of “Well, as you know Ted.”

    My new favorite show is HBO’s Hello Ladies. I root and laugh at Stuart’s attempt to play bad ass lover, but he fails time and again. Sure, the slap stick is overboard (how many times can Stuart fall on his face? enough already HBO) so I’d read on just to see if your lead grows a pair. But right now, he’s an angsty teen trapped in the body of businessman. His “voice” reads much younger to me. Aging him a few more years might help.

    “Hollywood is my bitch. I like to spank her sparkly little ass and when I feel the love, I treat her like the lady she pretends to be.”

    This set off the raging feminist in me. I almost didn’t read any further, but I did. However it’s still bothering me, and makes me want to punch your narrator. Maybe that’s a good thing and its what you wanted. At least it’s better than a reader saying they don’t feel anything for your character.

    Thank you for sharing this piece author. I wish you all the best with this.

  3. SAO
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 09:29:00

    Ditto Wikkid: Your opening lines set off the raging feminist in me and I almost didn’t read any further.

    I did get to the end of the page and Ted was still making analogies with derogatory terms referring to women (“fame had a sweeter . . .”). I find it offensive. If the blurb said Ted’s the villain and Chynna’s going to deliver his comeuppance, I read beyond one page of Ted’s blatant misogyny, if not, one page was way too much.

  4. Jamie Beck
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 10:01:06

    I have mixed reactions to reading this piece. The others have already noted some inconsistencies that you might want to seriously consider addressing. I think, like them, the voice is very distinct/interesting, but would be more compelling if the hero/narrator were stronger.

    He doesn’t have to be an alpha-man (I like beta guys), but he has to at least have a fierce need to protect/aid his friend. You allude to it a bit near the end of the excerpt, but even that comes across as impotent. If he were in his young twenties and “starting out”, maybe I could buy it, but to have his own studio, I’m thinking he has to be closer to 30 or older, in which case his accepting a “lack of power” just comes across as weak.

    I think I would be more likely to root for Ted to win her if, in this opening scene, he didn’t respond to her outrage with such light, cliched comebacks like “tell me how you really feel” and “I didn’t say I told you so”, etc. If he validated her feelings “Yeah, the guy’s a prick” and “don’t worry, we’ll figure out a way to take him down a peg” or whatever (obviously written better than that, but you get the gist), then I’d like him more.

    Also, toward the end, maybe he could acknowledge a current lack of power but with the vow to acquire it/find some way to avenge his friend/secret love interest. And in today’s world of technology, it doesn’t seem all that hard for any person to make another person’s life a living hell…so the lack of power thing doesn’t feel totally credible anyway.

    All this aside, you clearly have talent and can evoke emotion. Keep going, and good luck!

  5. Chris
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 12:26:51

    Jumping on the bandwagon with everyone else. I don’t like Ted at all. His crass misogyny isn’t charming, and while he is very voicey, which gives a good punch to your writing, well . . . being voicey doesn’t make up for being a shitty person. Sorry, author, but I wouldn’t read on. There’s a way to do a flip and clever alpha male narrator, and this isn’t it.

  6. Sunny
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 15:00:03

    SAO said it for me perfectly. The only reason I read past the first line was because I like to try and read all First Pages here, but if I’d read it anywhere else I would have been gone after the first line. If it’s a romance, I don’t want to be insulted every paragraph by the narrator, and I sure as heck don’t want to root for someone who comes off as such a terrible person. I wouldn’t be able to buy any redemption of Ted, either, because to get from that level of casual misogyny (with some homophobia and racism thrown in for spice, geez) to Decent Human Being takes YEARS of self-evaluation and work.

    I know posting is extremely difficult and thank you for doing so, and I do not think you are a bad person, but I really don’t like this and hope I’ve articulated why. If Ted got hit by a bus on the next page I might be more interested, but Chynna says some problematic things too.

    I also had trouble understanding why the greatest actress in the world didn’t have a dozen people blasting this guy with lawsuits for what he did.

  7. Viridian
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 17:23:47

    I enjoy stories with strong voice, and I don’t mind strong language. It wouldn’t stop be from continuing to read. I’m even willing to overlook the whole “Hollywood is my bitch” thing. However, this line (“She’s hot when she’s angry”) was so uncomfortable to read that I nearly stopped. I hate that cliche. There’s nothing more cold and disrespectful to another human being than telling them they’re attractive when they’re upset.

    While the voice is lively, you have to careful when you use so much slang. It’s easy to try to hard and end up with phrases that don’t make sense, or mean things you didn’t intend. For example: “she rocks her dreds and tattoos in a way that doesn’t scare Middle American even when their sons are upstairs fisting it to her poster”. Fisting it? Fisting is not slang for male masturbation; it’s slang for shoving your hand up inside… uh… well, just google it.

    Then there’s the language. I have a hard time believing that a tough Hollywood star who’s threatening to rip a man’s balls off is going to use the word “freaking” instead of “fucking”. And then phrases like “don’t be flip” and “weepy-faced”; she sounds like a fifteen year old. A very violent, profane fifteen year old, but still a fifteen year old.

    And this: “I might have to cup the boys if I’m planning on keeping them.” A cup? Like a cup that goes over the crotch to protect a guy’s manhood? Okay. But that would protect his balls from getting kicked or struck, which would not cause him to loose them. Alternatively, anything that would cause him to loose his balls — like her cutting them off, say — would not be prevented by a cup. So the whole “I better wear a cup if I want to keep my balls” thing doesn’t make sense.

    Why is she being so insulting to people who make sex tapes? “Some rich girl with more silicone than brains”? What a jerk.

    This seems like it has a really good idea behind it. Sweet, supportive, rich guy hopelessly chasing his tough-as-nails celebrity best friend. This could work for me. But the insulting, violent language your characters use makes them look like assholes.

    EDIT: excuse me. Your narrator said “weepy-faced”, not Chynna. Whoops. This makes it even more bizarre, though. This is a full-grown adult guy, influential, old enough to have a movie studio named after him.

  8. Carol McKenzie
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 17:54:51

    Bit were confusing, as mentioned with everyone else’s comments, most of which I agree with.

    I do like the strong voice though…I try to give all my characters really strong voice, and it is hard to maintain. And as said above, you do lose your grasp at some points.

    And SAO: I agree with those comments. There’s a line here that I think you crossed. There is a way to write Ted without making him a misogynist.

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