“He was visiting the farming division of WSU. He’s funding some research,” I mutter.
“Oh yes. He’s given the department a $2.5 million grant.”
“How do you know this?”
“Ana, I’m a journalist, and I’ve written a profile on the guy. It’s my job to know this.”
“Okay, Carla Bernstein, keep your hair on.”
*facepalm* This dialogue is going to be the end of me, isn’t it.
So, yes, this chapter opens with Kate being ecstatic that Ana is scoring her some photos of the ever elusive Christian Grey, but where ever shall they find a photographer! In an act of monumental stupidity, it actually takes a minute for Kate to suggest Jose, because heaven forbid Ana’s dear old friend, a photographer, shouldn’t instantly come to mind the moment she hears mention of that profession. Anyways, despite he being a photographer of landscapes, not people, Kate blackmails him into doing the shoot and Ana gets all flustered calling Grey to set up the appointment, made all the more flustery by Kate picking up on feelings and poking her friend with them.
This chapter was like trying to drive a race over speedbumps as I finally see a lot of the problems people are having with “James”‘s writing. The above snippet of dialogue is representative of many of the exchanges here, but there’s other aspects that betray a severe lack of editorial guidance.
Scene structure: Ana talks to Kate. Kate suggests calling Jose. Ana turns down Paul when he asks her on a date. Ana calls Jose. Ana talks to Kate.
When a scene takes a turn, typically, one should follow that turn, so why is a bit with Paul, which tells us no more about him and his relationship with Ana than everything that’s already been established so far, dropped between the idea of calling Jose and the actual calling of Jose? For that matter, why have the first part of the conversation with Kate be over the phone and the second done in person. Just make it a single scene. Don’t break it up, preserve the flow, snip out the jarring interlude of “oh, yeah, that Paul guy, whatever”. This could have used an editor.
Cultural Misterminologism: Yes, I made up a word.
She blinks at me with surprise – I very rarely throw my toys out of the pram…
“James” is a British author, so her use of the term pram makes perfect sense. Except this narration is supposed to be in the voice of an American born and raised in the United States. Granted, “I very rarely throw my toys out of the stroller” or “carriage” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but still. This could have used an editor.
Crap: This chapter is full of crap. Seriously, not once, not twice, but six times the lead character exclaims either “Crap!” or “Holy crap!” Mostly in her head, of course, but I guess it would be asking too much to replace one or two of those with a simple “wow” or “oh my god” or “zoiks”. This could have used an editor.
Getting back to the story, everyone shows up for the photoshoot. Ana thinks “holy crap” when she sees Christian all decked out in… a white shirt and grey pants. Crap exclamation worthy, indeed. The photoshoot goes well with Kate and Jose all over things, and Jose’s assistant Trevor being all bungly. It ends with Christian giving Ana a “walk with me” as he leaves the room. Bring on more poor scenic flow as we spend two pages with everyone coordinating who’s leaving with what vehicle, ending with Christian taking Ana out for some coffee.
Here’s another editorial oversight: remember the last chapter, where we learned about Ana’s stepdad and mother and husband-number-three? Welcome to redundancy as we hear about them all over again during the conversation between Christian and Ana. In fan fiction, where someone is posting a story one chapter at a time as it’s being written, stuff like this is common place and easy to shrug off, but when going over the completed manuscript for publication as a novel, someone should have seen a sizeable chunk of infodump being repeated over the course of just two chapters. And then trim it from that second chapter, because it’s more relevant here.
Anyways, I really enjoyed the interview from the first chapter, with its focus on the oddball Christian and uncomfortable Ana, for having a lot of clever tension and interplay, but the conversation here is a slog. Not just because of redundant exposition, but there’s no more tension between these two. Christian is much more at ease, no longer carrying the voice and attitude of a certain sultan’s sorcerer, and Ana has completely lost all concerns she had about this dude as she’s head over heals in a puppy dog holy crap crush on him. As they talk about their families – he has a brother and sister who sound an awful lot like Emmett and Alice – all she thinks about is how pretty and dashing he is, and is entranced watching him peel a muffin.
And she drinks tea, not coffee by the way. English tea, bag out. And reads British literature. And desperately wants to visit England. And her laid-back American sports fan dad loves European Soccer and…
Holy crap! “James” is turning her homeland into a Mary Sue!
And then we get some more excellent dialogue with:
“I hear Paris is lovely.”
“It’s beautiful. Have you been?”
Dude, if she’d ever been to Paris, she wouldn’t say she heard it was lovely!
In their conversation, we also learn Christian doesn’t like it when people who aren’t close family or friends call him Christian. Since I have no interest in being friends with this man, I shall henceforth call him Mr. Grey. As opposed to Mr. Buzz-Cut, his assistant. Which is what Ana seriously refers to him as throughout. Mr. Buzz-Cut. Yes.
After their conversation, as they’re getting up to go, Mr. Grey suddenly asks if Ana always wears jeans. I don’t want to know what creepy reveal this is setting up, though I have a vague suspicion it’s his way of asking if she believes in Nair for short shorts. Classy.
You remember that scene in Twilight where Tyler almost pancakes Bella with his van, but Edward swoops in and save her? We have that scene! Ana trips into the road and is pulled back by Mr. Grey before she’s hit by a cyclist!
[pauses to let that soak in]
She didn’t almost get hit by a car or a truck or a van or a bus or a horse and carriage. No, she was almost hit by someone riding a bicycle. Which would hurt, no doubt, but great job setting the potential stakes of her accident, “James”. Very dramatic.
And as he yanks her up from the ground with a “Shit, Ana!”, Mr. Grey pulls her close and she looks up, desperately wanting to kiss him.
Crap, I’ve got to read the next chapter, don’t I. Ceilidh, I blame you for enabling me! And I haven’t even gotten to the juicy stuff yet! Holy crap!