Can you explain your love / hate relationship to Frances Ha?
I love it as a whole, this gorgeously captured honest interpretation of friendship and life as a 20 something in New York CIty.
I think I hate it because I honestly feel exposed as an awkward self centered friend, one that doesn’t handle bad times well, as Frances is the epitome of it.
I, about 9 months ago, was deeply in love with a friend. Much like Frances and Sophie are/were in the beginning of the movie. Their friendship becomes strained when Frances’s love for Sophie gets challenged by her jealousy of Patch, and Sophie’s evolution into a women more dependent on an adult stable life.
Frances bounces to a new friend group, her dreams of becoming a successful dancer are trumped and she’s living with two men who are boys, one harboring a crush for her who she deems as just a friend, and another who is a revolving door of casual sexual encounters, who she becomes slightly impatient living with because they have money coming from other sources, while she struggles.
The symbolism is beautiful, her arrival and departure from Sacramento with her family. The actual holiday that she is having, and the mental holiday she has until that moment in the bathtub when her mother prompts:
“Frances, how much longer?”
Her return shows her returning to new York trying to again transfer her love and goofiness onto another person. Again at the dinner party she passively aggressively bashes and praises Sophie, and her similarities to her. While in fact she feels more separated from her than ever.
“I think I’m better looking then when I am in pictures.” A guy prompts our understanding that the party has turned in to one we’ve all had were we share our own insecurities and yet keep bragging all at once. So Frances comes out with this brilliant drunken confession summarizing how romantic she is, how hopeful and bruised all at the same time.
“I want this one moment. It’s what I want in a relationship, which may explain why I’m single now, Ha, Ha. It’s kind of hard to… uh It’s that thing when you’re with someone, and you love them and they know it, and they love you and you know it… but it’s a party… and you’re both talking to other people, and you’re laughing and shining… and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes… but - but not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual… but because… that is your person in this life. And it’s funny and sad, but only because this life will end, and it’s this secret world that exists right there in public, unnoticed, that no one else knows about. It’s sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us, but we don’t have the ability to perceive them. That’s - That’s what I want out of a relationship. Or just life, I guess.”
Then just up and leaves. Runs into a overly dull vapid hip “pretty” girl and Benjamin, brags about a trip to Paris, and reading Proust.
Flawed, and raw and awkward. You cringe for her, always running, falling. With crazy hair, and slightly masculine clothing. Going alone to Paris, and freaking out about it, because it’s reality and not romantic like she projected it to be, it’s lonely and awkward. Then Sophie contacts her in a sad misalignment in timing. Apologies and communication, but not full truths as both of them make sad smiles and fidget.
The awkward view of her seemingly perfect best friend’s relationship and life that she witnesses. Flaws again. But her compassion to a drunken angry friend. Late night confessing that relive the best times of their friendship. Their worst times. A future that we all know isn’t going to happen.
A written apology. A dramatic and embarrassing chase scene. A return to the city, a revival in a happy and successful, and confident Frances. It all picks up so beautifully for her. Almost the entire movie represented in her chorepgraphy and the final performance where everyone comes together to see the success of Frances.
“Who are you making eyes at?”
“That’s Sophie, my best friend.”
Sorry, I am breaking down each painful and beautiful moment. Most if not all of my college career I spent it analyzing movies, breaking them all down to the small moments. So, when I watched Frances Ha, sitting with 4 other people, one of whom I just had starting working with in a new city, in a new job, in a lofted out warehouse in Fishtown, lonely but not. Comforted but not. Things so raw and familiar matched with a new experience myself.
I love it all. The depressing feeling it brings to me, and the wounds it opens about myself. But I hate it all at the same time forcing me to see traits I have reflected in someone else. But, maybe that’s just a personal reflection of the first time I watched it. I watched it just this morning again before responding to you and see much more of the growth and determination of Frances. The beautiful ending where she learns to take a moment and breathe, to appreciate the small doorframe and the ever charming way we learn the source of our movie title.
Anyway, that’s pretty much a perfect movie. It makes me feel, real feelings, ones that catch and hold onto you. Not just while your watching it. Like how we used to cram information into our heads before an exam and toss it out of our heads. I still can’t remember certain biology facts. But, I remember how subtly Frances became all herself.
~A/N: Here you go. Dedicated to kathleenknutsen for the comments.I loved them. I hope you like this as well. This is my first official request so please don’t kill me if you hate it (. ︵ .)
“Just give me the whole bottle, then” you snap at the bartender. He gives you a dirty look and slams another shot in front of you. You were down the second bottle for the night. You gulp it down and sigh, resting your forehead in your hands.
The nerve of your boss! Just because you had boobs didn’t automatically mean he should own them. And they certainly shouldn’t be the reason for your raise. The bastard had been sly at first, acting like he truly believed you had the skill. Dude, it’s just a part-time job, calm down.
The only problem is that you can’t quit. You have no other way to support yourself. You can’t get a real job because you have classes in the morning. Speaking of which, it’s already considered morning, so you decide you’d skip today.
And your boyfriend? Such a prick. Why have you even agreed to go out with that fool? Never at home, always making you feel down, forever making himself the victim so you feel guilty.
“Can I buy you a drink, miss?”
You don’t even bother to lift your head. “Fuck off.” You hear the sleaze mutter some insult before he leaves.
“Another,” you sigh.
The bartender mutters something about how young girls make themselves deliberately vulnerable to men but you zone out. The alcohol has finally started to kick in and the corners of your vision start getting blurry.
You aren’t an irresponsible drunk. You’re well aware when you reach your limit and when you’re in no condition to drive. So even when you’re wasted, you’re not the type to suddenly go crazy and start dancing on tables.
However, you always and forever will take joy in the numb sensation in your body.
You reach for a bottle of wine that the bartender places in front of you and you accidently spill your glass, soaking yourself. You sigh and get up to search for a bathroom.
“Make sure no one puts something in that,” you warn the man. He nods but rolls his eyes and goes back to watching a stupid game on a little portable TV.
Stupid, stupid men.
In the dirty little cubicle you strip from your seller’s work t-shirt and rummage in your bag for a change of clothes. You only find your sister’s BVB T-shirt from a concert that she did not invite you to. Bitch.
You go and wash your face of any remains of makeup and stare lamely at your reflection.
You look like a crazed fangirl. Eyes wide but foggy, pale and skinny, and a crumpled In The End We’re Just Fallen Angels t-shirt. No, more like a drug addict. You look like a drug addict. This pixie haircut is so not working out. You sigh and forgo concealing the dark circles under your eyes. Your hand’s too shaky. You pull out your phone and schedule a cab to come pick you up in 20 minutes.
Going back to your seat, you notice that the bottle seems to be in the same place but just to be safe, you order another one.
What am I doing? I don’t even like white wine. Give me back my vodka, you prick!
But you can’t be bothered to open your mouth.
You notice a stool being puled back and a black leather jacket catches your eye. You look at it for a while deciding that you have to get one of those for yourself because that just looks badass.
What you don’t do is look at the man’s face. You don’t want to be that girl. He’s obviously here to get a drink and not hold an autographing session.
You force yourself to look away and concentrate on your drink. Not that it’s helping you.
What’s he doing here? Oh god if I don’t talk to him sis is gonna kill me. Well, so what?
You sneak a quick peek at the man sitting two chairs down from you. Huh, he looks kinda dead. Them cheekbones though. I bet he’s had a band fight or something and he’s being a diva right now.
He glances up and catches your eye. He looks down at your shirt and you can swear he gives a little sigh. He looks back at you with one eyebrow raised.
And you do the most normal thing a girl can do.
You glare at him.
You narrow your eyes too, just for good measure, and you go back to your drink, ignoring him completely.
You hear a soft muffle and when you look back up, he’s grinning sadly in his glass.
Well, fuck you too.
Seriously, what did he expect? For you to jump up and start screeching fangirl bullshit “Oh my GAWD, this is the best day of my ENTIRE life I can’t believe I met you let’s get married and I want three kids!”
No. You weren’t going to give him the pleasure.
Like, what do a famous people expect from fans? Attention and love and their asses kissed, right? And since you were definitely wearing the right shirt, a mean look wasn’t exactly common.
“Excuse me, oh my gosh! Are you who I think you are?”
You look up to see a very white blonde girl with the possible IQ of 90 standing right behind him. He looks straight forward and he seems to be struggling to plaster a fake smile on his face.
And the funniest part is that the girl appears to be completely oblivious to his discomfort.
“Can I, like, buy you a drink or something?” she squeals.
You laugh quietly at yourself, for the first time glad that you weren’t some rockstar, and you continue to watch the scene next to you.
But then she does the worst thing possible. She sits down next to him and touches his arm. When he visibly flinches, you start picking at a hangnail.
I should probably rescue him from this less intelligent life form.
He’s looking at you. Frowning, more like. You raise your eyebrows and he mouths something.
You shrug and turn away. How the hell am I supposed to do that? Just grab the bitch by her bleached hair and throw her out?I can barely keep my eyes open, for crying out loud!
“So, anyway. I hear that you and Jules had a fight, you know, twitter? I just can’t believe she’d break up with someone like you!”
Ha, he got dumped by his beloved Juliet.
“She didn’t break up with me,” he says quietly but he’s ignored.
“…And like, all you need to know that I’m like right here for you, hun. I’m Tiffany, by the way.”
That is such a white girl name.
”I’ve been to like all your concerts and your signings! Do you remember me? You should. You guys even took one of my bras!”
Oh my God she’s making my head hurt. Someone please drown her in all this booze and burst one of her fake titts. Seriously, where’s his girlfriend when he needs her?
Suddenly, you get an idea. Like, an incredible idea that is sure to work. You have no idea why the hell you’re even considering such a thing, but it could be the alcohol. You clumsily rush back to the bathroom and pull out your phone.
Come on, crappy 3G. Work with me!
You find a picture that you can more or less use and you pull out all your makeup from your bag. You have more or less the same cheekbones, and the blonde pixie haircut certainly helps. You look carefully at her outlined-in-pink eyes and try to copy the style. Red lips would be a nice touch, but you only have darker pink gloss. This should do. You outline your nose and soften your jaw.
You know she has tattoos on her arms so you take out your denim jacket to cover your bare skin, and using water-resistant eyeliner, you try to copy the White Rabbit tattoo on your right hand. It looks like shit, but this will have to do.
This whole process takes you only seven minutes. How the fuck?
Anyway. You rush out and take a deep breath. Fuck, this is so not gonna work, stop it right now and go home before you get hurt!
But then again I shouldn’t listen to myself when I’m wasted, so let’s do this!
You march up to the bottle blonde chick with fake determination and you tap her gently on the shoulder.
Oop, she looks more plastered than me. This should be fine.
“Excuse me,” you say sweetly.
She turns around and eyes you somewhat bemused.
He also eyes you up and raises an eyebrow. Ugh! Fuck, I’ll show you.
“Get your hands off him, you hoe.”
She blinks in realization. “Ooh. It’s you.”
He bites his lip to stop himself from laughing.
The Legally Blonde continues. “Well, like, you totally had your chance and stuff and now you come running back? I think it’s kinda too late sweetie, and let me tell you one more thing; you are absolutely—”
But she never gets to finish her slurred speech because all of a sudden he stands up. You push past the Blonde and poke him hard in the chest. He gasps, surprised, and takes a step back.
“How fucking dare you walk away from me?” you hiss.
He holds his hands in the air, all defensive.
“Sorry, but you never gave me a chance to—”
“Save it! Seriously, you have no idea how long it took me to find you. And since when do you drink?”
“Since I have nothing else better to do.” He takes a step forward and reaches for your face. You slap him away because even though this is an act, you don’t want him to do something that he might regret.
“Don’t you fucking even think about it! I am still so pissed at you.”
“Then leave,” the Blonde snaps, trying to butt right back in. “Like, seriously? No one wants you here.”
“Piss off, bitch.” You take one step towards her, trying to get all up in her face, but she scowls at you.
“Did you get a nose job?” she asks you. Your eyes widen.
Agh, fuck. Busted.
But you don’t get a chance to make up some lame excuse because he grabs your hand and pulls you towards the exit with a snappy remark on how “we’re not finished, follow me.”
Outside you breathe out in relief and pull the thin jacket closer to your body. You cross your arms and frown at the amused man in front of you.
“Thanks, I guess.”
I guess? You guess? What the fuck, man!
“Ooh, sorry to pull you away from all the attention. Go right back in, don’t mind me.”
“No, no. Thank you, really.”
“I didn’t need your help.”
“Are you always this impolite?”
“Only when I meet people with their head up their own ass.”
He looks down at my shirt and raises an eyebrow. Again.
“It’s my sister’s.”
He does the most unexpected thing.
“Alright. Astonishing, but it makes sense now.”
You don’t know why this makes you go all defensive. “That doesn’t mean I’m not a fan.”
“Oh? Then why are you acting like such a bitch?”
You give a little gasp.
“And I’m the impolite one?”
“Yes. I have my head up my ass, remember?”
“Jeez, sorry Biersack. You want me to jump in your lap and ask you to marry me like that thing?” you motion towards the door.
“I expected it.”
“See? Head up ass.”
Just then the taxi pulls up in front of the pub. You look at it and then back at the man in front of you.
“Take it and go home,” you tell him.
He looks at it, perplexed.
“What? No, I’m not gonna—”
“Now, dammit, before I change my mind.”
“I want you to change your mind,” he snaps.
“Seriously, dude. Go figure things out with your girlfriend.”
“There’s nothing to figure out.”
“Sure there is. There always is. Do it or I’ll kick your ass.”
“A puny little troll like you? What would you know?”
“You’d be surprised. Don’t push it.”
“Now, before it’s too late.”
He grumbles and unwillingly climbs in the back seat.
“I can’t believe I’m listening to a complete stranger.”
“I just saved your life in there. I think I know better than you.”
“I told you, I had it all under –”
You slam the door shut and step back. He rolls down the car window and thrusts you a white card.
“Take it and give me a call if you need anything.”
You take it and glare at it.
“What would I possibly want from you?”
“Discounts, concert tickets, to save my ass from raging fans.”
“So you admit it.”
“I never admitted anything.”
He grins and goes to roll the window back up as the taxi starts moving.
“You never told me your name!” he calls after you.
The car is too far away, but he has his head stuck out the window.
However, you just smile at him as he speeds up into the night.
There are lots of great blogs that break down how to write an effective query letter but I will give this my best shot and I’ll share my query letter, with commentary, so you can see what worked for me. Maybe it will prove useful to you.
My main advice is be as concise as possible. Economy of language is important and this is coming from someone whose query letter was probably a little too long. Agents are very, very busy people. If you can’t get to the heart of your novel in a couple of paragraphs, a request might feel like a risk to them—so they might not.
Avoid gimmicks (ie writing your query as your character). I know there are exceptions to this rule—that gimmicky queries have led to requests that have led to representation—but I’ve seen so many agents declare themselves not into gimmicks, why reduce chances of them requesting your work? A direct query letter doesn’t have to be at the expense of voice.
Research agents. Make sure you write what they want to represent. Don’t just fire out as many letters to as many agents as you can and hope for the best. You might get bites, sure, but a more targeted approach will be to your benefit and you won’t be wasting anyone’s time, including your own.
Be professional. A query is a business correspondence. It’s not a letter to your mom or your BFF or the person you hope will take you to the prom. Don’t act overly familiar. It’s okay to state why you think the agent you are querying might be a fit for your novel (that shows you’ve done your research!), but, “I saw on Twitter your mother/father/child/partner/dog wasn’t feeling well! I hope they’re okay,” while I’m sure is well intentioned, is just… you don’t need to do that, so don’t.
Don’t be self-deprecating. ANYWHERE IN YOUR QUERY. “I wrote this little novel!” Or whatever. If you didn’t think your work was worth querying, you wouldn’t. Leave your insecurities out of it.
You do not need to include your life story or writing credits etc in your query unless they are super notable or relevant to the work you are querying (think non-fiction). You can, of course, but don’t panic if you don’t have any writing credits. It’s not going to make or break a request.
Here is the query letter I sent my agent, with a breakdown of how and why I approached it the way I did and things I might do differently now:
Dear Amy Tipton,
I shouldn’t have to put this here but you would be surprised by how many people DEAR AGENT their letters. That is gross. Don’t do it. You are looking for an advocate for your work, someone you can form a business partnership with. Be respectful and polite. The very least you can do is personalize. I always went for the full name approach.
I read in your agent profile that you’re interested in young adult fiction and am querying you regarding my novel, Cracked Up to Be, an edgy, upper YA, complete at about 59,000 words.
This line shows that I researched my agent before querying. Because I have been asked before, an “upper YA” was to indicate the book was written for the upper end of the YA spectrum (older readers). I am not sure where I picked this term up or if it made sense to every agent I queried. I’d leave it at ‘edgy YA’ today.
After a disastrous party at the end of junior year, Perfect Parker Fadley decides the popular scene is stupid at best, boring at worst and senior year is an ideal time to call it quits. Never one to give less than 100% of herself in any situation, Parker goes from ‘the girl who has everything’ to ‘that chick with nothing’ in spectacular fashion—and life couldn’t be better.
But try explaining that to everyone else. When will people finally get it that yes, Parker meant to quit the cheerleading squad and relinquish captaining duties to her considerably less talented rival, Becky Halprin? And of course she wanted to end her relationship with Chris Ellory, the hottest guy in school. Falling so far behind in her homework that not graduating has since become a very real possibility? Well… everything except the Possibly Not Graduating part was totally on purpose. When her wilder antics are misinterpreted as a cry for help, Parker finds herself under the constant supervision of her parents, teachers and peers. Forced to toe the line between the life she knew and the life she wants, Parker must convince them she’s back on track without jeopardizing everything she’s worked so hard to give up. It takes a little ingenuity, but it’s nothing she can’t handle.
Like I mentioned above, my query got a little long. (And it’s not even over yet!) I’d try to find a way to condense the above paragraph for sure because I know it can be said with less words. But I think as far as voice goes, it’s a little grabby—it at least grabbed some agents—and as far as the pitch it can be broken down like this: Introduction to characters, the basic conflict and…
…That is until Jake Gardner, Mr. Painfully Sincere of Senior Year, takes a disconcerting interest in Parker and her past. It’s not that his intentions aren’t good—they could’ve made a great couple in another lifetime—but his innocent questions (like who in their right mind gives up the perks of being popular?) threaten to reveal a secret Parker doesn’t want anyone to find out. Like what really happened at that party last year vs. what everyone thinks happened—and how her new approach to life isn’t so much a choice as it is a punishment.
To keep the truth from surfacing, Parker has to scramble to maintain her carefully orchestrated downfall while doing her best to avoid a real one.
Closed it with what’s at stake, in a way that I hoped would entice an agent to want to read some or all of the novel.
My name is Courtney Summers and [bio stuff]. While [CRACKED UP TO BE] has not been sent to any houses, I am currently querying other agents at this time. A full manuscript is available upon request.
Every piece of advice I read at the time (2007) indicated that you should let an agent know if you were simultaneously querying other agents. Nowadays (/old), I’ve heard most agents pretty much expect that you will be. I could have left out the bit about the houses, regardless.