I just got back from a fabulous weekend in Ashton, Idaho, squashed in a cozy cabin with 15 or so other writers and the bodaciously awesome Emma Dryden, an editor from New York. It was so much fun getting to know new writers, hearing their works and getting awesome feedback not only on my own material, but hearing suggestions on other people's work that I can apply to mine.
We were split into groups of four and I have to say, we had the coolest group. Go Wildcats! ;)
Emma read our first pages and gave critique, and everyone laughed at the title of my ms: Where Are Boys From, Uranus? After reading a segment to Emma and a few other writers, Emma had only one suggestion on my opening pages--I repeated the word "start". Then she was like, "I have nothing else to say, this is really appealing, and I want to know what happens." (Or at least something very similar). Eee! Hooray. So now thanks to the Wildcats and Emma's suggestions, I know exactly what to do with my ms and will hopefully have it ready really soon!
Top Tips From the Weekend:
-Emma suggested to create a questionnaire for your characters (especially MC). Their likes, dislikes. Their favorite things. Where they go when they're alone, their biggest secret, their definition of home, etc. Things that don't necessarily need to go into your novel, but will help make your characters more real.
-Agents will wait for you, so if you get an agent request, you can take a few days (or a few weeks) to make sure you don't rush and blow your chances by having something not as ready as it could/should be.
-Concise writing is better than wordy and flowery. Emma said she likes clean, tight writing where one word can say what two or three could, or one tight scene does what two weaker scenes would.
-Sighs are a weak action, and having your character freeze is cliche.
-Emma frequently referred us to Harold Underdown's website as a reference resource. I haven't checked it out yet, but I will!
-In a query letter, adapt it to each agent you query, and any hints you can give (comp titles) of where your ms will be placed is beneficial. Also, Emma said to add the notion that you're looking for a partner for your writing career, that you have other works in progress.
Anyway, hooray, it was a fabulous weekend! Pictures to come (hopefully)!! :D
SCBWI Novel Retreat
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
I'm a mother, a Mormon and a musician, and I squee over all things pink and sparkly. I write books about doors that shouldn't be opened and enchanted tears that shouldn't be shed. I'm the proud wife of a farmer, and we live in a dinky Idaho farm town where the chances of getting stuck in tractor-induced traffic jams are highly likely. I believe anything can be made better with a good attitude and maybe a book packed away for those just-in-case times.