lilacs in bucket

lilacs in bucket

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Feedback

Sunday morning's come around again and here I am, crouched in front of my computer screen, eeking out words to speak to you.

We're writers, and as members of that fragile but strong as a strand of hair, we support one another in any way we can. Some time ago, I mentioned I'd given my women's fiction manuscript to a trusted friend for review and feedback. Doing that was an unusual (and brave) step for me. I don't put myself out there very often, not out of arrogance, but more out of fear.

What if it's too terrible to talk about? What if she rolled her eyes on every page? What if I've fallen into the traps that I so often tell other writers not to slip into - cliches, trite language, telling instead of showing? What if I'm simply not good enough to call myself a writer? Being naked and vulnerable is not something I do well. Being a Cancer, I tend to cover the mush up with armor and carry on as if the world weren't crumbling around me, all the while the mush is sloshing around inside. It was a hard three or four weeks waiting for word.

My friend came back to me with her comments. She also asked her editor to review the first five pages. Both of them said the same thing, independent of each other - needs a hook. There must be a reason for the reader to read on. The editor said she suspected something juicier was coming later on but as yet, she wasn't sure what it would be.

The hook, the compelling reason for the story. What will bring the reader into your world. I thought about it as I vacuumed, I pondered in the shower, driving to work, rehearsing words and thoughts over and over again until it might magically appear. I took my first character, Julie, down to the studs, made her talk to me. It's not there yet but I'm working on it.

Feedback is essential for a writer. The feedback I received from my friend and her editor was mindful that there is a person behind the words on the page. They're both pretty no nonsense but not without heart, and that was helpful for me.

How do you hook your reader? Do you ask a question? Do you make a compelling statement? What are your thoughts on the hook?




Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Best Part of the Day

Another lovely spring morning arrives in the Ozarks. It's Sunday and the house is quiet, except for the clickety-clack of Ella's nails as she trots across the wood floors. No tv, no radio, not even the sound of a toilet flushing.

This is the best part of Sunday morning for me. Earlier, I took Ella out to do her duty, and I sipped hot coffee as I watched the sun peak through the slates in the wood fence, creeping across the grass in silvery ribbons. The burgeoning scent of honey suckle hung heavy on the air.

A new day, a new promise, new writing possibilities. I'm excited and frightened at the same time to be receiving notes from my beta reader, the only other women's fiction author in my romance writing group. Having looked forward to this for a while now, biting my nails and making up all kinds of possibilities of what she might say (good and bad), I'll be relieved when the word comes.

This manuscript is still the book of my heart, after all the years I've spent formulating it. It's the work I want to see my name on, lying on the New Releases table at Barnes & Noble. I feel strong about it and I hope my beta reader does too.

What are your plans for today?

What's the favorite part of the day for you?