Friday, March 5, 2010

Looks Good on Paper

Have you ever had one of those weeks that look good on paper, but emotionally it just doesn't add up? On paper I had an excellent week. My house stayed picked up and clean with minimal action on my part. So my hubby and I get the great parenting award for the week right? Clean house, no messes, not really any major fights between the kids, a good hour or two each day writing...So why am I so cranky?

I worked my way through chapter 8 yesterday, but I think I need to move it. I'm just not sure where to. I also posted my first 13 lines of the book on the Hatrack forums and received some good feedback. It was nice to hear that some people felt the hook and would read on, but it was also disheartening that everyone misread the setting. I think the mistake I made was this: I tried to add the clues that the MC was a woman and so cut out some of the descriptions of the setting to fit it in the first 13 lines.

Why so much bother and worry over those first 13 lines? Because that will either hook you and keep you reading or start you thinking about moving on to another book. Last week I had a poll asking you how you chose to read a book, or keep reading a book. Blogger is stupid in that I could no longer see the results after the poll closed, but around 12 people answered the question with a fairly even split between (a)reading the back or inside cover and (b)I stop reading after a few pages or the 1st chapter if not hooked. (comments gave a book 30 to 50 pages depending on the reader.)

That is why I am stressing over this first 13 lines and my first scene. The reader needs to be hooked and at least curious enough to keep reading. I know that my first 3 or 4 chapters are character set up, introduction to my world, laying out the conflict and getting everyone to the same place so the action can start. There are things happening that hopefully build the tension so that no one gets bored (I've also deleted a couple thousand words of back story this week!) These chapters are necessary for the story to make sense and to help the reader connect to Talia emotionally. The good news is that they are all short chapters, so the action can start.

Alright, so if I've been making progress and actually using my brain this week, why am I cranky? Is it impatience with myself and this process? Every time I think I am ready to query I realize I'm not there yet. I'm prepared for lots of rejections, but I want to make sure I've done everything I can first. I don't know if that will make it easier or harder to deal with, but I have just enough perfectionist in me to know that if I send the first three chapters with a query and then find errors I will be mortified.

Here is the problem, as a writer you can always find things to improve in your writing. How do you decide enough is enough and send your baby out into the world to be dismissed, ignored or trampled on in the hopes that someone will recognize the love you put into creating it?

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