Monday, September 22, 2008

Tales from the Conference: My critique and Place your vote!

My SCBWI Carolina's conference experience started off with a 10 page critique with editor Martha Mahalick, editor at Greenwillow.

Martha gave me great insight and encouragement. On my current work in progress.

The encouragement: She said that what she read intrigued her and that she could tell that I had created a fully-realized world with interesting characters. My writing is smooth and dialogue flows naturally.
~squeal!~ That makes me happy.

But. . . . there's still work to be done.
1) my villian is too villiany, aka, too flat.
2) and she felt that some of the dialogue that included back story had too much info. There was a feeling that those sections of dialogue had a feeling of "too much info" for the readers benefit, instead of how people would really talk.

3) She thought I could give more thought to the Title. My original title was "The Search for the Charm Keepers" but she said that sounded more MG than YA. And though she wouldn't reject a piece based on a title, she said that there have been things that have come across her desk and the title alone made her want to pick it up and read it. So, if a better title can get an editors attention, you better bet your bippy that I'll work on it! :0)

So, what am I going to do to fix it?

1) I'm going to take my villian out for coffee and ask him about his childhood and what makes him tick. Why does he do what he does? How does he justify his actions, because surely he doesn't see himself as villian. How does he see himself? hmmmm. . . maybe I can get him a spot on Oprah, I'm sure she can get him to spill his gutts.

2) I'm not quite sure how to fix dialogue. The first step is to go through it again, find the places that need to be fixed and have my critique group do that too, and then go from there. If anyone has any advice on how to fix dialogue, please leave it in the comments. Any in put is appreciated.

and last #3) The title. I think I've decided on a new title "Unseen Enemy"
Do you like it? Cast your vote now!

Not onlly does Martha have great advice, but she has an awesome collection of shoes as well! and she says, I quote, "I think cute shoes are the secret to world domination."


Brenda said...

I like Unseen makes me wonder what the Enemy the MC his own enemy, but he hasn't figured it out yet or is there someone out there that he trusts that is the real enemy? I love vampire movies/books, so could Unseen Enemy mean the supernatural type of many meanings in such a simple title...that is the type of book I like...just my thoughts...grin...

Sounds like you got some great advice...Congrats on that...

sruble said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sruble said...

It sounds like a great critique - yay!

Since I haven't read the dialog, I'm only going on what the editor said ... but I would interpert it to mean that the backstory has to come out of dialogue. Is there a way you can weave it in as narrative instead? Backstory dialogue is hard because either it isn't like people would really talk and/or it tells things that the other characters would already know.

The new title is ok, but it's not as specific as the old title. Sometimes that works, and sometimes not. Is there something more descriptive about the enemy that you could add?

It sounds like you've got a lot of great stuff going for your story that you can build on. Congratulations!

Ian Sands said...

I like your new title but after careful consideration feel it doesn't give enough of the story away... where perhaps the old title gave away too much?? Does that make sense? However it is more intriguing.. so, i vote, i like it but don't settle yet. Just my 2 cents... the casbah will be rocked.

Angela said...

Becca just did a great post on dialogue. Grab a copy of 'Self editing for Fiction Writers' too--the dialogue info in there is fantastic.

I like your title, but it's hard to say if it's the right one without knowing what the story is about. Maybe give us a sound bite blurb?

adrienne said...

I like your idea for working on your villian. I think the most interesting villians are the ones you feel some sympathy for.

Colorado Writer said...

I read my dialogue out loud and use my character's voices...sometimes I stand up and act it out.

Not even kidding.

Jacqui said...

I agree with sruble about the backstory needing to come out of the dialogue and perhaps being put elsewhere. Are there parts of it you can take out all together even?

I also read dialogue aloud.

Congrats on the great critique!

PJ Hoover said...

What a fantastic critique and great ideas on what you can do to work on it. I love that you're taking your villain out to tea. I may take mine out for a glass of wine. Man I love this idea! So much!

Kate said...

Yes, I always find a good chat with my characters helps me to fill them out in a story. My family think I'm sitting and staring into space, but I've actually got a whole interview going on in my head.

Sounds like a really useful critique, Christy.

C.R. Evers said...

Hey everybody! Thanks for the great input! I'll keep mulling it over.

You guys are the best!