Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Goals and stuff

A few days after I learned I'd placed third in the ACFW Genesis contest, the judges score sheets showed up in my email, compliments of Camy Tang, the contest coordinator (thank you, Camy, for answering about a dozen questions from me over past few months, and all your hard work). The judges for this final round, in the Historical category, were editors from two major Christian publishing houses. I'm particularly glad of that, because they had a lot to stay about Kindred. Long story short, it still needs a lot of self-editing.

A lot. But I knew that. I did. So I read all the comments (which were anonymous, I can't say which comments were from which editor), and saw that my two overall scores were right around the average mark, one a little above, one a little below. Some elements scored quite high. It seems I have a good command of language, grammar and punctuation, a distinct and unique voice, I show rather than tell, and have a handle on setting. Conflict is good, each character is distinct.

On the negative side, I'm trying to be too literary (although I have a hard time knowing what to do with this crit, since I don't read literary works--to the best of my knowledge--and wouldn't know how to try to be literary any more than I know how to stop trying). The main criticism is that the manuscript is still (still!) heavily overwritten. This after my editing a novel's worth (71,000 words) out of it.

After the first crestfall of receiving the negative comments, I realized that what I was feeling was gratitude... and determination. Being overwritten is not the worst thing in the world, in my book *smile*. Given time away from the manuscript to gain objectivity, I can slash and burn with the best of them. I did it once. I can do it again.

But not yet. I'm still working on the final section. My goal is to have it complete by October 30. It's progressing well, and so that's not an Impossible Goal.

Discipline is one day at a time. Bum glue. Blinders to shut out distractions. It's telling that I've spent more time in recent weeks at the computer in that my back and neck are sore almost all the time now.

Working on that posture. No slumping!


  1. Lori girl,
    You've got what it takes! I soak up every word of Kindred you post and it IS literary because it is beautifully written!! I have been criticized as having too literary a style (aka old-fashioned) and like you, I kind of scratch my head. I don't intend to do this but that is how I'm wired to write. I don't like books that have a video game type feel - no depth, no feeling, no beauty, nothing! GRRRRRR. And I refuse to write one!

    I do overwrite - and am guilty of being a writer who overstays her welcome at the reader's expense. I do severe self-edits. My current novel is at 148 thousand words and I have to get it down and I will do it with lots of prayer and patience. So will you.

    Take heart. You are writing just what I like to read! And if little old me likes to read it then there are hundreds more just like me!

    God bless.

  2. Laura,

    Oh my, you've sure put a smile on my face and encouraged my heart. Thank you!

    I could only _wish_ KINDRED was merely 148,000 words. I could edit that down without breaking a sweat. *s*

    Try going on 300,000 words. Yeah. I hate to admit it, but I'm edging back that way.

    Still, I do take heart.

  3. You really didn't have that many questions, and I was glad to answer them!

    I've actually seen some overwriting in the critiques I do for my Story Sensei service, and the one thing I suggest to them is that they restructure their stories to have Scenes and Sequels (Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain). I have a few articles on that on my Story Sensei blog.

    Once a story is restructured this way (and I won't lie to you, often it requires a lot of work and some entire scenes being cut or combined), the story is tighter because the movement of the story is more focused, thanks to Scene and Sequel.

    Hopefully that might help!

  4. Camy,

    Thanks for dropping by! I learned about Swain's scene/sequel technique years ago, but to be honest, I didn't consciously apply it to the writing of KINDRED. Thanks for jogging my memory about that. I plan to begin editing this monster before the end of the year, so I'll bear that in mind when I do (and I'll be over to check out your blog).

    Anything that helps me streamline the storytelling is a huge help, as were the comments from the final round judges.

    Combining scenes is something I hope to pull off, as well as simply trimming back the overgrown description.