devastating expected news that I hadn’t made the semi-finals in the ACFW’s Genesis Contest, they tortured me by making me wait a bit for the feedback from the three anonymous judges.
The waiting almost killed me.
Did they completely hate the story and think my plot stunk? Was my voice and characterizations shallow and armature? So many questions swirled around in my mind, paralyzing me from opening the document when they finally sent it.
I thought I’d already developed a thick skin with my writing group. I was sure they had already killed every last shred of my ego. But in that moment I realized that no, I still have an ego to be torn apart. Bollocks.
Luckily, when I opened up those critiques, they weren’t nearly so bad as I imagined. Yes, I have a lot of work to do. But there are some things that I am doing right.
According to the anonymous authors that read the first 15 pages of my WIP, I do have some strengths as an author. Phew! I have good characterization, they like my main character, I have great conflict that moves the story along, a good handle on showing verses telling, inspirational theme’s worked well and felt natural, and one judge even said ‘you’re a good writer.’ Another judge said I have a truly interesting story and ‘I really hope you see this story through to the end.’
Ah, praise – a nice stroke to the ego.
However. Why does there always have to be a ‘however’?
However. I have a few craft skill that I need to get command of before I’m ready to sell this story.
#1. Stop burying the (often stilted, sometimes good) dialogue. I have a habit of writing dialogue, and then burying it between exposition. It’s just the natural way that I think. So, this one is going to be challenging to fix and keep from happening in my future writing. I think I need to read up more on writing good dialogue.
#2. Move the story along quicker in the beginning. The manuscript is too ‘quiet’ – too much walking, standing, sitting, not enough emotion and action. I get it, something more needs to be happening, even if the conflict is there to keep the story moving as a whole.
#3. Weed Out the Weasel Words. My first reaction was: What are weasel words? The judge didn’t explain beyond saying to steer clear of ‘know/knew’ and ‘feel/felt.’ I’ve had enough trouble with the weeding out the passive voice, now they’re telling me I have to change more about the way that I write? NO!!
So, I did the only thing I could do – hunted the internet for the answer. After much searching, I discovered the problem. My story needs to be in deep POV (Point of View) Here is an excerpt from a writer about the deep POV and words to avoid:
‘avoid using “telling” words and phrases: felt, saw, heard, just as, plus, because, knew, little does she know, without thinking, however, she continued, he thought, she realized, couldn’t help but, can’t help noticing.’ (Seekerville)
So yes. After reading up on the “Deep POV,” I’ve seen the light. Changing the way I write and getting deeper into my characters voice will help with some of the other area’s I struggled with, like:
#4. Find a unique voice. When you get into the deep POV writing mode, this unique voice is suppose to follow much easier. I’m still working on editing with the deep POV mode, so we’ll see how this goes. I’d thought my writing voice wasn’t bad. But apparently it’s not great either. Must. Work. On. This.
#5. Get rid of the passive voice. Now, this one hurt. I really thought I’d been mindful of that evil passive voice. I’ll keep on keeping on with this. Passive voice, you are my nemesis!
#6. Add more description. The only thing that the judges knew about how May looked was that she is fair skinned. Whoops.
So for now, I am whittling out the weasel words and hoping for magic to happen.