I spent my time this week re-writing. I looked at the comments that came back from judges (I entered two contests) and evaluated what they said. Overall, the comments were not consistent. Some loved the story, others did not. Some thought it started at the right place, others did not. All of them liked the voice (that felt good) and most felt the story had a great chance of being published.
I re-read my story with a more critical eye. One of the comments that struck me concerned the synopsis. I got high marks on it however, from what they read (the first 50 pages) they did not see the story coming together, too much back story. I decided to take a bold step. I decided to cut the first two chapters as some of the judges suggested.
I loved, absolutely loved the first chapter. The judges didn’t see the value of the chapter because they only had the first 50 pages. The information in the first chapter is critical later on. But… the first chapter did not grab them. Cut. Ouch!
The second chapter really demonstrated (show) our heroine’s qualities. It was much shorter when I just told you (tell) but other critiques said to put the words in to actions and scenes. I deleted this chapter too. Double cut (it was longer). Ouch!
The more I read chapter 3 the more I realized I had to add a scene to set up the chapter. I have re-read it several times. It moves the reader quickly into the story (the entire point of this exercise) and to be honest, it may even be better. I am still a bit prejudice about the original beginning. I have not thrown out the chapters. The information they contain still needs to be threaded through the story. It’s a challenge to decide where to put these little nuggets, but overall I am actually enjoying it.
So, I am Re-reading, Re-thinking and Re-writing.
For those of you eager for the answers to last week’s test. Here are the books and authors for the opening sentences from some famous romance novels. Did you guess which one was mine?
- “As their elegant traveling chaise rocked and swayed along the rutted country road, Lady Anne Gilbert leaned her cheek against her husband’s shoulder and heaved a long, impatient sigh.”
Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught
- “How does a person reenter a life she left behind years earlier?”
Summer of Roses by Luanne Rice
- “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- “It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least not at first glance.”
Outlander by Diane Gabaldon
- “The noon whistle blew and the saws stopped whining.”
Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
- “Lord Arik’s commanding presence made him easy to spot as he led the three riders and wagon speeding across the forest trail.”
To Hearth and Home, Rebeka’s Story by Ruth Seitelman
- “Who am I? And how, I wonder, will this story end?”
The Notebook by Nicolas Sparks
- “Douglas Montgomery sat in the back seat of the rental car, Robert and his pudgy thirteen-year-old daughter, Gloria, in the front.”
Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux
- “Cam called in markers, pulled strings, begged favors and threw money around in a dozen directions.”
Sea Swept by Nora Roberts
- “They said he killed his first wife.”
The Bride by Julie Garwood