Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Friday, October 29, 2010

THE FIRST TWO PAGES

If you're like almost every writer in the world, those first two pages of your new manuscript are hell to perfect, and they are so important to whether you get published or not.  It's the first impression of your writing style (and your characters) an industry professional gets, so you better make them great!

At the recent South Carolina Writer's Workshop Conference in Myrtle Beach, I was one of a lucky 20 people you got to learn from one classy literary agent, Suzie Townsend from Fineprint Literary Management. Ms. Townsend took us through the essential parts and purposes of those first two pages.  Here's what I learned:

The first two pages should:

1) Begin with a hook: A OMG first line that makes the reader stand up and pay attention.
2) Create an interesting character & plot.
3) Create a sense of intrigue.
4) Create investment in the characters.

The first two pages serve several functions:

1.)Establishes character's voice.
2) Establishes the conflict.
3) Establishes the tone.
4) Indicates the setting.

Then, she asked us to answer this question for our hook:

DOES YOUR FIRST LINE CATCH THE READER OFF GUARD?

She gave us several examples of FANTASTIC first pages.  Here are just a few:

1) The Electric Church by Jeff Somers
2) Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
3) You  by Charles Benoit
4) The Lovely Bones   by Alice Sebold

This was an outstanding intensive workshop. Take a look at your first two pages with these things in mind, and see where you can improve!

THANK YOU SUZIE TOWNSEND for a AWESOME workshop!! Your clients are lucky to have you!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

South Carolina Writer's Conference Update

Good things come to those who wait, and I hit the jackpot going to the SCWW conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this past weekend. I FINALLY got to meet my wonderful critique partner, Margo.  I flew in from Texas, and she flew in from Idaho!  We had a blast.  She is so nice and motivating.  We kept each other going through the entire conference.

Then, I had total fangirl moments all weekend. I met Suzie Townsend, Meredith Barnes, Diana Fox, Susan Hawk, and Rachelle Gardiner.  I could hardly contain myself.  They were all so fabulous!!! I learned great tips and got personalized attention from each one.  The advice will surely make me a better writer.

On Saturday, Joshilyn Jackson spoke as the keynote speaker, and she was so inspiring.  I laughed so hard, I cried.  She writes those killer first lines all writers swoon over.  Check out her website at http://www.joshilynjackson.com/.

Also, I met some wonderful writers (Shout out to Alison, Andrienne, Margo, and Heather!).  We survived the ice cold, teeth-chattering classrooms and came out more inspired!  And thanks to Suzie Townsend, we are able of write killer queries and OMG (startingly good) first two pages!

I will definitely attend next year, and so should all of you!!!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Getting into Character!!!

I can't believe I haven't written a post since July, but there is a reason. I didn't fall off the writing horse intentionally. On August 15th, I was stricken with a Iritis flare-up. It is like arthritis of the eye.  I was pretty much incapacitated for two months.  It is very light sensitive, and it hurt too much to even look at a computer screen.  Talk about painful!!  But, it is now getting better (with steroid drops every hour and dilating my eye four times a day), and I'm now able to type on my computer again.  I have missed you all.  It definitely wasn't the best time to be put in the dark (literally).  I had hopes of finishing my Ms for a writing conference I am attending in a couple of weeks.  But, alas, I don't think it will be even nearly ready. 

I'm very excited about this conference because I will finally get to meet my Writing Critique Partner, Margo!! (Shout out to Margo!!).  Also, one of my favorite agents to follow, Suzie Townsend, is scheduled to be there.  I soooooooo want to meet her! Her Twitter wars with Janet Reid are legendary and she is a top notch agent. I am hoping to pitch my new novel to see if it would even be something she is interested in seeing when I'm finished.

But enough about what's happening to me these days...now on to the real reason for my post.  I want to talk about getting into character.

As a writer, I am mostly drawn to writing in first person POV.  Everything I have written thus far has been done in this style, but my new Ms began to flow for me as a third person revolving POV between two characters.  However, the glitch for me is...writing in third person POV made it hard for me to get into character.  I was reading one my chapter critiques from Margo for our Weekly Chapter Challenge group (YAY, WCC on Writer's Digest!), and I started noticing a pattern. Her comments all rotating around getting into the head of my characters.  So, I asked myself...do I know him at all?  I feel like sometimes I'm writing him as an outsider when I should be writing him the same way I wrote in first person POV.  My aha moment!

Not to mention, I was at the Smart Chicks Tour in Austin a couple of weeks ago with some fabulous authors (Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Mar, and Rachel Caine), and Alyson Noel said the most intriguing thing about writer's block. She said when she got stuck in the writing process (she doesn't call it writer's block), she goes back into her notebook and writes the scene in first person, really fledging out how the character would feel in that moment.  Then, she uses that to help her go forward.  WOW! That's exactly what I need to do!  

So, even though third person feels like a foreign way to write most of the time, it should never get in the way of getting into character!!