Penguin posted their top ten list of entries for the Amazon Breakout Novel Award. Maven didn’t make it, but then neither did 90 other semifinalists. I don’t feel so bad. I do have a book listed at Amazon (Port Nowhere) and an excerpt of the Work In Progress. Soon I’ll have a couple of Amazon shorts listed.
I invested a few bucks in a critique from an editor, Meredith Efken from the Fiction Fixit Shop, who gave me in a few words what others have tried to tell me but didn’t have the expertise to explain. She says there’s not enough feeling or emotion expressed, and it is the emotional experience that keeps readers turning pages. That’s not exactly what the reviewers said, although some of them didn’t like my prose or they weren’t immediately engaged by the character. But it’s clear that a reader won’t get involved without the emotional involvement.
I think that’s what makes Harry Potter so readable–it isn’t the plots, the charcters, or the wizardly stuff, not for someone who has been reading fantasy for more than 50 years. But I did stay up all night with #7, turning pages until dawn to see how it would all be resolved. I am an avid reader, but it ‘s not unusual for me to nod off and to be jolted awake when I drop my book. Rowling kept me awake all night.
Maybe I should do as writing coach suggested and type 50 pages of Rowlings’s work to get how her style into the bones and sinews of my hands and the synapses of my brain. It’s not that I want to copy her style, but that I could learn her technique. Nobody would ever take me for a Brit, and if I were going to steal, I’d steal from Terry Pratchett.
I’m studying Dwight V. Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer to get the technique of showing the emotional response that motivates the physical action of my characters. I need to move the camera closer, and stop being objective. The money’s well spent, and once I get the rewrite done, Meredith will take another look at it. Fixing the beginning will get me far enough along to query agents and submit publishers. If I can fix the first 5000 words, I can fix the other 95,000. I’ll let you know how it goes.