Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bring on the Criticism!

Maybe I'm weird - okay I know I'm weird - but I'm SO excited to be going through all the criticism from the judges of the Daphne du Maurier contest.  They've given the good, bad, and the ugly on my book. And while I did have a response to one judge's comment, the rest all gave me tons of stuff to work on. Best part? Most of their criticisms are what I was already thinking is wrong with the book. 

It's great to know I'm on the right track. Now I just have to figure out how to fix it. And how am I supposed to improve my writing if I don't know what's wrong. I mean, I know the entire story, but I don't know that what's on the page is enough for everyone else.

My favorite comment is this one from the summary page:
The basis of the story is very good. 

Short and to the point and tells me I've got a good starting point at least.

This one warmed my heart and made feel for the judge, because I may be the one contestant who won't take her comments as criticisms of who I am or who my character is.

Please don't feel discouraged by any of my remarks. You've got the premise for a great cozy here, you just need to work it up some more. I know how hard it is to take a wip from ok-to-good-to-great. You can do it! You've got the imagination, the smarts, and the "voice". Keep at it and i'm sure you'll be published. Good luck!
 This judge is the only one I wish I could have spoken too, because I had questions for her.

You’ve created a heroine with a lot of potential: ex-alcoholic, short fuse, and surprised by dead people at all hours of the day though she’s still a bit of a cipher to me.

I’m pretty confused about the rules/mythology for the dead people. Can the dead people contact jess anywhere or do they have to stay where they are? Could rosie get into the car with jess if she wanted to or does she need to stay in jess’ home? Does jess see dead people constantly at the hospital?

I would think carefully about what the main story is - sallie mae’s story or the story at the hospital - and how much detail you need to go into about the ancillary characters. I’m not sure who is really important to the story.
 My question would be should I put all the information on the rules for Jess's dead groupies. It comes later in the book and I'm wondering if I should put it in the first few chapters. If I could have put in more than 5,000 words she would have gotten that info. But I really like the last paragraph about thinking what is the main story. Because they're all tangled up together I'm not quite sure how I'll fix that yet.

And this one was my absolute favorite, mainly because this judge also gave me his/her email address should I have questions later - and I will be sending one for certain!  
I think this submission has some real potential. The author has an interesting plot in mind. And to be honest, except for a typo here or there, I had no real issues with sentence structure, grammar or punctuation (except for the!s) It was the overabundance of detail that kept stopping me. But truthfully, this is an easy fix, as long as you are willing to part with a good portion of your words.

Think of your novel as a garden. It’s hopefully overflowing with flowers instead of weeds. You want your readers to see and smell and experience the beauty of your skillfully crafted roses, hollyhocks and irises, your flowers. You don’t want your novel garden to be overrun by dandelions.

I wish you the very best and hope that I helped at least a little. Never give up, never stop writing and always, always believe in yourself.
That last line is the one to hang onto. And I hope soon, that I'll get it all figured out and be able to get Jess' story out there.

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