STATUS: The International Date Line just fascinates me. See, right now it’s about twenty after noon on Saturday here in Auckland but in Denver, it’s 6:22 p.m. on a Friday night. So am I blogging on the weekend or not?
What’s playing on the iPod right now? DANCING IN THE DARK by Bruce Springsteen
I love the gals who organized that RWNZ conference but boy, it was brutal getting up early so I could do the 7 a.m. aptly named workshop called Cereal Killers. I’m pretty positive I killed the appetite of anyone who attended.
This is one of those tough workshops where attendees can submit the first 2 pages of their manuscript and I treat all the entries as if I were reading my slush pile. The point is to give the attendees an inside look at how an agent thinks and reads.
It’s voluntary and I give big kudos to all who participated but this type of workshop can be brutal. I actually try and strike the balance between being honest and being constructive with my comments. Sounds easy but it’s not.
This time I was smart. I gave everyone the “this workshop is not for the faint of heart” warning before it began. No one ran screaming out the door—either before or after the workshop so I might have succeeded.
Interestingly enough, today really crystallized a couple of reasons why I might pass on asking for a full manuscript. I haven’t really articulated these points before and thought they might be worth sharing.
I’ll pass on sample pages if
1. the author is intruding on the story by giving a recap of what the characters are thinking and feeling when that info is already clear via the scene and dialogue that proceeded it.
2. the author needs to significantly tighten the writing by combining sentences to better detail the action.
3. the author utilizes description that’s not natural to the scene unfolding.
(The example today was that a character had to force her hand away from her mouth. So think about it for a moment. Literally (in the physical sense), someone else can force your hand away but you wouldn’t really do so on your own.)
4. the author has a character whose thoughts and actions are incongruent to the scene unfolding.
(And I don’t mean this in terms of satire where that construct is often deliberate. I mean when it is unintentionally done and it simply creates reader confusion on how to interpret the scene or the character’s motive.)