Testing the waters

When I put my work out to the world I expect some people to respond. That response can be greatly varied from super negative and overwhelming to ultra positive and everywhere in between. Sometimes the feedback is just fluff, hate or nonsense. However, sometimes there is constructive elements to it.

It may not always be obvious. As I’m getting more and more no’s from my queries I start to wonder. Why? Sure there are the variables I’ve discussed such as the slush pile syndrome, to the agents being too busy or not actually open to queries (even though they say they are) or they’re not the right agent for the story. Whatever that may be, there are a great deal of reasons.

Keeping a positive outlook is hard to do. Still I strive to look forward to possibilities not back at what didn’t happen.

Yes I’m getting to a point. With so much negative response it’s easy to question myself and my work. It’s going to happen that is human nature. So what do I do about it? I look at it objectively. I try to recognize the criticism as constructive no matter what. There is no place for mega ego here that will get me nowhere. Since the first chapter is what all agents are looking at perhaps there is something amiss. I’m not going to say wrong but I have to be open to the possibility that it’s not quite right.

I’m not saying that it’s time to panic or second guess myself at all. Just that I’m aware. If I send out 300 queries and they all say no perhaps something needs to change. While the end of my query quest is far from the end i have a long way to go I’m looking forward and preparing for the possibility that I need to be objective and make a change.

This is where an outside perspective might help, but only if they can be honest and I’m not going to freak out. I won’t, I’m a fairly level-headed person.

So I looked at the first chapter and I looked at the tone, perspective and over all feel. While I love it and its perfect IMO, if I’m honest it has a slight military feel to it. Huh. Not at all what the story is about nor what I meant. However the method of the main character in that situation definitely comes across as military or police. Then I realized something. The first chapter POV is following the secondary not the main character. Hmmm… So my solution is to re-write the first chapter. Maybe once, maybe a few times with a couple different approaches. This for me will be a good way to see if the POV is what might be tripping up the agents.

There is no harm to do this because it’s just one chapter, that incidentally came after the book was written. This does not mean I’m scrapping what I wrote, just testing the waters to see if I got the tone or feel of the chapter off because of the perspective.

To be honest I’m a bit excited to try out a few other angles for the first chapter to the book. Since I’ve written a few more books that follow it, the opportunity to get it perfect, to craft the perfect version of the introduction.

My advice about being open to feedback.
Whatever the form it comes in don’t take it too personally, but don’t dismiss it altogether. It’s an opportunity to see potential if you’re open-minded about it.

-Sheryl

Other posts that are more fun than this one. 😉

It’s really very unnecessary

The jerk-face warrior

Bacon, Banter and Coffee

Missing body parts

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Overwhelming
Recognize
Craft

That’s what she saw

Choosing a book’s POV, point of view is important. It is partly conveying I am as a writer. Sticking to the POV chosen is most important. Swapping or mixing is generally not a great idea. I have read stories that mix and it’s hard to read.

A frustrated reader isn’t reading. Third person POV is the style I write in. There are two types of third person. Third person Limited and Third person Omniscient.

Third person limited is the story revolving around one person. There is no conspiring behind their back, no major or minor events happening away from them. It’s not limiting, just restricted. Things can happen out of their eyesight (Unlike the first person) but the view of the story revolves around one character’s actions, thoughts, and emotions. You can still show the emotions of others.

Third person Omniscient allows the story to be told through multiple characters. Less is more. Two maybe three IMO.  Now some big famous authors do write with a plethora of characters view, however, they do one very important thing. They don’t mix the views. Some say keeping the views to separate paragraphs is good, and I agree it totally is if it’s one, two or maybe three and they are in the same room or area. However, if there are many characters being followed keeping each to their own chapter (unless they cross paths) is recommended. So if I were writing about Pirates and this part of the story was about a Pirate named Tapper who secretly refuses to rob and pillage, I would start the chapter off with   -Tapper-  that way the chapter is clearly labeled as from Tapper’s view. (This chapter labeling can also work really well for first person perspective if you have more than one character narrating.)

I use Omniscient in BiaAtlas, I have two main characters, a third that sort of gets a bit of alone time and a bunch of support characters. If I decide to give them the spotlight I am ultra careful to either use a new paragraph or they get a whole chapter to themselves.

In third person narrative, I as the writer know everything. Thoughts, emotions, actions and well everything. I can say, show and explain whatever I want to. As long as I stay out of my characters’ bodies/minds. No jumping into one’s mind and speaking from their view(that would be first POV)  This is harder than I thought. Filter words and emotional tags are a good indicator I’ve slipped to the wrong POV. It also means I’m being wordy and can remove some.

This is where Showing emotions instead of telling them comes into play. I talk about this all the time. Why? Because it is super important.

For example how not to third person…

Valery felt sad as she looked out the window feeling the cool glass against her forehead. “I feel helpless.” She couldn’t think of anything to do to help Sasha.
Jackson came up from behind sensing her distress and slid his arms around her. The draft from the window felt damp as it brushed his arms he could feel goosebumps rise on his skin.
“Ah baby, that you feel this way shows how good a friend you are. The police will keep her safe until they catch the guy.”
She didn’t think the police were as reliable as they used to be and snorted a response.
Jackson felt she needed a change of activity he wanted her to stop staring at the depressing rainy view.” Come away from the drafty window love.” (131)

Now I’ll take that rubbish and shift it to one POV, the third. Remove the filter words such as feel, felt, want and think…

Valery frowned as she looked out the window, the glass cool against her forehead. “I feel helpless.” Her mind stuck on her missing friend Sasha.
Jackson came up from behind and slid his arms around her. The damp draft from the window raised goosebumps on his arms. “Ah baby, that shows how good a friend you are. The police will keep her safe until they catch the guy.”
She snorted in response, her faith in the police not as strong as it used to be.
Jackson nudged her from the rainy dismal view outside. “Come away from the drafty window love.”  (101)

Not only did I remove 30 words from the original draft, but I managed to pull the reader out of the characters heads/bodies and let them be a part without jumping perspectives. I have to say once I figured out how to highlight the filter words all at once,(Well colour me silly) it made a huge difference in how I look at my sentences when revising a third person POV story.

My advice about 3rd person POV writing.
This is the most common for a reason but can be challenging. Stay focused and watch out for those damned pesky filter words and emotional ‘feelings’. 

-Sheryl

Filter word blog post No “Filter Word” Parking Here
Dialogue Tag blog post Tag! You’re it. 
A showy Blog posShow and tell 
What I mean by Highlighting Filter words Well colour me silly

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