Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Okay, I've thought about the rejection letter and I am going to update my blog. Should I quote a piece of what Ms. Agent wrote me? Yeah, I should.
"Thanks so much for sending me NEW HOPE. I really enjoyed the story; it's well-plotted and entertaining. Unfortunately, I don't think the book grabs the emotions as much as it should. The characters feel emotionally distant. This is a common flaw with early manuscripts and I'm sure with continued work you'll master the technique. I'd be happy to take another look at your work at some point. I wish you the best as you continue down the road to publication!"
This is an amazing rejection letter. Now I really want this agent. Her sweet respect and encouragement make me just want her to sign me! I've listened to other author's opinions about what she meant, and I think I have an understanding. And guess what? She's SO right. I went back and read my first chapter. It's gripping and pulls you in, but you don't know what Eva is feeling. I show the story and in some ways I explain who she is as a result of her circumstances (being Jewish in Nazi occupied Germany), but I don't explain who SHE is as a person -outside of her circumstances and current life situation. What is her favorite color? Her favorite food? What does she do for fun? To relax? To vent?
As a doula, when I would interview a pregnant mommy so that I could know how to best help her during labor, I asked her pages and pages of personal questions. Where do you hold tension? What do you do to release the tension? Do you have areas on your body that you can't stand being touched? Do you like your head, feet, back rubbed? Which one would you prefer? And on and on. Does it matter that the mom may watch TV when she wants to relax? Not really. Not while she's in labor it doesn't because she wont be watching TV, but it tells me a little about her and how she unwinds so that I know that she prefers to work through her discomfort by being distracted rather than focusing on it. The answers the mommy gives me sheds light onto other areas of her life because as humans, our likes and dislikes are connected to how we perceive things and in turn to our reactions.
Yet, I didn't ask Eva (my main character) what her favorite color was!
Here's what I did to rectify my mistake. I joined A.C.F.W. and found a few character sheets with tons of questions to ask of my character. Right now, I'm working on filling them out and already I am seeing more layers to Eva, which is exciting. I added bits and pieces of her to the first chapter, but I'm sure I'll add more. I can't wait to really make her a person in my story. I had a friend read my manuscript a while ago and she said she loved it because she really felt like she was watching Eva's life unfold through a window. At the time I thought that was huge, but now I see I don't want my readers to watch it through a window. I want them to watch it through HER eyes. Through a deep connection with Eva. I hope I am able to make that happen.
Here's The Question: Have you done a character questionnaire for your main character? How do you add depth to your characters? If you're a reader, what in the story makes you feel connected to the characters?
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Before I begin, I must warn you -this post has nothing to do with writing. Alright, you've been warned, we can proceed.
I can now add a new state to the list of places I've lived.
Okay. So, here's the list:
My new home state? New Mexico. I've driven through plenty of times, but this time is different. This time I stayed and I'm glad I did. I love living around types of natural beauty that are unique to a certain area or state and meeting people from backgrounds different from my own. I think it helps a person to write better -to tap into a larger array of characters when they have lived and experienced more than what's in their own comfort zone. Wait, look, this IS about writing! Leave it to me!
Seriously though, I feel like a blessed woman. When I moved to Texas it was a huge culture shock, but the two years I spent there taught me a lot. I saw a culture hinged upon family and values. I also saw more flat land and big skies than I thought existed!
Now that I'm in yet a new state, I can't wait to learn and see what all New Mexico has to offer and I can't help but wonder if I'll use the area, it's history, or it's people into one of my books.
Are you wondering about the pictures up top? I couldn't help myself. Yes, I did an unsafe thing -I took pictures while driving. (Guilty sigh) I thought the comparison was hilarious. Oh, and I should mention that that U-Haul you see in both pictures, yeah that was my view the WHOLE trip. My hubby was pulling it.
Here's the question:
Can you guess what I was comparing? Notice any differences between the two state pictures?