One of the popular features at the 2010 Write Touch Conference was the WisRWA's got talent hour. Two industry professionals, this year Agent Scott Eagen from Greyhaus Literary Agency and Editor Victoria Curren from Harlequin, read the first pages of a manuscript and commented on them. They both had great senses of humor and I'm sure the lucky few who had their page read received a lot of benefit fromt he experience. Although they did not get to my page (so sad), I got some important take aways from the discussion.
- TMI is just that. Be picky about the details you include, especially at the beginning. We love the five senses, but sometimes use them too much. Don't be too intrusive. Leave information out until you are at the point in the MS where readers need to know.
- Be careful not to confuse the reader. Several times they noted the need to read the passage more than once to understand what was going on because of the order in which facts were revealed. In real life they would probably not bother, we get one chance to make that good impression.
- Don't overwork your phrasing. People should love your words enough to want to keep reading, but not so much that they stop to enjoy fancy phrasing. That takes them away from the story.
- RUE - Resist the Urge to Explain. This usually results in repetition. Trust the reader and write tight.
One of the more interesting aspects of the discussion were the areas where they disagreed. Sometimes that pendulum swung violently. One panelist would like a passage the other found big problems with. Usually for wildly different reasons. Reminding us all again, this is a subjective business. Keep looking, and you may yet find that special someone who will love your words.