Friday, April 17, 2015

Writing Workshop Experience

Anyone interested in writing anything they hope to publish should avail themselves of an opportunity like I recently experienced.  The workshop focus was the middle ground between the skill of writing and the business of writing.  The presentations and discussions included query letters, pitching to agents, first pages, blogging and other platforms to get your name 'out there'. 

They called for anonymous pages to be submitted.  I submitted.  Submissions were drawn at random.  Mine was drawn. The moderator read aloud the pages drawn.  Three professional agents listened, and were instructed to raise their hand when, if they were reading this page in their office, they would stop and put the submission in either the slush pile or the trash can.  When two of the three hands were raised, the moderator stopped reading for a debrief.  Two hands were raised before the third paragraph of my page was read.  Of course, I felt crushed. But listening to the rationale from the agents put a band aid on my ego.  My intent for my opening was to create a sense of peace and tranquility that would soon change as Matty grew older.  But their point was that there was nothing to grab the reader's attention and make them really want to turn the page to see what was happening next.  My first page was slow and boring.  They were right.

I pulled some of my favorite authors' books off the shelves at the library and I got it.  In their first pages told who was the main character, what was the setting for the action, what is the actions and why the reader should care. My first page started with:

Chapter 1
County Leitrim, Ireland, September 1633

The agent's said "You should never do that!"

So I pulled a good book by one of my favorite authors and looked to find that Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth"  Starts with a similar 'time and place' inscription, and ironically, Follett is represented by the agency of one of the folks doing the critiquing.  Oh well.  Follett is an established author, and i suppose that success breeds latitude is the judging eyes of agents. 

More the reason to get busy and expand my platform, focus on editing, rewriting, and prepping for the time when I am ready to query an agent and pitch my book for a specific genre.  If I can ever figure out what that might be.  Should I go tradutional or self publish?  Should it be a hardback or an e-book, or go right for a screen play?

That's a topic for another time.  Writing is now sliced and diced into what seems like an infinite number of pigeon holes for authors to decipher. Is the book a novel or a memoir? Is it literary?  Is it romance, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi, erotica?  Is it children's,  young adult, new adult, male, female? 

Ready?  Set?  Pitch!

Gird your loins for criticism, it doesn't hurt for long.

Meanwhile, I'm going back to my novel.