Thursday, October 25, 2012

How much is the story in the window?

Lessons from a Cracked Rear View Mirror

By Michala T.
This week I had a strange but enlightening thing occur to me. I was surfing through Stumbleupon and came across a website that caught my interest. I piddled around on it for a bit. It was a site where for $3.95 someone could upload a sample of their writing. The writing would then be read by others and if well-liked would advance. The more people liked it the further higher it would go until, if the writer was so fortunate, it made it a particular level where the site claimed agents and publishers read and frequently choose from. Then voila…you have a potential for a book to be published!
I was very leery about this but pressed on to see what they were looking for in a sample of writing. For your $3.95 you were to submit a 50 word synopsis of what your story was about. And they stated you could upload your first page. When I looked closer however, you were only able to upload 250 words. I had to do a double take on that one. 250 words is not much at all. I was quite taken aback by this. I mean you couldn’t give much at all for 250 words. And they had suggested in the line above the box that you wanted to give the best you had. Well, obviously you would want to give the best. I mean how else can you hook, line, and reel in an agent in only 50 words. NOW See that. When I wrote the word now, that was from start to finish…250 words. That is not a page!

Still the entire activity got me thinking. I mean, it got me thinking seriously. Would by own book be able to pass from one level to the next with the first 250 words I had written? Even though I knew the words by heart I still had to open my manuscript and look. Low and behold, and this had been bothering me for a while, no; it would not pass the bar. Not that it was good stuff. But it wasn’t the right stuff.
And William and I had been talking the week prior about a chapter we both agreed felt out of place. I thought about that chapter and though, well the first 250 words of that chapter is pretty intense! Why not stick it in the first chapter. And when I suggested it, he agreed it worked really much better. We felt relieved.
Of course it meant I had to go and edit a lot of small things, rewrite some scenes to make it work but that’s cool. It made me feel re-energized about things. It awakened my state of mind and turned on a writing frenzy that I hadn’t experienced in a good while. I feel better about where things are headed now. Sometimes the things we stumble upon create the biggest changes.


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