Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lessons From The Golden Heart

I've been reading my Golden Heart entries and judging them for a good portion of the weekend. 4 down, 2 to go. As I'm reading through other people's best work, I'm amazed at how far I've come in my quest for publication. (Yes, it's all about me. Always, isn't it?) Also, I think about how far I still have to go, too.

One of my biggest lessons learned during this judging session is how important it is to have a complete synopsis. This last entry I read had a 12 page synopsis and I can honestly I still don't know what's happening. The details required for a synopsis (the WHOLE story) are left out and I find myself wondering how the threads of the suspense actually tie together.

The other main lesson learned (or reiterated for me) is how important it is to make every scene count. I've read some entries that had absolutely wonderful scenes that didn't do anything for me as a reader. After the read, I sat there thinking, "That was great, but what did it tell me about the characters and their predicament?" A couple of the entries showcased an excellent understanding of how to use a scene for more than one purpose. The other entries left me wondering, "What was the point?"

In my own work, I've been trying to make sure each scene serves at least 2 purposes. I'm focusing on weaving in clues about the suspense and revealing tidbits of information for at least one of the main characters, if not both. I can't remember which brilliant published author I heard those words of wisdom from, but after reading these Golden Heart entries, I see how important it is to keep your reader focused on the story you're telling. It may be wonderful to know how the little boy at the end of the street makes snow angels, but unless it evokes a memory for the hero, heroine or villain, I don't really need to know that information.

So, the moral of this story? Here is another piece to the publishing puzzle. Make every scene count or that reader will surely cross you off their To Be Read list. (For those of you looking forward to the day you can read one of my books, I promise to make it worth your time and money!)

6 comments:

Cat Schield said...

When I judged my entries, I found some really nice writing was lowered in my eyes by a mediocre synopsis. I got a sense of what editors and agents are up against when they pick up a partial. Made me really sympathetic. And it made me want to work that much harder on my own stuff.

Nita Wick said...

I know wat you mean, and I agree with you and Cat. While judging my entries, I discovered again how important the first page is. A couple of the entries were so slow to start, I had trouble getting into the story at all. Info dumps mainly.

Then there were the synopsis. There was one that really impressed me because the story was so different. That one got a really good score. :)

Lexi said...

That's exactly what I was thinking, Cat!

Nita, I found a few of my entries just didn't start in the right place.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

I found the same to be true with my entries, Lexi. Had one that really sucked me in but the synopsis left me scratching my head. I think writers don't spend enough time working on those synopses.

Kelly Boyce said...

I missed not judging the GH this year. I had hoped to get some submissions but they don't always call on the Canucks what with the extra charge for shipping, etc. Maybe next year...

Lexi said...

Elisabeth, I know I'm guilty of that, but I'm trying to get better.

Kelly, I didn't think they'd still send me any since I dropped out of the GH myself.