Although I've written five novels, there is one that is dearest to my heart, and I keep coming back to her after seven years. That baby has seen more rejection than Rodney Dangerfield; she's been around the block more times that Miley Cyrus, and she's received the reception of a president during a depression. However, I think I've finally tweaked her to a new level . . . or I'm setting myself up for a huge disappointment.
Last fall, I attended the SCBWI conference in Nashville. At the conference, I met a book editor who had a way of ticking everyone off with her quick NOs to our first pages. By the end of the conference, I was so angry that I didn't even bother to write down her submission requirements. But now that I've had time to cool and think, I realize that she gave me some of the most valuable information I'd ever gotten. I'd like to thank her.
I attended her session on dialogue. I always felt like dialogue was my strength, and maybe it is, but perhaps I have looked at dialogue all wrong. This editor told us that dialogue should not be what's moving the story. In fact, one should be able to remove the dialogue completely and still have a solid plot in place that the reader can follow. So, dialogue's job is to enhance what is already on the page. With that in mind, I revisited my baby looking for ways to tell Ben's story without too much dialogue. What I've noticed is a much deeper voice with a true insight as to what's in his head.
I believe this has taken my book to a new level and has given me the confidence to fork
over $30 to the Claymore Award competition. As a rule, I typically only enter free contests, so that when I lose, I chip away at my pride and not my pocketbook. However, I've taken a leap of faith. What makes this contest so appealing is knowing that those reading my first fifty pages are junkies of my genre. Furthermore, one does not have to win to win with Claymore. Any manuscript deemed ready for publication, winner or not, will be suggested to an appropriate editor. So, I hope someone sees what I see in my work.
Now that I've passed my manuscript on, I've gone back to revising book two. Yes, I have a completed sequel to my book that's never been published and half of a third book. I quit working on these after someone suggested that writers not work on sequels to unpublished books.
For those who are interested, here is my first paragraph to that book that will one day become a best seller and a major motion picture. Oh, how I wish.
I tried to focus on Ms. Link’s history review, but it was pointless once I’d spotted the fat guy outside my classroom window. He had stood under a tree less than twenty feet away for the past half-hour with his bug eyes aimed straight at me. I rubbed my hand over my stiff neck and noticed that my shoulders had inched upwards. Knowing I had to stop this stare down, I got out of my chair and headed toward the window. Maybe if I closed the smudged thing, he wouldn’t be able to see inside.