Friday, May 22, 2009

Genesis results: The good, the bad, the ugly (Part III)

THE "ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENTS"

And can I just say? There were a lot of them. ESPECIALLY on book two and three.

Just like on my wins, my RFI's showed up when I averaged my scores using my handy dandy excel spreadsheet. *grin*

Areas that I marked to work on the MOST scored under a 3.5 on average between all 3 books.

• Sensory Details
• Setting
• Inspirational Elements*
• Characterization (believable/understandable)
• Conflict

Sensory Details and setting are probably my two worst areas. I like to get to the point, and writing a sentence about smell or taste or sounds just doesn’t occur to my very fast-paced brain. These are details that I have to go back and edit in later, because they just aren’t there as I write. It, again, is a fault I’m aware of.

Characterization is kinda funny. When I first started writing, someone told me that I did very well at this. But…. Then I found out about the no backstory thing. When I deleted all of that, my characterization went down the tubes. I basically deleted all mention of their motivation and what made them tick. My characters I think are pretty deep and unique individuals, but they don’t come across so at the moment, at least with my second two books. My job is to go back and weave in the backstory in snippets, to show character in different, more subtle ways, that draws my reader in.

Conflict. My stories, as a whole, have quite a bit of conflict. Obviously I can add more, but I think my problem is being able to show the goal of my character and what the conflict is that prevents them for achieving it… and showing that early. My first book is a prime example. It has a lot of conflict throughout, but the first chapter is slower because the conflict is really thrown in throughout the book. I actually really like that aspect, because I don’t think my middles sags because of it. But is it making my first chapter sag then? Hmmmm.

Some helpful criticism I received:

• The setting could be a bit stronger.
• Jack’s character is super, but he seems a bit weaker to me than Jenny’s character
• Is the conflict strong enough? I can’t tell yet.
• Paige’s character doesn’t seem fully developed.
• Conflict seems stilted and unlikely
• I just can’t think of a general CBA publisher where this story would fit. (kp: this is referring to my slightly edgier book. In my research of publishers, I think this isn’t as big of a problem as it would have been a few years ago)
• I DON’T SEE HOW THEIR MOTIVATIONS ARISING FROM THEIR INNER NEEDS/GOALS OR EXTERNAL NEEDS/GOALS ARE ENOUGH TO CREATE CONFLICT. AND THAT’S PROBABLY BECAUSE I DON’T SEE ANY EXTERNAL GOALS. THEY’RE MERELY REACTING TO THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES (HER) OR SOMEONE ELSE’S (HIM).
• The story feels a little choppy in a few areas.
• Try adding more emotion intermixed with the dialogue,
• Also, make Paige more sympathetic so that we understand why she says the things she says. Be sure the things she says aren’t just for shock value. Let us see the hurt through her thoughts.
• THE POTENTIAL IS THERE FOR GREAT CONFLICT, BUT THE CHARACTERS’ MOTIVATION IS A BIT UNBELIEVABLE
• Inspirational elements feel tacked on and don’t even seem to matter to the characters
• Opening with a line of dialogue isn’t enough to hook the reader
• She’s not very likable

*Inspirational Elements
This is a wholllleeee different topic and I’d like to discuss next week in a separate blog post. I’m really looking forward to getting lots of opinions on this one, because I think it’s important. STAY TUNED!

9 comments:

Jody Hedlund said...

Looks like you got some great feedback, Krista. And I enjoyed hearing both the positives and the negatives. I love hearing both sides. As writing friends we need a place where we can share both our struggles and our joys. And as writing friends, who better to understand both? My real life friends certainly don't understand all of this! We writers need each other in this journey!

Krista Phillips said...

Thanks Jody! You are right, no one understands us and shares in our wins/commiserates with our RFI's like our writer friends. YOU my friend are a joy, and thank you!

Terri Tiffany said...

Yay! I finally can get onto your blog!! And I love it! Thanks for sharing about your scores. I loved my feedback too:))

Gwen said...

Hi Krista,

I think it's great that you shared both the positive and the negative here. I learn SO much from reading about other writers' struggles and joys.

I entered the Genesis last year, but not this year. I learned so much from it last year, but just didn't get a new MS together in time this year.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Jessica said...

Wow, that's a great breakdown of the comments. :-) Motivation and goals are something I have to work on a lot.
Have fun tweaking the manuscript! :-)

kaye dacus said...

I've always gotten more out of the "constructive" feedback than the positive feedback---at least when it comes to knowing what to work on and how to improve.

Don't get me wrong, I love the positive feedback. I just feel like there needs to be a healthy dose of the criticism to go along with it, because I already know that what I've written isn't perfect.

Compiling all of your comments into one spreadsheet/file is a GREAT idea! that way, you're separating it out from the original feedback and are seeing everyone's comments mixed together and not just one judge's opinions all lumped together. It's easier to see, that way, if there's consensus on a particular scoring topic or part of your story or if it's just one judge spouting off about something.

Oh, and as a judge, that "inspirational element" thing is the hardest one to judge. If it's RIGHT THERE in the first fifteen pages, it usually feels like it's going to be overwhelming. If it's barely hinted at, it feels like there isn't going to be much of one (if any at all). That's, of course, where the synopsis comes in handy. But how do you get that across in a 1-page synopsis???

Krista Phillips said...

Kaye, you are so right! Constructive criticism is worth much more than positive feedback, although the positive stuff makes the negative easier to swallow, and I do think it's helpful to know where you are succeeding as well.

I'm currently working on my Inspirational elements post. Stay tuned:-)

Krista Phillips said...

Tiffany, SO glad you made it!! I know, I finally downloaded Firefox because IE was not letting me see half the blogs I usually visit! I think they have it fixed now though, WOOHOO.

Gwen, thanks for stopping by! I feel exactly the same way, I love hearing about others on the journey, and the feedback they receive. SO many times I'm like, OH MY GOSH I DO that! And am a better writer for it:-)

Jessica, GMC is obviously a huge place I need to work on for all three of my books! It will be my focus the next few months as I prepare for ACFW.

Valerie said...

I must have had the same ALL CAP judge you did! But this one?

• Opening with a line of dialogue isn’t enough to hook the reader

Seriously? I don't think that can be said across the board. First lines are a bear, no matter what, but I've seen dialogue used effectively a lot of times.

Hmm.