"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One of these days I will talk about writing

OK, why not today for just a bit?

Yesterday I received a great critique on the first 30 pages of my WIP. There was a chapter ending on page 29, and I included the first page of the next chapter as the 30th page. Along with tons of great feedback, the best compliment I got was that the critiquer was mad when it ended right there because they wanted to read on. This is a good thing.

My WIP is first person present tense...except for the first sentence which is first person past tense. Yes, I know—this doesn't work. (I can hear my critique group snickering even as we speak).
I know this doesn't work. My critique group knows it. My critiquer knows it. But everyone agrees the first line shouldn't just be cut. It's just too awesome and really does compel the reader to want to turn the page.
So instead, my current plan is this. Divide the manuscript into sections (not sure how many yet—I'll have to analyze it), and at the beginning of each section have one of these "past tense" lines to thus make it seemed like a planned thing.

Laughing as during my critique, both I and the critiquer said "kill your darlings" at the same time. But right now it's not going to happen. I don't feel like it's the right choice.

Alternatively, I could always rewrite the entire MS in first person past tense to match the first line.
Um, OK, that's not going to happen. I started writing the MS in first person past but kept slipping into present. And to me present totally feels right.

In other brief news for the day:

*** CONGRATULATIONS to critique partner Chris M. for an offer for her fantastic manuscript! This was the first thing she ran through the critique group when we first formed, and I love it! The characters feel so real, and I can't wait to purchase this wonderful book! Yay, Chris! If you get a chance, pop over and offer her a congratulations! This is a huge deal!

*** I finished The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray. Really, I think it's the perfect ending to the trilogy. I have to admit, I was entirely curious to see how she'd wrap everything up. I still haven't made it to the bookstore to buy Valiant by Holly Black, so I'm sticking with The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale for now.

*** The Emerald Tablet has a wonderful review up over at Balanced Steps. Thanks, Brianna, for the great review! And Brianna is happy to receive review copies of books, so if you're an author and interested, drop her a line!
It's a fun activity to pick the best lines from reviews. Here's mine for this one:
"Anyone who enjoyed discovering the world of magic with Harry Potter will enjoy diving into a different magical world with Benjamin Holt and his friends...for you Potter fans, the experience is TOTALLY different from Harry's".

*** Flyers have been mailed for the release party. Everyone is invited, so if you don't get one, consider this your official invitation!
October 26th
Sunday, 4:00pm


Gottawrite Girl said...

PJ, that's gotta be the best compliment ever, that there was no more to read! And, I think about that comment "kill your darlings," too... Steven King mentions it in On Writing. It's the hardest thing, especially when a story's been inside you for many years. Objectivity can be elusive!

PJ Hoover said...

It was great, Susan! And on a positive note, on the kill your darling comment, the critiquer said "but I'm not sure you should in this case" which made me feel better about it!
See ya!

carla said...

loved briannas post!

PJ Hoover said...

Carla, I LOVED Brianna's review! It was perfect! Thanks for the recommendation :)

C.R. Evers said...

I just picked up the first book in the Libba Bray series. I'm excited to read it, but since I'm attempting Nano this year, so I may not get to finish it until after November. I'm looking forward to it.

Sounds like you have an awesome critique group!


PJ Hoover said...

The Libba Bray books are super well written, Christy. I hope you like them! She does an amazing job of show don't tell.
And yes, my critique group is fabulous!

Jason said...

Man, this book sounds so cool. Stop teasing!

But seriously, that's gotta be cool to be getting so many good reviews.

Ooh, killing your darlings. I have a hard time doing that. But, it sounds like if you throw in one past tense sentence at the beginning it will make it work really well.

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Jason! It is fun getting good reviews. It certainly makes for a nice day.
I'll try the past tense thing tonight when I start revising again!
See ya!

keri mikulski :) said...

Great stuff, PJ.. I've heard great things about Libba Bray's work. BTW, I'll be in Texas for a book signing the weekend of November 7th. I was hoping your book party was the same time. I would love to go. :)

Christine M said...

Tricia - what a great compliment to your manuscript (but I'm not at all surprised) - and that's a neat idea - to start each section with a past tense line. Good thinking.

And thanks for the congratulations and the link. :)

Sheri said...

OMG! Anytime they have a line in your review comparing your book to HP in a good way, is a fantastic, marvelous thing! YAY!!!!!!

Now, about your WIP and the first line being in past tense. Why not just put that first line, in italics, on its very own page. Then turn the page and begin the story in present tense? Then it functions sort of like a prologue, is separate from the structure of the story, and can stand on its own in past tense. I think that could work nicely.

Lapillus said...

What a great review comment! Definitely awesome to have any kind of comparison to HP!

Amy said...

Don't sweat that line. I think offsetting it or running it at the beginning of each chapter is the PERFECT solution. If the line needs to be there, it needs to be there, ya know?

PJ Hoover said...

Where in Texas, Keri? Anywhere close to Austin? Please let me know! And yes, read Libba Bray! Very good books!

You're welcome, Chris! I get to submit next week to the group, so I better get on revisions for the WIP so you can let me know what you think!

Totally agree on the HP, Sheri. Is there a bad comparison to HP? OK, I'm sure there is, but we just won't go there.
I thought about the whole separate page thing for the WIP, Sheri, but I really want the line to be considered the "famous first line". It is the draw. The reason to read on.
Past, present...does it matter anyway :)
Thank you so much for the suggestions! I really appreciate it!

Totally agree, Casey! Especially a good comparison to HP!

I know, Amy! But trust me when I say I'm happy to hear other people say it to. I think it will work! So it has to work!

Thanks for visiting, everyone!

Jim Danielson said...

It's tough to "kill your darlings". I had to do just that this morning and at the very first page of the MS. It was a great paragraph that just didn't quite fit. Okay, maybe it was just good, but you know what I mean....

PJ Hoover said...

I'm sure it was great, Jim! You have to believe your own stuff is great, right? OK, maybe that's just me :)

Carrie Harris said...

Heh. I've been struggling with a kill your darlings moment myself. But then I started to think... rules are made to be broken, right?

Right? Please? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

keri mikulski :) said...

Hey, PJ! I'll be near Houston, I think.. I'll keep you posted. My publisher will be in touch in the next few days with the itinerary. :) I'm so excited.

beth said...

I'm re-reading A Great and Terrible Beauty now...

I was just thinking about first lines today :) I have one work that, like you, I just can't imagine killing that first line. And I have another that I just can't seem to find the perfect first line! How we writers struggle!!!

PJ Hoover said...

Yes, Carrie! Rules should be broken. Rules should be broken. Say it over and over until you're sure of it.

I bet you're thrilled, Keri! Should be warmer in Houston than NJ!

So glad I'm not alone in this first line nonsense, Beth!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Anna Lefler said...

Congrats on the great review and on the super-positive comments from your editor! Woot!

Ah, yes. "Kill your darlings." The agony. I can relate...

:^) Anna

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Anna! Why is the line "kill your darlings" so perfect.
I'm going to start my next book with just that line :)