Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Chapter One’

As I’ve been creating mystery #3, taking place in mid-December New England, I discovered I was mixing up Colonial timelines and character names with the later Victorian architecture.

I had to make a decision so I could write the opening scene in the appropriate location.

Victorian period would allow the story to unfold in a beautifully appointed bed & breakfast, converted from a generations-old family home.

Colonial architecture would age the bed & breakfast, allowing centuries-old family history to filter into the story.

Earlier this week, my husband and I visited the Daniel Webster Estate in Marshfield, MA, to help narrow my choice. And yesterday, I stopped by the Society of Mayflower Descendants in Plymouth, MA, for a nice chat with the two women behind the desk and a man sitting at a research table.

In the end, because my fictional Harbor Falls series is located on the coast of Massachusetts, I settled on a Colonial backstory. Connections to the Mayflower pilgrims, a sad eighteenth century ghost, and parallels to current times will round out the main mystery plot with ghostly connections to my amateur sleuth’s personal subplot.

Such fun!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

ah-ha momentFor the past few years, I’ve listened to well-meaning comments from two writing groups, manuscript evaluators and uninterested agents. After a particularly brutal critique session this past weekend, my brain finally kicked and I experienced an “ah-ha moment”.

I had lost my title character.

A comment made several months ago at a mystery writers conference to “start with the body” sent me off on a major rewrite to move my chapter thirteen to page one. This forced me to re-introduce my potential suspects after the body dropped. What I sacrificed was providing my future readers with a sense of my characters as they responded to each other. Without real-time dialogue, the victim morphed into dreaded and story-slowing back story.

And so, last Saturday, as I drove home with my ego bruised and my head spinning, it occurred to me that all along I’ve been categorizing my story in the wrong genre. Since the first word was put to the page…or more accurately, onto the screen… I’ve considered it a mystery, but it doesn’t start out that way. It’s more accurately defined as perhaps ‘women’s fiction” that becomes a mystery with a dash of romance along the way. I’ve just found a blog called “Women Fiction Writers” and subscribed.

I’m no longer writing for some unknown agent or publisher with an unknown laundry list of what sort of story they are seeking at the moment. I am writing for myself. The story that has been in my head since the beginning has resurfaced and set me free. Will I self-publish? Most likely.

Are my instincts right? Who cares! All I know is that I’m reinvigorated about bringing my original concept to life on the page!

Read Full Post »

hands on keyboardThis past weekend, I attended Crime Bake in Dedham, MA. Sponsored by Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, this conference is always inspiring, but not without its disappointments to a budding author.

First, there was the ‘First Page Critique’ session after lunch on Saturday. When my first page was read, only one agent defended my efforts because she has seen my progress. But neither she nor the other four agents raised a hand to indicate they would read further.

Second, my pitch to an agent, hoping to hook her into asking for my first three chapters, fell on deaf ears. This could be my fault, because I decided to change my genre from mystery to romantic suspense after the pitch practice session on Friday night. I’m going back to mystery genre.

Third time was a charm! My manuscript evaluation was provided by Ray Daniel, a Boston author. He pointed out that although my writing is good, and my verbs are strong, I’m asking my reader to hang in with me for a third of the novel before we find out that there is a body. Over the months, I’ve changed my opening scene too many times to count, but Ray’s words made sense to me. I finally got it!

So I flew out of bed early on Sunday morning, rushed to my computer and opened a new file. I pulled Chapter 12 forward, did a bit of tweeking and printed off a new page one. When I arrived at the Dedham Hilton for the final day of the conference, I bumped into Ray within minutes and asked what he thought of the new first page. He gave it a thumbs up…yea!

My writing days will now include not only regular revision, but a re-sequencing of my chapters to move my suspects into the middle.

But, oh,  how exciting this is!

Read Full Post »

sketch of question personOK… so I’ve been wrestling with my opening chapter for what seems like forever. I’ve read many writing craft books. One craft book says the author can’t mess with normal until your reader knows what normal is.

And so I’ve arrived at a quandary… how do I hook my reader [and my first reader is an agent] with the inciting incident and show my main character’s normal life at the same time?

A while ago, I attended an event at a local library called Author Idol, where the 25 authors sitting in the audience had each submitted their anonymous first three pages. The four agents up on stage raised one hand when the reader came to a place where the agent would reject the manuscript. Two agents’ hands in the air signaled the reader to stop. Would it surprise you to hear that most of us didn’t get past the first two paragraphs???

How scary is that???

How perfect does that opening have to be???

What happened to editors???

If an agent is not willing to read at least the first three pages, what hope do I have of ever getting published?

So it’s back to the drawing board. On Saturday, I’ll submit to my writing group yet another attempt at my opening. My fingers are crossed that I’m at least getting closer.

Read Full Post »

On Sunday, a writing friend in Niantic, CT, told me about a contest sponsored by “She Writes”. The contest is for un-published and agent-less authors, and the work can be either completed or in-progress. Sounds good to me!

Because my narrating session at Perkins was cancelled yesterday, I had extra time to whittle down my Chapter One to exactly 2000 words so it would qualify for the contest. Then I had to create a one-page cover letter with miniature synopsis, personal info and a photo.

Deadline is midnight tonight, so I’m preparing to submit this morning. They will choose five winners who will be hooked-up with an agent…wish me luck!

Read Full Post »