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Posts Tagged ‘First Three Pages’

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!

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Hollihock headerNext weekend, I’ll be attending the second annual Hollihock Writers Conference in New Bedford, MA. They are offering multitudes of classes, panels, and speakers throughout the 3-days.

This is a new conference as you can tell by the title. I found out about it this past spring at a Writers Retreat on Cape Cod. One of the other writers… Diana Grady from Buzzards Bay Writing Project… mentioned this conference because she thought I’d be interested. Diana will be leading one of the workshops.

Learning new tips and tricks about the process of creating fiction is not only a pleasure, but keeps my retired brain active and alert. There is always something to be gleaned from every class, every speaker, every panel participant.

If you live in southern New England, and haven’t yet signed up, the ‘REGISTER HERE’ button on their website still appears to be active, so what are you waiting for?

http://www.hollihock.org/

 

 

 

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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.

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One of the organizations I belong to… “Sisters in Crime”, is co-hostessing an event with “Mystery Writers of America” this coming Wednesday called “Author Idol”  The three agents on the panel will provide feedback on what makes them stop reading a manuscript submitted for consideration. Here’s how it’s going to work:

…each author who wants to participate will place the first three pages of their novel in a box

…a ‘reader’ will randomly select one of the stories, and begin reading

…when any of the three agents hears something that would make them put the manuscript aside, they will ring their bell. The reader continues the story.

…a bell ringing from a second agent halts the reading

…the agents will then share with the audience the why behind their decision to place the manuscript in the rejection pile.

This exercise is going to prove very useful to every author in the audience, whether they submitted three pages for the event or not. It should certainly help all of us hone those opening pages to hook an agent or publisher into reading further.

I’m really looking forward to attending!

 

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