Over the years I’ve spent a great deal of time fretting about how to move my writing to the next level. I usually attempt to do this by taking a class which will address a specific problem area or with focused reading. I don’t recall ever knowing the exact moment when the jump to the next level occurred. That was, until ten days ago during a query critique at NE SCBWI.
Deep in my gut I might have suspected how I could strengthen my writing. And I did have specific questions I wanted to ask during my critique. But it still surprised me how the answer hit home and effected how I looked at my writing.
First off, my query (and first pages) got very little criticism from the agent (or editor), almost none. But they didn’t recieve an ecstatic reaction either. This gave me the guts to ask my question—and, seriously, as silly as it sounds it took guts.
I think I know what the hook is which makes this manuscript unique and marketable, but I’m not sure if I’m right. What do you think? Then I told him the hook.
I got an ecstatic ‘I could sell that’ reaction to the hook. This reaction was a huge boost to my self-confidence. I knew what was wrong with my pages(and manuscript) and query. I knew how to fix it and-- if the hook doesn’t fly in this novel—I know how to make the next novel marketable even in these tough times. What hit home and jumped my writing to the next level was a new awareness of how pov choice and writing what you know can combine to create marketability. Of couse knowing doesn't mean I'll succeed, but I have the tools.
Also I realized I could enjoy writing something other than fantasy, that I shouldn’t shut the door to something I hadn’t given a fair chance to.
How do you work toward taking your writing to the next level?
Have you had any eye opening writing experiences lately?