You might be sick of reading about my numerous critique experiences. I know I’m tired of rewriting the manuscript.
Remember I mentioned rewriting the first pages of this manuscript. That rewrite was for a class given by Kristen Lamb.
If you don’t follow her blog, I suggest you follow this link and sign up. If you need to learn about craft or building an author platform, I suggest her classes and her book, Rise of the Machine-Human Authors in a Digital World.
Having met Kristen’s red pen before, I expected a good ripping from her. Good thing I had that sand-papery experience with Ms. Hughes to toughen my sensitive writer’s psyche, right? And don’t forget my friend Becky lambasting what I considered a polished manuscript.
First of all, Kristen called me on the phone to talk about my initial beginning. “Too much telling. Show me how crappy her life is” was the gist of that conversation.
Immediately, I sat down and cranked out a new beginning. I let it sit overnight and then reread it. Not quite where I wanted it to be, so I tweaked it and completely junked the first sentence. After one more go-through, I sent it off to Jedi Master Lamb.
Her response: “Here you go. Much better but watch the 1) odd sentence construction 2) too much physiology and 3) brain-holding.”
You know what rocked me the most about this short and sweet statement? She mentioned the odd sentence construction which was something Alex Hughes also noted. My. Sentences. Suck.
Epiphany: No matter what you think about your sentences, Shari, they are constructed in a way that obscures your meaning.
Time to stop trying to write with variety and just put the words down on the page. Say what you mean to say, Shari. Nothing more. Nothing less. And certainly nothing fancy.
If you’ve taken many creative writing classes, perhaps you have a voice in your head that says “Another subject-verb-object construction? Boring!” According to the professionals who critiqued my manuscript, I need to duct tape this person’s mouth closed and throw her in the basement with my inner editor.
On to number two. What does she mean about “physiology”? Do I have too much heart-pounding? I know there were a few areas where Alex said “choose one” about physical responses. I think Master Lamb is nailing me for the same thing.
Less heart pounding for the character and more for the reader. Got it.
“Brain-holding” stumped me. Given the context, it is obviously something in my writing style. Is she talking about over-explaining? Or am I spending too much time inside the character’s mind? I don’t know.
What do you think? I know you didn’t get to read the pages, but since she didn’t mark them so I knew where I was doing the “brain-holding” I don’t know if seeing them would help.
What is brain-holding in regards to a manuscript? Do you have problems with any of these three areas? How do you improve going forward when someone has pointed out shortfalls in your writing?