Ever wonder...

>> Saturday, February 10, 2007

...how objective you are about your own work?

Magical Musings has a guest agent blogging this week, Lucienne Diver of The Spectrum Literary Agency. Today, she spoke about what sets manuscripts apart. And as I read the list and the expanded description of the elements, I thought...Yeah, I do that.

Lucienne writes:
Quirks: Your characters should live and breathe for you...

Check.

Voice: Your viewpoint character is the lens though which the reader sees the world...

Check.

Emotional connection: ...you’re best bet is to give us characters we can identify with and make the stakes personal enough so that we can’t stop turning the pages to find out what happens to them...

Check.

Background: Remember that a person is shaped by his or her background and build your characters accordingly...

Check.

Caveats: Your characters should become so real that they surprise you, but you still have to wrest back the story from them if they get carried away...

Check.

Okay, then why haven't I sold? Maybe I'm not as accurate about my work as I thought. Maybe I'm interpreting the description wrong.

Writer's Digest had an article some months ago--a list of ten things amateur writers do that keep them from getting published. I read all ten and cleverly told my husband that I don't do any of them.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"Yes, I'm sure." How could he even ask? I was indignant, then quickly backed up my own insecurities with, "I read them all. I'm cognizant of them when I write. I avoid those mistakes with everything I write."

A year later, I don't have any doubt that I'm a better writer. I'm also a better self-editor. How much of a better writer and/or self-editor remains to be determined by others more qualified than myself--those editors I wonder if I'm understanding adequately.

Do you think you objectively judge your work? If yes, how? If no, do you think it's possible? A skill one could learn?

7 comments:

Elisa 10:45 AM  

I try to. I've gotten to the point that I can recognize a lot of the weak points in my writing. Conflict is a big thing for me. I don't often have enough, but I'm learning to add that in if the story needs it.

I find that if I set a completed ms aside for a few months, I can be much more objective about it when it comes to revisions. At that point, I've aleady moved on to something else, so I've distanced myself from the older work. It doesn't feel so much like mine anymore, so changes are easier to make.

Elisabeth Naughton 5:10 PM  

Nope. Not objective at all. I think everything I write is crap. When someone tells me it's good. I'm shocked. The flip side is usually once I think something's good, it's usually crap. ;)

Joan Swan 7:09 PM  

LOL, E. Then it's good you've got me to look at it, because nothing your write is crap!

Joan Swan 7:12 PM  

Elisa,

I too know some of my weak spots and adjust for those. Yet, overall, I can't seem to step far enough away to evaluate things like pacing or commercial quality or originality.

Guess it will come with time.

Michelle 8:22 AM  

Joan, that's why I think honest CPs are like gold. Often, I think I'm putting something across, but because it is so clear in my mind, I'm assuming too much.

Elisabeth Naughton 11:04 AM  

Aw, thanks, J. You're sweet. You are the gold CP Michelle mentioned. How on earth would I have figured out chapter one of this darn MS without you???? (BTW...your suggestions were great.)

Joan Swan 11:34 AM  

Michelle,

Funny, I typically assume too little--try to tell too much. I constantly have to remember to give my reader more credit. :-)

Thanks, E. We're gold pair, I guess. :-) Glad the suggestions helped -- trade off for how much you've helped me through Safe!!

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