Posted August 22, 2010on:
There’s an old saying that great minds think alike.
While there is some truth in this (old sayings get old because there must be some truth in them, no?), I discovered yesterday that fresh points of view help you see things you never knew were there.
Twitter pal Jeannie (@Jeannienovels) invited me along to the Long Island Romance Writers meeting yesterday, where I got to finally meet her (yay!). I had no idea Long Island had a local chapter of the RWA (Romance Writers of America) and actually couldn’t sleep the night before, my excitement level was that high. GPS charged, I started out and naturally, got lost a time or four, but arrived only slight late for the 10 AM start. I met the wonderful Pam Burford (tweets as @pamelaburford), and a whole cast of authors whose WIPs range from medieval, historical, contemporary to YA. The group also ranged from multi-title publication credits to finishing the first novel. Some writers were even RITA finalists.
Whenever I meet genius, there is a split second where I wait for alarms to peal. “UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY! YOU ARE NOT WORTHY!” It didn’t happen at Paper Cone Stories in NYC last month and it didn’t happen yesterday, either. (There was just a hand clap there. I looked around to high five someone and had to do it myself.)
The people were friendly, supportive and so knowledgeable. Even though I’m not (YET!) a member, Pam invited me to bring some SEND pages to read aloud during the critique session. If you’re wondering, this was the cause of my insomnia. Read aloud? *gulp* My story? *shiver* In front of others? *heartstops* But, I did it! And, the world did not end. Simon Cowell did not appear from behind the potted plants and say, “That was the worst drivel I have ever heard and I can only thank God you didn’t attempt to SING it.”
Even better? Two of the members suggested changing the opening hook (“God must have been bullied as a kid.”) Great line, they said, but could put some readers off. They also pointed out that I’d inadvertently named one character after someone famous. (Famous to all but me, it seems.) A school teacher and librarian each said my story about cyber-bullying and sexting would be DEVOURED by their kids, who are sick of vampires, werewolves, angels, demons and zombies.
*pumps fist* Woo hoo!
I got to hear their stories, too. So much talent in one room. It was rather astounding for me to hear the differences in our voices, our styles. After the critique, Pam led us in an Opening Hook seminar that was very enlightening and helped me understand why so many agents will request only the first few pages of a MS. We examined some famous opening hooks. “Where is Papa going with that ax?” (Charlotte’s Web) What’s your favorite opening line?
I learned a lot yesterday and definitely plan on joining the group. Pam encouraged us all to read everything, not just romance. I admit, I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of reading outside my genre and it’s exposing me to techniques I’m using in my own work. Jeff Somers’ Avery Cates series is, trust me, the furthest thing from romance there is. He is brilliant at writing action. I’ve got a few fight scenes in SEND and have been studying Jeff’s techniques to see how I might achieve similar results. Speaking of which… er… um… as a woman writing an 18-year-old male… I have this, um, gap in my, uh, experience. Can someone describe what it feels like to be kicked in the, uh, NUTS? *tomato red blush*