The Craft of Writing—Be Careful What You Hang on You Christmas Tree

I got some feedback from agents who requested the full and charity auctions where agents gave me feedback on the partial. Several mentioned needing to hone my craft more.

Step one–how do I do that?

I had no clue. I already studied NYT bestsellers and author’s first novels. I devoured YA books. I read books on the craft of writing. But somehow I was missing something. Crap.

Then I joined CTRWA and heard about a craft workshop by Margie Lawson. I took down three people in my rush to sign up. (Kidding it was an on-line signup)

During Margie’s session, all the feedback I’d gotten began to make sense. No joke. I heard the words. Read them ten times but couldn’t quite figure out how to fix it.

Cliches–wow. Now I saw them all. Imagine 200 ugly cheap ornaments on your tree.

Then body language, I used simple things like she smiled/grinned/frowned. Never trying to take it to the next level. Oopsy. That’s like stringing lights where each strand has a couple broken lights. Sometimes simple works but not all the time.

Passive language? Guilty. I had several variations of to be that could be removed. Think of grouping ten balls in the same section of the tree. BORING.

Huge chunks of  unnecessary narrative/exposition? *Hangs head in shame* The entire top of the tree is covered in Care Bear ornaments. Nothing but Care Bear ornaments.

On the upside all feedback points to the premise being good. So I’m going to download Margie’s lecture packet on Body Language and Dialogue Cues and learn more on craft. I can’t believe what a giant leap my manuscript took in the past few weeks since her talk.

This is probably the only profession where you get continually better over time. I’m excited to see how much more I can improve the manuscript.

Are you struggling to see what people tell you in feedback? Have you had an “A-HA” moment where you suddenly saw what needed fixing in your manuscript?

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8 Responses to The Craft of Writing—Be Careful What You Hang on You Christmas Tree

  1. Megan Ingram says:

    I don’t know about an A-HA moment (“Take On Me” is now stuck in my head, thank you very much 😉 ), but I once went back and counted how many times my characters shrugged in my manuscript. I’m surprised the world didn’t quake with all those shoulders rising and falling in apathetic gesture.

    • LOL. That’s an A-HA moment. Everyone sighed so much in mine. The buildings should have blown over. BTW, loved that video–still read comics hoping some gorgeous guy with come through the panel. ;P

  2. Lucas says:

    I loved the comparisons to the decorations on the tree. Your writing always makes me titter.

  3. Gail Chianese says:

    Kourtney, great post, and we love having you with us at CTRWA!

    Yes, I’ve had those moments. The first time I was at RWA Nationals listing to Angela Knight and it hit me, this huge mistake I had committed in timing events.

    The next one came at the ML workshop. Power words – missed opportunities. Body language – boring. Dialogue cues – you mean you can use more than he said, she said! So much learned in that one day, which is why I haven’t sent you my pages to read yet. =0)

    I plan to take more of her classes and look forward to more A-ha moments.

    • Thanks! It’s a great group of very talented people. 🙂

      ML really hit on things I hadn’t read in books on writing. Maybe it was the perspective she brought to it or the way she explained it, but I just got it. Now I’ve got a lot of fixin’ to do!
      Looking forward to reading your pages in January!

  4. berry says:

    I get that in my life. The light just goes on. When I dabbled in writing I would get those epiphanies. Great feeling.

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