Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Get It. I Totally Get It. (Oh and Winners Announced)

First I want to say THANK YOU to all my awesome new followers! I'm so glad you found me here and look forward to getting to know all of you better!

Second I want to tell you how brave each and every one of you are. It's not easy to let anyone crit your work, let alone a stranger. Thank you for trusting me and I hope I was able to give you something useful to apply to your manuscripts! Each of you are clearly talented writers who will go far.

There's something really important I learned in this process. Wanna know what it is?

I'm gonna tell you anyway.

But first, a quick story....

I started critting the 150 words on a Saturday afternoon. And because I'm kinda, sorta, maybe a little OCD, I did them in order. It was obvious that there was a lot of talent in the bunch. But every crit I did I kept going back to the very first story. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I'd read another story, crit it, then go back to that first one. I'd read the authors words, then my own. Then I started pacing. And, whenever I got the chance, I would yak on and on about it to anyone who would listen to me. I couldn't get it out of my head.

When I finished with all the samples, I went back to that very first story. I couldn't stand it anymore so I emailed the author and asked for the first chapter. I just HAD to know what was going to happen in that story. Srsly, it was all I could think about. The author sent me the first chapter and I was even more intruiged. I wanted the WHOLE manuscript.

Here's the author, Taryn's, revised submission based on my feedback:

The Sour Patch Kids in the bottom of Heidi Maverick’s sparkly clutch probably bothered him the most.

The Sour Patch Kids, or the ticket stub from that new boy band’s concert.

The Sour Patch Kids, or the ticket stub, or the cotton candy flavored lip gloss.

As he dug deeper into the purse, those random bits of garbage tickled his hands with worry. He thought he’d picked the right girl this time. From afar, this Heidi had looked like a high school upperclassman, slutty and desperate—just the kind of girl he usually took. He had even chatted her up to make sure her family wouldn’t come looking; sure enough, her parents were another dead-beat dad and overworked mom. Looked good and normal. Most importantly, profitable. So, he signaled to his partner and spiked her drink.


There were many reasons that I adored these first 150 words.
From the start, the voice is solid. And it's unique, but not so different that I couldn't connect. In fact, I kinda, sorta liked the slimebag. So win #1 for Taryn.
The next thing that I picked up on was the bit of mystery - what else did he find in the purse? why was he going through her purse? what was he going to do to her? and why? I JUST HAD TO KNOW! Score #2.
Quite frankly, I didn't need another reason after that. Those two things were enough. GOAL Taryn!

Here's the weird thing. This isn't a story I would normally choose to read. But that suddenly didn't matter. At all.

Okay - so back to my point. I learned something really valuable from this experience. On a very small scale, I could understand how agents/editors feel when they read our queries and sample pages. Every submission I read was GREAT writing. They were all intriguing. But this story I could NOT get out of my head no matter how hard I tried.

And I imagine that's the same thing that happens to agents/editors. They see lots of great writing everyday. Stuff that might be perfect for someone else - but just doesn't resonante with them for some reason or another. But when that one story comes along that they can't forget, it's like a drug. You have to have more!

So the next time an agent/editor says, "You are a good writer, I just didn't fall in love with your story." Believe them. It means exactly that. It honestly doesn't mean anything else.


Now, for those of you who have skipped reading this post just to scroll down to the bottom to see the winners - well, you're in luck!

Here they are:

#1 - KRIS
#2 - RACHEL
#3 - BETHANY
#4 - PAM

And the existing follower whose pitch I LOVED is ANGIE! I'd love to see the first page (not just 150 words)!

Email me at Amiegr8tstuff (at) aol (dot) com to claim your prize. Please list your prize preferences, from greatest to least, so I can try to make sure everyone gets something they'll be happy with :)


21 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Love this post, Amie! It's so true. I've read books I really liked, but if I was an agent I wouldn't rep them. Why? Because I didn't love the book enough to read it again. I enjoyed it the first time but knew it wouldn't have the same magic the next time. Meanwhile, someone else has gushed on their blog that they absolutely LOVED the book. If they were an agent, they would definitely rep it.

Christine Danek said...

I knew this had to be true. Thanks so much for this post. It puts a lot in perspective. I absolutely love certain books and other, meh. So, I guess, right place, right person.
Great excerpt, great contest. Congrats to the winners.

Angela Felsted said...

Congratulations winners!

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats to the winners! And, thanks again, Amie, for taking the time to read our 150 words. :)

hopejunkie said...

Thanks so much, Amie! I'm still super flattered . . . not even sure what to say! Glad you enjoyed it :)

Lindsey Edwards said...

WoW, that story really IS intriguing Amie! No wonder you couldn’t get it out of your head. Congrats to the winners and thanks again for your crit of my 150 words!

Angie said...

Woohoo! Thanks. =) I've been looking for first page critiques this week, so fabulous.

I love Taryn's entry too! So intriguing.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I'm so glad you shared all this! What an insightful and thought-provoking post. I feel inspired to get back to writing!!

And, congrats to all the winners!

Kindros said...

Great tips and congrats to the winners. :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

Congrats to the winners! And thanks again for your crit. :)

Bethany Mattingly said...

Ahhh! That's my name :D Thanks! I'm emailing you right now! (Well, not right this second...) I like the way you worded it, how some things really stand out to you and others are good, they just don't...sparkle. I loved Taryn's too. The sour patch kids really stuck with me.

Janet Johnson said...

So interesting to hear your perspective on this! Great post . . . and congrats on the 150+ lots more now followers. :)

Kris said...

Amie's crit of my opening page was great--that was a prize itself! And I won another prize. Thank you!!!

Rose Cooper said...

What a great post, Amie! And a great lesson learned. I can see what you mean.

Congrats to the winners!

Ciara said...

I love this post, Amie. It is so true. Congratulations to all the winners!

Lydia K said...

Congrats to the winners, and thanks for a great post!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

FABULOUS first page! Me want more, too. Is it sold? Will it be a book?
Tell, tell! :-)

Kittie Howard said...

Love it! The beauty in the reader's eye sways the day.

Lindsey Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lindsey Edwards said...

Just a quick note to say: You have an award waiting for you at my blog, The Write Words!

HowLynnTime said...

I agree with it. I have stalked so many blogs that had samples and before I had a blog myself would read scores of first pages from bloggy events. I found that so much of the writing was perfect - but I couldn't care less about reading it. Agenting would have to be very hard - I could not say - Your perfect but I don't care, without telling them why - which would open me up to be the agent - Simon LaGree!

I could deal with Simon - but others are Much more fragile. To me red ink is love - praise is just polite kindness.

You have this wonderful balance of spot on comment, humor and kindness - Thanks again and I agree - the gum wrapper is stuck...lol