1). No backstory in the first 30 pages
2). One protagonist, please. No more.
When I got my revision letter from my editor, he noted that chapter two seemed “to drag.”
I went to the Don Maass intensive, and he told us to highlight everything in our first 30 pages that qualified as backstory. Guess where all mine was? You bet, chapter two. So I cut it all out, and ta da! No more dragging. And I didn’t have to lose the cut material, I simply placed it in a later chapter where it did more good. The object up front is to involve the reader, not explain everything.
My editor also pointed out that I had gotten so caught up in my ensemble cast, trying to keep things “even” that I was repeating myself and becoming predictable (heavens! I’m violating my own motto!). I had written five character invitations, five character dreams, five character refusals, etc. I quickly realized that many of those entire scenes needed to be left behind on the cutting room floor–and you’ll actually find them on my web page, if anyone cares enough to see what got left behind.
The characters in this story earn their way through college by selling a little book. I had placed the text of the book within “Uncharted,” but my editor suggested that I leave it out. So that, too, is on the web page–a little bonus for readers who liked the story, but not so much that it bogs the story down.
By the time the editing was finished (I also remember going through and changing it from present tense to past), Uncharted was a much stronger book. This is why we rise up and call our editors blessed.
Tomorrow: the results/reader reaction (I only hope there is some! The book is scheduled to be rolling off the presses as I type . . . if there is no reader reaction to report, I’ll improvise. 🙂 )
Cruise update: Wow. We are sailing to Whittier, AK, today, and will head to Anchorage and our flight home tomorrow night. I can only say that this has been wonderful and coming back to reality will be . . . different. I love being home, but this has been wonderful. It’s as if time has stopped and we’ve all been turned into princes and princesses for a week. And the food! Groan. It’s everything you’ve heard and more. And there’s so much of it . . .
I will need to go on a vegetables-and-water diet for at least a month. Lisa Samson, move over on the vegan bus. 🙂
More later . . . along with pictures!