Friday, April 3, 2009

Amazon, Rejection and Editing

So I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I wrote my entire entry in less than a month, because I had a plot bouncing around in my head that was fun and would need little research. When I entered it, I knew it was a little rough but it was a great story and turned out really well.

If you don't know already, I was kicked out during the first round. Ugh. Yesterday I got the reviews and was surprised. Apparently, they liked the story too. The problem was that it wasn't clean copy. So guess what I'm doing this summer. Working on editing, line by line.

I don't know if there is any other way. With my last submission I put it through two writers groups, read it at least ten times and still missed a comma or two. That is something I really need to take more seriously because I know clean copy makes a huge difference.

If your interested, here's what the reviewers said:

Reviewer #1-

I feel like this could be a good story. The plot is interesting, and the pacing is good. I don't feel bogged down with descriptions or a big set-up that just goes on and on.

However, the writing isn't fantastic. There are a few odd word choices - "straddled" where I think the author means "saddled" and a "that" where I think it needs to be a "who", and several places that I would change the sentence structure to feel more natural. There are many unclear antecedents. Several sentences need either another word or a comma, or need to be split up. I mention this only because a well-written story is much easier to stay "lost in." Bad grammar and odd word structure pulls me out, as I start editing rather than reading.

Aside from the errors, it all just feels like it needed one more read-through to polish it up before it was submitted. There's a slight stilted feel to some of the conversations; a need for more contractions or a feel for how people really speak.

I would imagine that some of this could be fixed with a good editor, but I also feel that submissions should be as good as can be if someone's trying to win an award.

With some grammatical help, though, I think the story could be a good one. It's interesting, moves well, and has potential.

Reviewer #2-

This seems to be the beginning of a political/legal thriller. The writer has established some interesting characters, given them some background through the use of a prologue and gotten the action and mystery off to a good start in this brief excerpt. There has been so much action in these few pages that it is a bit confusing at this point but that will most likely be resolved in the next few pages.

The writer has done a very good job with these beginning pages, if the rest of the novel continues in this vein this should be a very exciting novel.


Katrina said...

Oh good! Thanks for posting what they wrote because I am always curious what is meant by "clean copy." I have been told I comma-splice and I'm still not sure what that means!

Rebecca Talley said...

Good for you getting your work out there on Amazon. You go, girl!

And, I'm sure we can all use help writing "clean" copy.