Scrivener Webinar and 5 features I’ll use

I’ve been using Scrivener since early 2016. Back then, I had been unsatisfied with the regular “word files plus project folder” – setup for my writing projects. It just took to long to organize research, pictures or backmatter. Even with the help of bookmarks and Pinterest, it was still a pain to find stuff again that I knew I had already looked up and saved somewhere. So, I gave Scrivener a try and have not looked back since.

But, just as it is often the case with any given application, I don’t use the tool the full extent of its capabilities. There are always some special tricks, features and hidden functionalities I never needed or just don’t know about.

When I stumbled over SCBWI_Dakotas chapter’s webinar on Scrivener, I signed up, positive I’d learn something new. I wasn’t disappointed. (check out their chapter website here – there’re more webinars to come.)

1) Split Document with ⌘K

When importing an already full or partially written manuscript (e.g. from MSword) to Scrivener, I’ve always assumed I had to specially format the original file with parseable identifiers and import using these to get one text documents per chapter in Scrivener.

Turns out, there’s an easier way: Import the whole text. In the text, click where you want your new chapter to start. Press ⌘K and voilá! Scrivener divides the document into two at this point.

2) Colour code documents and folders in the binder

I had used labels in Scrivener before but these only always showed up as a smallish ribbon on the folder card or notecard when the corkboard view was active. But when I’m actually writing and not outlining anymore,  I rarely use the corkboard view.

Turns out, there’s a way to show the label colour in the binder. In the menu go to the View tab. In the fifth section, you’ll find the submenu “Use label colour in….” Check binder here and say hello to a colourful binder!

3) Drag and drop matter from outside the application directly to Scrivener

It’s not that I’ve never used drag&drop across application before – I just wasn’t aware it would work with Scrivener, too and used the import function in the file menu.

Instead, it’s just as easy as you might imagine. Just plug any other document, URL or item directly to the place in the binder where you need it.

4) Compare snapshots of your documents

I already use snapshots. A lot! As in ten plus snapshots for certain scenes and I’m not even in the revision process. I just tend to rewrite often. It’s a stupid habit, I know, but well… *shrug*

Whenever I notice I’ve changed some phrase or sentence and want back the former version, I’d select the old snapshot and scroll until I’d find it.

Turns out, there’s a compare button. I’ve no idea why I ignored it so long without even trying it once. Now I know better.

5) Session and Manuscript targets

If only I had known this last November and keeping track of my progress during NaNoWriMo would have been a lot easier. There’s even a “allow negatives” checkbox.

Well, NaNoWriMo is done but I’ll make use of this feature anyway. Part of my goals for 2018 is to keep track of my progress in more detail – not only the time spent writing but the actual output, too. I believe I’ll get more done if I keep myself accountable. This is going to be easier now. Yay!

What else was new?

The webinar reminded me of the “composition mode.” I’ve used that before, too, but not as often as it would make sense. I’m planning on spending more time writing in this distraction-free mode.

Last but not least, I’ve learned there’s a new Scrivener version. I’ll have to check that out! Who knows what else I’m missing otherwise.

What about you? Do you (still) use MSWord or something else? Let me know!

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7 things done, 7 things to do

If you believe the multiple motivational posts flooding the social media feeds in the early days of the year, one only has to dream big and fantastic success will come forth. Neat, eh? But it’s not all that easy. Even good intentions derived from the Big Dream won’t take you anywhere soon if you only dream them up but fail to follow up.

So, before I go ahead and think about what to strive for in 2018, let’s see what I did in 2017, concerning my journey as a writer. What did I do that I am proud of? Here’s a short list of my favourite personal achievements in 2017.

  1. I’ve routinely joined the #5amwritersclub. Getting up early, about 4:30am, yielded me a sizeable amount of time to write; time I was lacking the years ago. I developed the habit back in late 2016, but in the last year I was more often successful in banishing my “inneren Schweinehund” and conquer my sleep-deprived-weaker self. Not every day, but consistently enough.
  2. I wrote, finished and submitted a short story to a contest. That was a first for me. Nothing came off it, but it was an interesting experience. I also wrote my first poem in English, and for good measure, I submitted it to three contests.
  3. I’ve attended eight meetings of the Germany/Austria chapter of SCBWI – a group of fellow writers who never cease to motivate me, went to Frankfurt Book Fair and the book launch of fabulous Melinda Salisbury.
  4. I put down the WIP I was working on all through 2016/2017. A hard decision at the time, but the right one. I’m glad I set the story aside (for the time being). This left me free to launch my current WIP, a story I’m much more comfortable with, given my skill level. I’ve worked on this new project for about 8 months now, and the manuscript is already further developed than the old WIP ever was.
  5. I wrote ten blogposts (meh, too few), with the post about my take on DC’s Wonder Woman story structure and character arch being the most read.
  6. I attended 6 webinars (4 via SCBWI, 2 via other hosts/websites). Not all were equally helpful. I posted about the take-away-points of one already and a recap for a “A place in fiction” is scheduled for the end of the month.
  7. I won NaNoWriMo, though I worked with my current WIP instead of a new project.

This being said, let me see what I’d like to do in 2018, besides reaching for the stars, that is.

  1. I want to finish the first draft of my current WIP. Déjà-vu, eh? Well, I guess it’s a never-ending story. After the story is before the story or rather the main character is dead! Long live the main character.
  2. I want to read and write more poetry. I want to read more in general, especially books and texts that don’t belong in the “on the craft” category.
  3. My website needs some work. I want to update and/or change the about-me page and increase the number of blogposts.
  4. #3 will work fine with the plan to keep attending webinars and share my take-away-points afterwards. Same goes for blog posts on structure and character arch found in movies and from books.
  5. I started submitting smaller works in 2017 and want to keep that up. While I’m not ready to start submitting the book, I want to do so with poems and possibly short stories.
  6. I’ve decided to reduce the hours at my daily job to further increase my time writing. To use the won time effectively, I plan to hold myself accountable for the time spent actually writing. For that, I’ll keep using my bullet journal, tracking not only word count, but hours spent on the project, too.
  7. Last but not least: minimise procrastination. Ha! Yeah, right…. Twitter, Insta, Facebook… the lot keeps stealing my time. I’m still not sure how to tackle this, but I’ve got another year ahead to figure something out.

The most important item on the list is without a doubt #6. On multiple occasions I’ve read the sentence: If you want to be a successful author, you need to treat it like a proper job. Writing is work; hard one day and fun the next. I want to make the hours I got count.

What about you out there? What did you achieve last year, and where do you want to go in 2018? Whatever, wherever that is – I hope it’s going to be a fun ride.

New year, new goals.

Happy New Year to you, dear reader!
I hope you spent the last moments of 2017 and the first moments of 2018 with your loved ones and friends and had the most amazing time. I certainly did. Now, I am looking forward to 2018 for there are some changes ahead.

As the beginning of a new year usually prompts some resolutions and for me one of those for 2018 is to get my blogging routine up to a new level, here I am, posting the first of hopefully many entries on the very first day of the new year.
Fear not, however, I won’t bore you with a list of good intentions (just now). Instead, I’ll review the last “bucket list” I wrote – amazingly, this post dates back to December 2015 and was targeting my plans for 2016. Oops.

Back then, I came up with 8 points for me to strive for and I didn’t do so bad. Here’s the list again:

  1. Get a critique buddy.
  2. Check for German chapter of SCBWI – if there is one, sign up.
  3. Decide on the basic structural frame for WIP
  4. Find something else than MS word for a writing environment.
  5. Stop or at least minimise procrastination.
  6. Find a way to carve out daily writing hours.
  7. Write some more blog posts.
  8. Review this list at least once a month. Maybe the … 14th each month would be an idea and add all things that came up eventually.

So, I did quite well with items 1, 2, 4, and 6.
Yes, there is a SCBWI chapter here in Germany (it’s the Germany/Austria chapter, to be precise) and I’m lucky to have a group of ladies who meet up once a month in the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart, just an hour from home. They basically are my critique buddies now and the group has grown considerably during 2017. This is truly amazing and I very lucky to be part of it.
Yes, I did find something else than MS Word – I chose Scrivener in early 2016 and never looked back.
Yes, I did carve out writing hours, even if this turned out to be the hardest part of the game. Hello there, #5amwritersclub. If you are unfamiliar with the hashtag, I recommend you head over to twitter and see for yourself. Or better yet, join us!

For the other four items on the list however – it’s not so easily determined if I succeeded – in the best case, I’m still on it.
I obviously did not live up to item 8, given that I only just now review this list again…
I did not write as many blog posts as I was aiming for. If I reflect on it, I was probably buried in craft books and stepping up my game in the art of writing and did not feel I had much to say.
I did not stop procrastination. Not entirely. But, I am proud of the progress I made and I’m still working on avoiding distractions and better organisation. Some days that works better than other days – I’m sure it’s not only me who feels that way.

And the decision on the structure of my WIP? Ha Ha Ha … yeah, no. I’ve since moved on from the manuscript I was working on in early 2016. I had to admit to myself that I did (and still do) lack the skill level to manage such a huge project. It’s not dead – but it’s sitting, resting, simmering in *the drawer* for now. I still love the world and the characters and the ideas about it but it’ll have to wait. I will come back to this particular story when I got some more experience under my belt.

I’m going to draw up a new bucket list for 2018 in the next days – just to write down some task and goals I want to achieve in the upcoming year.

Without a goal, there’s no direction for your efforts, right?

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Part II

It’s a week since NaNoWriMo 2017 ended and I DID IT!
Despite my doubts, when I started out on that journey.
Despite some days without a single word written.
Despite falling behind midway through the month.

I was proud when I changed my Facebook profile pic to the “NaNoWinner” diamond. I still am, even though I put up a regular picture again. The best take-away from November 2017 would be this: I am able to write 50.000 words in 30 days. That bodes well for future projects and gives me a huge boost.

Next year, I might consider the original NaNO idea – start something new from the scratch. This has to be just as exciting!

While I made a lot of progress with my current WIP, I am not done with the novel. Instead, I realised I’ll have to muck out a lot of paragraphs in the first quarter; some of which I really really like … (probably that’s why I wrote those in the first place even though it’s technically not story relevant.)

But that wont happen until I go into revision and edits. And before that, I got to finish the first draft. So, given that I had one week to catch up on (some of) the chores I neglected during November, I’m going to dive back in next Monday and see if I can make it to the finish line by the end of the year. It’s still more than twenty days .. should be worth another 35k words?

 

NaNoWriMo 2017

I’ve heard about NaNoWriMo last year for the first time and was instantly intrigued. National Novel Writing Month. Nice. I’m not the only dreamer out there, I knew it! Sadly, last year’s November was already full. Two trips to the UK, the birthday of my oldest, several other appointments…simply put, I did not stand a chance.

But this years November hasn’t got quite such a tight schedule. Can it do it? Can I write 50k words in a month when I’ve hardly put down 30k during the last 9 month? Granted, there was the summer break when I stopped working on my WIP altogether and finished a short story and a poem instead, but 50k?

What to they say? “If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you can accomplish.” So, I guess there’s only one way to find out, right?

So I went ahead and signed up with the NaNoWriMo website. Come and find me and let’s be buddies – my alias is Rammerk!

The original idea of NaNoWriMo is to work on a completely new project. I pondered this for the last four days but have now decided to drop it. My heart is with my current WIP and Eden, my main character, is a constant companion in my head. If at all, I’m going to add those words to her story.

Will it be 50k? I don’t know. But I will try!

 

Wonder Woman – Story Structure

I’ve recently seen Wonder Woman and thought I go ahead and try to reconstruct the major story structure elements and share my take on the character arch at hand. Please note, this is my opinion and I do not claim to know what the scrip writers had in mind. Still, I think they did a pretty good job.

Attention:
For all who have not yet seen the movie, please be aware of major spoilers if you read on – obviously I’ll have to go into detail when analysing the story’s structure. I’ll be using the basic
Three-Act-Structure to do so. Like most stories, Wonder Woman does follow it as well. Additionally, and because that’s been one of my chief research topics on the craft, I want to look into the character arch for Diana, Princess of Themyscira. If you are not familiar with the Three-Act-Structure I recommend K.M. Weiland’s blog. It’s a treasure!

Overview:

Hook: Modern Day Diana and slightly misleading “entry statement”
Inciting Event: Capt. Steve Trevor arrives @ Themyscira
Key Event: Antiope sacrifices herself for Diana
First Plot Point: Diana decides to leave
First Pinch: Attack by Ludendorff’s thugs in London
Midpoint: Diana charges the “No-mans-Land” and rescues the village
Second Pinch: Ludendorff and Dr. (Poison) Maru launch the gas and kill everyone in the village
Third Plot Point: Diana kills Ludendorff but the war does not end and Sir Patrick reveals himself to be the true War God
Climax: Diana fights the real Ares
Climatic Moment: Diana realises her destiny and empowers her godly self, kills Ares
Resolution: The war ends. She fondly remembers Capt. Trevor

Detailed Analysis – Story Structure:

The movie starts with a Hook that is a prologue of sorts – Diana Prince as curator in the Louvre receives a highly guarded delivery from Bruce Wayne (We all know who he is, don’t we?) containing an old war picture of Diana amidst several men. We learn, that the story we are about to see is in fact a memory of Diana. The scene serves several purposes: 1) it sets her apart as a “special” kind of person – she is unchanged by time and looks just like in the hundred years old photograph; 2) it sets the mood and expectation for what is to come – a war tale; 3) it (seems to) hint at the ending – a victorious squad shows in the picture. 

With these issues taken care of, we are quite ready to “go back in time” and start the actual setup of the main character by watching Diana grow up on Themyscira as Princess of the Amazons. In this section of the film, we get a lot of foreshadowing done as well as the setup for the “Lie” the main character Diana believes: “It’s the Amazon’s purpose and destiny to fight against Ares when he comes back one day to protect the inherently good human race from his rotten influence.” (See Character Arch further below) We learn the myths she believes, we see her train and get better and better until, just when she defeats her aunt Antiope with powers unknown, we hit the Inciting Event of the story – the arrival of Capt. Steve Trevor and a pursuing army. Following right after that comes the Key Event where the Amazons, at utter disadvantage weapon-wise, manage to defeat the invaders at great cost and Antiope sacrifices her life for Diana at the end of the battle.

The Amazon’s decision to battle the Germans at the beach of Themyscira is the Key Event because it is the moment when the overall conflict – the first world war – comes crashing into Diana’s, the protagonists, life. With the deaths of her fellow Amazons, especially her aunt’s, Diana is pulled into the story and gets personally involved with the conflict. But it is not the “doorway of no return” to Act II. By that time she could still walk away, mourn for the dead and  carry on with her life as princess – a path her mother is actually preferring.

We only hit the First Plot Point, when Diana, guided by her values, decides to go and fight Ares in the outer world to “end the war of all wars.” She steals the “God-Killer-Sword” and the Lasso of Truth and travels to the outer world with Capt. Steve Trevor. There, she acts and behaves like she has learned and naturally rubs the military command and other humans of modern London quite the wrong way.

When Diana and Steve are first cornered by Ludendorff’s men in a lonely alley and later learn about his plan to use a new and deadly gas, Diana concludes Ludendorff must be Ares in disguise and resolves to kill him. This Pinch Point, the showing off of the power and dangerousness of Ludendorff, serves as a perfect “red herring” to credibly deflect attention from the true but only later identified antagonist.

Defying the military’s order to not got to Belgium, Capt. Trevor assembles a group to bring Diana to the front as he promised. With Sir Patrick’s money they make it to the front line. There, in the trenches, Diana witnesses the unwillingness or helplessness to assist and aid people in dire need. Not only the soldiers, but her own squad, too. When a refugee woman with a small child in her arms tells her about the atrocities in the conquered village behind the front line, she can’t take it any longer. Dismissing the indifference of Capt. Steve Trevor, she charges the enemies lines. This is the Midpoint of the story. Diana changes her tactics from reaction (to the new world and new events the Inciting Event cast her in) to action (acting on the circumstances and in accordance to her gut feeling) Her attack draws all enemy fire to her, enabling and inspiring the rest of the troops to follow. They win and take back the village. And now the picture from the opening scene is taken. We learn, that it was not taken in victory of the war, but only after the victory of a single battle. This raises the tension for the audience as the outcome is now not certain anymore. 

The village celebrates victory none the less. The squad joins in. They bond with the villagers. That’s important later on when the 2nd Pinch Point occurs. The squad proceeds with the goal to find and kill Ludendorff or at least eliminate the threat of the newly developed mustard gas. After Diane fails to kill Ludendorff at the gala diner due to Steven’s intervention, the 2nd Pinch Point arrives when the Germans successfully launch the test missile toward the recently liberated and unsuspecting village, killing all remaining people.

The 2nd Pinch Point comes a little late in the story but serves its purpose well. It’s a showcase for the threatening powers of the antagonist. Diana,enraged beyond measure, blames Steven for the events and runs of in pursuit of Ludendorff. Devastated by the many deaths, she rushed to put an end to it all, so the 3rd Plot Point follows shortly after the village is wiped out. Diana finds and kills Ludendorff on the roof of the arms factory on german controlled premisses. But it’s a fake victory. Now, by all she was expecting, the war should stop. But it doesn’t. At this point, with Diana watching the war rage below from atop the factory, Steve shows up again. He begs her to help with the gas-bomb loaded plane but she’s to confused. Her plan did not work – she is out of options.

As it is often the case with the 3rd Plot Point, also know as the doorway to Act III, it features a prominent death – in this case Ludendorff’s. And just as often the now the prime antagonist shows off a twist or reveals the ace he’s got up his sleeve. When Steve finally leaves without her to fight on, the true antagonist reveals himself – it’s Sir Patrick and he indeed is Ares.   

in the 3rd Act the story’s stages split into the stage where Diana fights Ares and the stage where the rest of the squad seeks to eliminate the gas-bomb primed plane while staying alive. The climatic moment for the latter arrives when Capt. Steven Trevor decides on a the suicide mission to destroy the plane. Diana needs longer to resolve her inner conflict to win the outer conflict against Ares. Before hijacking the plane Steven talks to Diana even though she is to shocked to understand it at that moment.

We near the Climax. Diana and Ares battle on. At first, the fight against Ares seems lopsided. He’s to strong. All seems lost when the “God Killer” sword is destroyed. Ares tests Diana’s believes and ethics, taunts her and tries to persuade her to join his side. Diana gains important knowledge when she learns that she is a goddess herself and the weapon to kill Ares. However, she cannot use her full strength and win the outer conflict against Ares as long as she has not resolved her inner conflict and closed her character arch. (See below)

This moment occurs when Diana is incapacitated by a large metal ring and helplessly witnesses Steven’s demise in the explosion of the plane. Her anger and despair peaks and the resulting emotional pain gives her the strength to bursts free from prison. This leads directly into the climatic moment.

Ares taunts her even more after Steven’s death and challenges her to kill Dr. Maru. Here, both the inner and the outer conflict come together. She recalls Steven’s last words to her, understands the implications of his actions and lets the woman go. With this act, she ultimately dismisses Ares’ plans in favour of her new found truth and she is finally able to fully access her godly strengths, leading to Ares’ defeat.

With the real Ares dead and the plane destroyed, peace is finally achieved. The Resolution of the story is shown when Diana is back in London, fondly remembering the late Capt. Steven Trevor.

Last but not least, the movie comes full circle with another scene in present day. Diana, back at her desk in the Louvre, is thanking Bruce Wayne in an email for the photograph. She is still a vigilant guardian of her new found truth and aims to dedicate her power to do justice in the world.   

Detailed Analysis – Character Arch

Diana, trained and educated on Themyscira, holds the believes and values of the Amazons dear. She starts out with the learned “Lie” that humankind has been made inherently good and peaceful by Zeus while only later Ares’ bad influence made them prone to quarrel and war. Furthermore it’s the Amazon’s duty to protect humankind if Ares, defeated aeons ago, where to come back and kill him with the treasured God Killer. In accordance to this lie, Diana does everything she can, to prepare to be an unconquerable warrior. Her main goal is to become the best-trained Amazon of all time, a want nurtured by her aunt Antiope.

Then, war arrives in form of Capt. Steve Trevor and the German troops. With Antiope dead, her mother Hippolyta fails to do what Diana feels must be done: get the Amazons out there to fight as they were supposed to do. Her decision to defy her mother and leave with Capt. Trevor as guide, is the irreversible event that leads us into Act II. Diana leaves the shores of Themyscira with her new plot goal “Use Capt. Trevor to find the God Ares and kill him to give back peace to humankind.” This, however, is only the perceived solution coloured by her lie – she does not know better at this point. But, she gets a glimpse of the Truth when Trevor admits he’s only fighting now after he chose to do nothing for a time. He is the first one to show her that mankind itself is flawed – that there is “darkness in each of us.”

Right up to the Midpoint, she reacts to new situations based on what she believes and has learned at home. She refuses to see mankind as the troubled and far-from-perfect creation, even though there’s a lot of evidence to suggest otherwise. She witnesses lack of courage and downright disregard for life at London Military Head Quarters; sees the flaws and imperfections and even cowardliness in the team Trevor assembles.

Only at the Midpoint, after witnessing the horrors in the trenches and Trevor’s seemingly indifferent and helpless reaction to it, she realises at last, that she has to do something, has to start somewhere. She resolves to bring a new hope to the people in the trenches, show them the right path. She instinctively knows that she needs to inspire them and let them experience how courage and compassion can save the day. And it works. First, Trevor and the squad follow her, later the rest of the troops charge across the battlefield and they win back the village. 

Even though she just saw how people need guidance and are willing to do the right thing when guided, she holds on to her plan of killing Ludendorff. She has a better grasp on the truth (People need to choose their own destiny. Then are able to do good deeds despite their flaws. If they act out of their own free will.) but has yet to relinquish the lie (Mankind is inherently perfect and flawless and only corrupted by Ares). She still pursues her “want” – the original goal that is but a perceived solution to the problem, while the real solution would be to accept the imperfection in humankind and embrace her destiny as role model to inspire goodness and compassion with her believe in love.               

Her resolve to kill Ludendorff is further empowered when the Germans gas the village. She corners Ludendorff at the roof of the factory. There she is, in grasp of the thing she wanted all along – she takes the chance and kills him. But Ares is not so easily conquered – and he never was Ludendorff. Diana only thought he is, but she was wrong. The real Ares personification reveals himself in form of Sir Patrick, now launching his final attack against her – not only physically, but psychologically. He mocks her and tries to persuade her to join his side. He does not try to re-establish her old lie – instead he try to plant a new lie into her mind: Mankind is evil and not worthy of living and should be killed once and for all.

Diana fights him. All the while Steven Trevor is off to his suicide mission and the rest of the squad fights for survival. When Steven sacrifices his life to save thousands of others and Diana remembers his last words to her, she finally rejects Ares and his new lie as well as her old lie. She fully realises that humankind is not inherently good OR evil, but simply flawed. Capable of great deeds, both good and evil. They are worthy of her protection. And if treated with love will do the right thing. That unlocks the last barrier holding her back from using her full godly powers and she embraces her destiny as God-Killer and protector of mankind.

With Ares dead, the war ends. Diana’s future and ongoing fight as protector of humankind is shown once again in the last scene, coming full circle to the beginning.

Conclusion:

Wonder Woman is a very well structured movie that hits the major story structure points just right. The accompanying character arch integrates perfectly with those main structural scenes. A prime example of structure done right!     

Do you agree? Please comment!

Webinar with Kat Brzozowski

As often the case with me, there’s a funny story in “Katja attends her first-ever webinar.” I’ve had, of course, heard of webinars before. But when writer friends at the last SCBWI meet-up in Stuttgart enthusiastically told me about time well spent and valuable lessons learned, I was determined to sign up for an interesting webinar somewhere soon.

The cool thing with the SCBWI is, they have chapters all over the world and naturally there’s always something going on somewhere. Given that I’m in the Germany-Austria chapter does not mean I don’t come across events hosted by other chapters, too. At least, I know that now – because when I went looking for something that might be of interest to me and subsequently signed up for the webinar “First Page Blitz with Editor Kat Brzozowski” I did not realise, that it was hosted by the Houston chapter. Only later did it occur to me, that the time of the webinar – 7pm – was 7pm Houston time aka 2am over here in Germany. Ohh dear….

Now, I am a person who can, if determined, raise to a challenge. I’ve had some good times with the #5amwritersclub and getting up early was nothing out of the ordinary, so I decided to pull through. And I am very glad I did. (Yes, I do know I could have just watched the recording later, but where’s the fun in that?)

Kat had given us attendees the opportunity to send in our anonymised first pages and many had done so. Going through the pages one by one, she pointed out what her thoughts on each example were, how the author could improve the beginning to make it better and more appealing to agent or editor. Between the pages she took the time to address general or follow-up questions of the authors and gave generous advise. Following are the points I regard as the most important recommendations:

  1. The reader wants to read about difference. Don’t start with the same old daily routine. Show something is special or peculiar – either for your character, or in contrast to what your reader would see as normal.
  2. Voice is important. Not just your author’s voice but the voice of the character telling the story. The manner in which the POV character starts out, sets the tone for the whole book. Try to avoid a tone that might put off readers. Who wouldn’t rather follow a funny and slightly sarcastic lad in contrast to an angry nagger? If you have decided on a tone – stay with it! Don’t change from funny to solemn mid-page.
  3. Pace is important, too. Shorter paragraphs create momentum and lead the reader into the story much more easily than large blocks of descriptive text will do. The reading flows better when the sentence length differs.
  4. Momentum comes from action, too. Not necessarily action in the sense of the character in a tight spot but as in a scene is happening. A scene is usually “stage-able” – you could play it with actors. As soon as you drop out of the scene to have the character remember events that happened who-knows-when, you halt the scene and the momentum is lost.
  5. The reader is smart. That’s crucial in more than one way. For starters: don’t spell everything out. Give the reader some credit to figure it out by herself. Don’t explain it all – write less, revise to write even less in the 2nd draft. If the smart reader does not know all connections from the start, she’ll be intrigued. Bet way to do that is to pose questions. If you do answer a raised question anyway, make sure you pose a new one before or right along with the answer.
  6. To convey how the character feels is more important than knowing why he is displaying that emotion. Of course the reader want’s to know it at some point – but figuring out motivation is one thing mankind is good at – we do it all day. So don’t spoil the fun for the reader and explain – if he works it out on his own, he’ll be all the more pleased.

Unfortunately, Kat did not have the time to go through all the submitted pages and while we were able to read many, mine was not among those. However, with the tips and tricks she explained I’ll be able to revise my first page and make it better.

I am glad I got up at 2am and I would do it again. So at this point I want to say: “Thank you, Kat!”, for giving us the opportunity to ask questions and clarifications from an experienced editor. ❤