Spring is Conference time. In April I participated in a peer critique group at a PA SCBWI conference and in June I will be meeting the authors of the novels I am currently critiquing. All together, I have critiqued 165 pages. That’s the size of a whole novel.
So what did I observe when critiquing these awesome samples of writing?
- Creating tension is essential to keep those pages turning. How do we do that?
Here are some examples:
- Show, don't tell!
- The fewer blocks of description or passive writing, the better.
- Avoid "info dumps."
- Use realistic dialogue. Make sure your characters speak like today’s teens.
- Impart information through action scenes.
2. Make your "danger" believable.
a. Don’t throw in a scene that sounds scary or exciting just because every writing book suggests you do. The danger your character exoeriences must relate to his/her story.
3. Throw a monkey wrench in the middle of the drama. Include something unexpected to make the reader want to keep going.
4. Pay attention to pacing.
a. too fast? Slow it down with some basic description, not flowery over the top double adjective description.
1. use longer sentences
b. too slow? Add dialogue.
1. incorporate short, staccato sentences to make scenes more suspenseful.
2. Make scenes take place in a shorter rather than longer time frame.
5. Use hooks at the end of each chapter to keep reader turning the pages.
Activity: Since agents and editors want to be sucked into your story immediately go back to your first scene in your first chapter and:
1. Highlight tension in RED.
2. Highlight character’s feelings in PINK.
3. Highlight actions in BLUE.
4. Highlight dialogue in PURPLE.
5. Highlight character’s inner thoughts in GREEN.
Well, I’m off to splatter my critique partners’ pages with color. Together we can create a masterpiece. Try using this color critique method with your next critique group.