Hi everyone, I am a writer, former PR, keen gardener. I'm getting ready to query my novel - The River House Mythology - a supernatural family mystery set in Jamaica. I've recently joined Jericho Writers and intend to make the most of all the wonderful content in the coming months.
I liked your chapters and descriptions and am not going to comment on specifics as others have already done so comprehensively. I read your pages when you posted and thought you may be interested in what sticks in my mind now. The opening gives a little tease of the synaesthesia and I think you could make more of this from the start, it's unusual and seems a good 'hook' to draw in readers. I'm wary of suggesting this as others have suggested that I change where my own story starts and that sent me down a rabbit hole for quite a while! - but maybe you could have an incident that occurs before the character goes back to the house that introduces us to the suffering she's been experiencing. Only a suggestion of course, perhaps you prefer to keep the mystery element for a while longer? I also wanted to know a little more about what she is thinking and feeling when she's driving up to the village. Much good luck with your further edits, it's an intriguing premise and I'd definitely read more!
Is the Rebecca Horsfall webinar you mention a SFOW one? If so, I wonder if it will be added to the main Jericho site at some point. As a reader I like to have something to think about once a story has finished, so I would be wary of tying everything up too neatly. It sounds like you have the right balance already!
I would echo Kate, Rick and Georgina’s advice. I am going through this very process at the moment. Each time someone new reads the manuscript, I decide what I do and don’t agree with and then start a new draft and revise, then revise again. Having others read and comment on your work is an invaluable learning experience. Each time the manuscript gets stronger (by my humble judgement!) I hope that at some point in the not too distant future, I’ll be ready to pay for a manuscript assessment or go out to query with it. Good luck!
Hi Slago - Getting these openings right is so hard, but I’m glad you found the feedback helpful. I hope others will chime in as well, so you get a good sweep of opinions. I would be happy to read your next chapter - if you want to, post it here - or if you prefer to send direct my email is email@example.com
Thanks for posting this. I read the whole extract and really liked it and not only because the San Marino Grand Prix is the only one I've attended in real life! I like the way you unravel the weird 'talent' the young boy has, his ability to 'predict/see' the future. In the motor racing parts, all the concrete references to the drivers and their placings bring it to life. The part that maybe confused me a bit was where he remembers not being picked for the football match as a nine year old. He's looking back on it as a 14 year old, but also bringing in the fact that he's shared this moment with his mate many times. I think it's just the mechanics of the scene but I had to go back and read it again to properly understand it. Those were just my first impressions. I'm sure someone will provide more specific edits, but the piece held my attention and now I want to know about the football match!
If it's any comfort I've been struggling with the start of my novel for this reason too! I've written and rewritten countless times. At the moment I have a pared down first scene and chapters. I get into the progress of the story far quicker than earlier versions. To get there, I've taken things out, put them back in and revised it until my head spins. Last week I rewrote the start from scratch again (using tiny elements from my earlier versions) and trusting the reader more. I read it this morning and I actually prefer my new version. Who knows tomorrow I may like the old one again! I'm aiming mine primarily at US agents and sometimes they only ask for five or ten pages and a query letter, so I think things must be happening in real time - not back story or background on how the characters got to where they are - very early on in those pages. Not sure if this is helpful, but I definitely empathise with you.
I think this depends so much on circumstances, as well as your own dreams. There's no doubt that traditional publishing provides 'external' validity to your work, but many self-published authors offer great books, make a reasonable living and achieve their validity from their readers and community. If they are prolific producers they can certainly publish more words, and more often. The more I read, the more it seems that to crack traditional publishing you must possess crocodile skin and perseverance, as well as a great book. The rejections get hard to endure after a while. This is a long and convoluted way of saying I'm constantly torn between the two options. I am hoping to query my second book later this year and have started my third this week with self-publishing in mind.
Fascinating discussion. My current work has the theme of 'new beginnings' and draws on some personal experience. An author from one of the Jericho webinars stated that all her books are about her in some way and I think that's inevitable; even if at first we don't recognise it. It can be as subtle as a particular character's trait, or as broad as the overall meaning behind the story. For me, the 'but why?' which is central to theme is just as important as the plot, the characters, structure, etc.