Okay, so after all the great wonderful feedback/advice I've gotten collectively from my query and 1st 250 excerpts, I thought it'd be a great idea if I made a dedicated thread here for more bits and pieces of things I feel like I'm having trouble with from either a lack of skill, or inexperience. In other words . . . I need some help!
So, to make a long story short, I've been working on RECODED for about 8 1/2 years now. Thought I'd finished it and got it readied up as best could be by Spring 2015 (well, best as in only having one other person beta read and edit the MS besides me because everyone else I asked wound up being a no-show disaster). Submitted to about 3 contest, and then got a request from a new agent at the time through #PitMad in that June. Submitted first 50 pages to her, and eventually got this rejection/resubmit invitation:
"I suggest further work in character development, in a clearer, larger sense of place, deeper interiority (more complex inner life of the characters), and more unique and specific details, especially when it comes to a character's physical details. There may be structural issues as well but working with an editor should help identify those areas. Once you have completed a major revision, please feel free to resubmit for reconsideration."
So basically, loved the concept, but writing was "not quite market ready.". Soo fasting forwarding to now, I'm finally back at the wheel in feeling like I have a solid directiont in rewritng the majority of the first ACT (where the main changes are), but trying to take my writing to that "next-level" feels like one hell of a struggle. I've certainly imrpoved, and can clearly see she was 100% on the money (almost embarassingly so), but while I'm intending on getting the entire book properly beta read like crazy this time, from my previous experience, I don't want to wait around for a beta reader to point out issues or corrections and have the entire MS to go through and have the weight of fixing when I can try to get as much of this stuff right from the beginning as I go along and maybe acutally try to get better at some of my weak areas.
So, getting all that house cleaning done, as far as this thread is concerned, these are my main areas of concern (taken from the agents blog):
Are the scenes grounded with specific and unique details that make them tangible and immersive?
Can we clearly envision distinct physical features of the characters that also reveal their unique personalities (or do we only see their hair and eyes)?
Physical descriptions of any kind have anyways been one of my biggest woes. I mean, I can do a nice paragraph here or there in terms of enriching a setting or whatnot, but I've shyed away most the time--espescially when it's come to characters. Personally, my preference is I don't much give a fig myself (just mention eye and hair color, and I'll be fine!), but it's clearly not acceptable enough if you want to be considered great from simply good enough. And good enough doesn't impress an agent, so that won't do for me.
This time my writing in RECODED has to be right--no matter what.
So, let's get to kickin' this thread off, shall we?
As I'm currently still crafting my 2nd attempt at a new opening since the 2015 rejection (this one will stick, I think), I've been parsing through bits of my Chapter I featuring the first adult POV (Lillian) that I wrote back in August. It's turned out extremely well, in my opinion, and holds up (though it took a a very painful and depressing year of stalls and stop with other attempts at writing her before I finally found her pulse as a real, tangible character in the story), but there are certainly a few moments of the writing I'd certainly like to get some opinions on.
For the initial post here, I want to show the moment I introduce Alan (Dani's father) physically from Lillian's POV (sleeping next to her in bed). It's the first time the reader is seeing him, so I wanted to try to craft a detailed portrait of his face from Lillian's perspective and thoughts. Not really sure what else to add, so here's the section. Is it effective, or just a mess?
This morning marked the fifth straight night Alan had slept with her. She hadn’t inquired, nor had he explained. Not that she needed him too . . . but it was peculiar. Stealing him away for a quickie at lunch or late-evening seduction had been their standard operating MO for the past five months.
Lillian sparked a flame from the lighter. It fluttered brightly in a jive, dashing the air in its own ballet. Just a kiss. Her hand trembled. Just a tiny, little smooch. She brought the dancing flame to within an inch of the Decker’s tip, but the orange radiance it bathed across Alan’s face made her waver.
The tautness behind his triangular frame. The wavy brown hair she ravenously slid her fingers through. The slender bulb of nose he nuzzled against her neck and belly and legs and silt in-between peppered kisses. She drank him deeply like drowning a hard swirl of vodka; his handsome strength still such a soaking elixir between her thighs.
“Dammit,” she muttered, and snapped the lighter shut. None of this is doing any good. She chucked it on the bedside counter before temptation could strike again.