Tuesday, 7 September 2010

New Voices - What have I learned?

So it's only been two days but I feel as if I have been on a huge learning curve. I am absolutely determined to read every single entry and give it a grade.  Here's what I've learned so far.
  1. Everyone who has submitted is very brave.  I have the utmost respect for anyone who has put their work out there for the world to comment on.
  2. Now I understand the premise of having a REALLY good first line.  Something that makes you sit up and take notice.  Something that throws you into the start of the story straight away.  I'm not too good at first lines and it's definitely something I could work on.
  3. Funnily enough, now I understand the premise of having a really good last line, or 'hook'.  I've got to the end of some chapters and screamed NO!  I want to read more!  I've also read some last lines that totally intrigued me and made me want to turn the page.  I also read some last lines and thought HUH?  is that it?
  4. Backstory dump is a disease that is widespread and is in danger of becoming an epidemic.  I always find it so much easier to see this in someone else's work than my own.
  5. Getting the hero and heroine on the page together as soon as possible is the most important element of the story.  No excuses.  I don't want pages and pages of blah blah blah I want to see them reacting to each other and I want to see the conflict.
  6. I'm not a huge fan of historicals or paranormals but I've read a few chapters here that I've really enjoyed.  I mainly only buy historicals from Michelle Styles and Michelle Willingham as they live in blogland quite a lot, have lots of good advice and show support to all aspiring writers.  But I've found some chapters that have sparked my interest and made me curious.  That can only be good.
  7. My crit partner Nancy, helped me immensely with my punctuation and grammar, she practically held my hand.  Some submissions could do with a little hand-holding themselves.
  8. Some chapters SPARKLE.  I don't want to show favouritism but Rachael and Jackie's ROCK.  You know when you read something and just think Wow! well if you haven't read them yet ladies, then go and hunt them down.
  9. Names.  I want to give comments on what I've read, I want it to be constructive criticism or praise.  I also want to vote honestly.  When I registered I wasn't sure if people would know who had given them what % vote, and I don't want to offend some of the brave soldiers, so I am currently voting under an alternative pseudonym that I've used when writing.  And to be honest, now I feel a bit crap about it.
  10. Now  I really feel for the Editors when they read through the slush pile.  In a way I think I can understand.  You don't know what genre or style you're getting, or the standard of everyone's writing but you read anyway.  Then if something stands out from the crowd you just KNOW it.  And it terrifies me, because I'm not sure if any entry I put in would do that.
So there we go, after two days that's what I've learned so far.  What about you?


  1. Hi Susan!
    I popped on the New Voices website today, too. At the time I think they had 65 entries. Unlike you, I do NOT have the compulsion to read them all. What I noticed was that not one entry had a rating higher than 3 flowers. (I think they were flowers.) And I agree, seeing all those entries did make me feel for the editors. I only glanced at one entry but I scanned the list to look for names I recognized. If I have some time I may head back over later in the month.

  2. Susan, thanks so much for reading and for the shoutout on your blog! I'm really, really pleased you liked the chapter - have been feeling sick about the fact that people were reading it. Welcome to the wonderful world of publishing eh?
    And hey, you're not waiting on a revised full verdict for nothing - you DO have that something. :-)

    As to the rating thing, Wendy, it's deceptive. I thought it was like the M&B site where you click on one after the other to rate. But not this site. You click on one and that's it, that's your rating. I've accidently rated people one rose when I meant to give them five! It's very annoying.

  3. Love this post!! And I think you're VERY ambitious wanting to read them all. Although if I end up staying up as late as I did last night because of it, then I think I might end up reading them all too - lol!

    I agree with ALL your thoughts on the New Voices - it really is enlightening, isn't it!?

    Don't worry about the grammar too much - M&B obviously LOVE you!

    Apparently I had a few typos in mine (and I'm an English teacher - lol) but I guess you don't see your own stuff.

    And THANKS SO MUCH for saying you liked my chapter *VERY BIG GRIN*

    Personally I wish I'd registered under a false name because I feel a little terrible saying bad stuff even if its constructive, so I must admit, I probably won't!!!

  4. I'm with Rach I think if you can get through all of the hundreds of them you can put that on your resume ;). That is no small achievement! Great post :)

  5. There's nothing wrong with taking on a pseudonym if the advice you're giving is constructive and not venomous. So no need feeling crap about that.

    As for the submission anxiety, let it go. Statistically speaking, some people are going to think you sparkle and others are going to think you're slush. It's a fact of life. My advice when it comes to submitting is to edit your tush off, press the button, and then find a project to keep you busy until it's all over.

  6. What have I learnt? That pressing that little submit button is pretty scary! But Elizabeth is spot on with her advice I think. Otherwise I think you could drive yourself crazy.

    So, are you coming over the other side then???

    Jackie told me the water was lovely and warm so I dived in.

    She lied!

  7. Thank you for your comments ladies!
    Wendy - I think I might have been a bit optomistic, I looked today and there were over 130 entries. GULP! I think I've read around 60 so far and unless I want to stop sleeping, I don't know if I'll get through them all.
    Jackie - I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. I want to read more and more. If you don't get shortlisted it will be a criminal offence.
    Rachael - I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. I settled right into it and wrapped myself up in it like a big comfy blanket. I will lead the riot if you don't make the shortlist.
    Lacey - where is yours? I love your blog and want to see your writing, so gimme, gimme, gimme...
    Elizabeth - I've tried to be constructive and if I felt I couldn't say something nice, then I did the best thing and said nothing. But to be truthful it's been pretty easy because there's been lots of good things to say!
    Lorraine - congratulations! I'm delighted to hear you've posted your entry, I'm going to make some tea, find a chocolate biscuit and go to hunt your entry down and enjoy it!

  8. What have I learnt? That I'm a chicken hiding behind my current sub and may not even enter... well to enter you actually need at least a chapter written, and I have, well, nothing...

    Agree those in are sooo brave - and I may be biased, but there are two brave gals in there that are extra spec to me - Jackie and Rach, you ROCK!!

  9. I've also learned that I cannot spell to save my life...

  10. So... have you read them all so far? LOL! Just curious!

  11. OK so far I've read 102. I've kept a little log because I think I might try and read some twice. I'm actually kind of wishing I was the "other" person you thought I might be, Ros Clarke, her chapter is good. Finding lots of things I'm liking on new voices. It's great fun!

  12. LOL - on wishing you were Ros Clarke! Her chap is great but I'll be your writing is too considering you have a revised full under consideration :)
    102 is AMAZING!!!! Are you getting much sleep?

  13. Blogger doesn't seem to like me - have tried to post several comments and it doesn't want to let me...

    Some of those chapters are scaily good. I've allowed myself to be completely intimidated.


  14. Hey Susan - just saw your post on the M&B forums. For some reason I can't log in there but just wanted to say it sucks that you don't feel comfortable to post constructive crit anymore cos I've read some of your comments and I thought them very helpful!!! xox

  15. Suzanne please don't be intimidated. Post your story, you know you want to! Get it out there and let the world enjoy it!

    Rachael - that's life. You live and learn. She's still flexing her claws at me, but I am strong! I think she's missing the point. I didn't say it to annoy her, just because it threw me out the story and stopped the flow. And I wasn't the only one to comment on it!