Friday, January 22, 2010

Raising the Bar

Since I began writing seriously almost six years ago, I know I have learned a lot about the craft of writing. I also know that what I've learned shows in my work. Today, though, I realize just how much more I need to learn.

Over at the blog Pub Rants, two agents share the first pages that caught their attention of two novelists. The first is Janice Hardy's two pages from her debut novel The Shifter published in 2009 . These two pages are original and were not changed for publication! The other is the opening by Julia Karr for her novel XVI, which will be coming out in 2011.

I am in awe of these two authors. Both samples were so beautifully written I was hooked. Afterward, I tried to analyze why. I came up with three conclusions:
  1. They both opened with action. 
  2. With a few words weaved in, I became aware of the setting, place, and time. 
  3. I was drawn to memorable characters.
So, the bar has been raised, and I have a lot more work to do before I develop that kind of craftsmanship.

12 comments:

  1. Hey Catherine! I like your analysis of the reason these pages hooked you. I have no idea if my opening will stay the same, since I'm in the editorial stage right now & know that some things will change. I'm glad that my first pages intrigued you. I hope you like the whole book when it comes out! Julia

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  2. I know I will and I'll be first in line to buy it!

    Whether they change or not, the fact is they were pages that got an agent's attention and I can see why. Now I need to go take another look at mine.

    Thanks for commenting, Julia, good luck with the revisions. Can't wait until it is finally available.

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  3. Hi Catherine,
    Thanks for visiting my blog and for your encouraging words. I agree, the examples on PubRants were great -- fun to read. I'll follow your blog. I love to be in community with other writers.

    Amy

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  4. Thank you, and I'll follow yours also. I read it for the first time today and thought it was great!

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  5. Great post, Catherine. The other thing I noticed with these two examples was the first line in each of them really grabbed you, especially The Shifter. I've got to read that book!

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  6. That's right about the first line! And, I've definitely got to read The Shifter,too!

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  7. Very good points, Catherine! I too am always seeking to improve my writing and one of my favorite ways is to learn from others!
    Nice blog, by the way--found you when you posted on mine.

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  8. Thank you, I remember how interesting your Traveling Artist series sounds. Hope it is going well.

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  9. That's important to keep growing in your craft and learning from others. Well done with the insights! And I agree, both very talented writers.

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  10. First pages have to be the most rewritten, over analyzed, stressed out over, workshopped words a writers will ever write. I love finding good examples. - Laura

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  11. Have you read Shanghai Girls by Lisa See? Same thing, simple weaving, creating a work of art.

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  12. I'm putting Shanghai Girls on my reading list right now. Thanks for mentioning it.

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