Although good news rarely comes from the slush pile, we can find many lessons about the craft of writing buried within it. One of our goals here at Castle Gate Press is to encourage new authors, so even though we can’t send personalized feedback to everyone who submits to us, I would like to share the trends I notice while wading through the virtual slush pile in our e-mail.
An issue I’ve noticed recently is jerky transitions. It makes me think of a mime imitating a robot. The movements are quick and jerky compared to the fluid way a real person moves. I have two thoughts regarding why this might be popping up in writing.
1) It could be a response to episodic scenes. If you’ve been writing for a while, you know that we don’t need to tell the reader about everything that goes on in a protagonist’s day. Much of it is simply ho-hum, everyday stuff that would bore the reader It is possible, however, to go too far in the other direction, and not include enough of the little stuff to smooth over the transition from one scene/action to another.
2) Or it might be caused by lack of internal thoughts. Real people react to what’s going on around them, so if characters don’t show this, readers sense that something is missing. Like the gaps between tile need to be filled by grout, so internal thought and responses (so long as they don’t veer into telling or an info dump) can smooth the flow from one action or scene to another.
As always, the issue of showing vs. telling regularly rears its head in the slush pile. If you struggle with this, or would like to learn more about how to write deep POV, we highly recommend these articles:
– Article at Novel Matters: Showing vs. Telling-What Is Showing? http://www.novelmatters.com/2010/05/showing-vs-telling-what-is-showing.html– Writing the Perfect Scene (an article about motivation/reaction units by Randy Ingermanson): http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/writing-the-perfect-scene/– My Book Therapy Articles (by Susan May Warren): http://www.mybooktherapy.com/slide-3/mbt-library/