Friday, June 1, 2012

JumpStartWriMo and First Page Friday

Are you ready for JumpstartWriMo in June? I am so stoked!

I wanted to do this because I need a jumpstart on my manuscript. I want to set goals for the month of June that will stretch me but still be realistic (I know I can't do an entire manuscript with my situation, but I want to get going!) and I want to have accountability with you guys.

So here's what we're going to do first. Tell me what your goals are for the month of June in the comments. Think of a writing goal that will stretch you a bit and make you reach, but is still reasonable.

When you put it in the comments, we're going to hold you to it for the whole month of June. We're going to cheer you to it, motivate you with it, and be there with you every step of the way.

I will be providing motivational guests, writing guides, sprints, and incentives as well as writing tips all the way through and I think it would be fun to have everyone check in at the end of the day and tell everyone how they did.

Here are my goals. I want to finish revising/editing my book Hostage and I want to get 48,000 words done on my new manuscript, Ribbon of Light. That's going to stretch me, (2000 words a day, six days a week give or take) but it will be so worth it in the end.  Jumpstart in June, right?

I hope you'll grab my cool badge below (thank you Jordan McCollum!) and join the fun as well as invite your friends. The more the merrier!

JumpStartWriMo, June 2012, photo by arbyreed from Flickr

First Page Friday

What would Friday be without a First Page Friday? (For any new people, we have a national editor that critiques first pages for us every Friday. If you would like to submit, directions are in the sidebar.)  

The Entry  
By Debbie Vilardi

I dropped my plate in the sink and started toward the door. " Steven," Mom called, "don' t go upstairs yet. We have something to discuss with you."

My stomach pressed into my dinner. They're finally going to tell me what's going on. Could we need money? Could something be wrong with Grandma? Could we be moving? No way! I wouldn't allow that, but the other possibilities- I crossed my fingers against them.

My parents cleared the table while I headed for the living room. A cabinet closed. I heard Dad say, "Did you just put the juice in there? "

 "What?" Mom answered. She must have looked, because she said, " I don't know where my brain is." Then I heard the refrigerator door.  

What could mess her up that much? I 'd been waiting two weeks for them to clue me in. The wait was almost over. What's coming? There wasn't any point to thinking about it. I'd know soon. I collapsed into the most comfortable living room chair, Dad's chair, and pulled down the movie screen in my mind. My imaginary self was always ready for a challenge.

 Bright Star rushed to answer King Olaf' s summons.

King Olaf stood in the palace courtyard with a scroll in his hand. "Sir Bright Star, I have a quest for you."

The door creaked shut behind Bight Star as he bowed his head. " Yes, King Olaf."

 "Take this parchment through the Darklands to King Isaac at the desert 's edge. Don't open it, and don' t let anyone lay hold of it. Do not fail, or darkness may well befall us all. Ride swiftly."  

Ms. Shreditor's Comments

 I fear that this first page may have taken on too much. There’s the tease of a juicy parent-child discussion and then a sudden jump to the “movie screen in [Steven’s] mind.” It’s jarring. Before we’ve gotten our bearings our understood anything vital about Steven as a character, we’re thrown from a realistic scene into a fantastical one. To further complicate matters, it’s hard to determine whether or not King Olaf and Bright Star exist anywhere other than Steven’s imagination. If these characters are mere figments, then the suspense of a nonexistent quest may not be enough to power the first page. I would consider differentiating between these real and imagined scenes with breaks and/or font changes for clarity’s sake.

The writing has a fun, childlike quality that would appeal to kids ages 9 to 12. Steven makes for an inquisitive narrator and pauses often to question the world around him. I questioned a few of his reactions as I read. When his mother accidentally puts juice in a cabinet instead of the refrigerator, Steven worries, “What could mess her up that much?” The reaction seems excessive; while putting a perishable item in the wrong place is certainly a scatterbrained thing to do, it doesn’t strike me as cause for grave concern. Perhaps rework this section so that his mom does something more in keeping with Steven’s reaction—or simply tone down the reaction itself. I also stumbled over Steven’s chain of questions in the second paragraph. He seems more alarmed at the thought of moving than the thought of something being wrong with his grandmother, and thus relegates Grandma to the same back burner as potential money woes.

The text could benefit from a thorough proofread to resolve miscellaneous spelling, grammatical, and punctuation issues. There are a lot of short sentences that make for a choppy rhythm, so you’ll want to work on varying sentence length.

Watch also for tense inconsistency. For the most part, the story unfolds in the past tense; however, at a few introspective junctures, it flips suddenly to the present (examples: “They’re finally going to tell me what’s going on” and “What’s coming?”). These sentences might work in the present tense if they appeared as italicized thoughts, but I’d advise just switching them to the past to keep things consistent.

Be careful with imagery, too. It needs to be concise, and it needs to be clear. I tried to envision someone’s stomach pressing into his dinner and had a difficult time with it. You never want to kill the momentum in your story, but you definitely don’t want to kill it in your second paragraph. Can you simplify this by saying something like “My stomach lurched”?

The most important consideration for the revision phase is pacing. There need to be smoother segues between Steven’s and Bright Star’s worlds. Work on fine-tuning syntax and resolving mechanical issues to create a more polished product.

And now a note about my next column: Next week, I will be attending Book Expo America (BEA) with several colleagues. For those of you unfamiliar with BEA, it is like the Oscars of book industry events. Think top publishing houses, famous authors, celebrities, and all the advance review copies you can cram into a tote bag. I'll take thorough notes and share some of what I learn with you all next week. Stay tuned!


Debra Erfert said...

I got the feeling Steve pushed Grandma to the background, too. I resented that a little. I loved my grandma more than moving, and I moved, like, a dozen times, or more, when I was a kid.

Yay, you've named your blog challenge JumpstartWriMo.

Okay, I'll challenge myself to 50K. I know this is a short month, but at the end of June I have a writers retreat up in Show Low, Arizona for 3 days, and I should be able to get a good amount of writing done then.

Good luck with your writing challenge, Julie! And I'll try very hard to put up the cool badge on my blog that Jordan designed.

Melanie Goldmund said...

Well, I already wrote down a goal yesterday, but I should probably revise it so that I can challenge myself, as you said. So I'll make my goal to finish this 5000 word story and get it ready to submit to Mindflights, then start another one.

Woo hoo!

Debra Erfert said...

Yay! I was able to put up the pretty badge on my blog, and the link actually works! I wrote a short post on your challenge, and I'll put it up on Facebook real quick, too. *giggles*

Janice Sperry said...

Most kids don't find something else to do while they wait. It would be more believable if he goes in the kitchen and hounds his parents for more details while not helping with the dishes.

I'm setting my JumpStartWriMo goal fairly low. I'd like to get the MS to 25,000 words by the end of the month. It's low because I'm expecting the first proofs for my Christmas pamphlet soon and then I'll have a deadline. (I love saying that.)

Melanie Goldmund said...

I managed to put the button up on my website, too, and wrote a little post about it on my blog. Yay!

And, man, I wish I could go to BEA. I would sew straps onto a body bag and pretend it was a really big tote, then stock up on all those advance review copies. *envious sigh*

Jon Spell said...

I'll restate my 30+ minutes a day writing goal. I reviewed my work-in-progress last night and I am currently at 4600 words. I will consider that my starting point and update with word counts as we go. This is very exciting!

(Psst: Ms. Shreditor: $20 for an ARC of Feedback)

Jordan McCollum said...

My goals for June are to revise the second half of my novel and make it 1000% perfect.

Wait, that might be too big a challenge.

So, revise the second half of my novel & take it to critique group, rerevise the whole thing according to their awesome advice, and get it to fresh readers (and language readers).

That sounds challenging enough, but I'm also taking an online writing class this month. There, now I'm overloaded enough.

The Devey Daily Planet said...

I need motivation in a bad way, it being summer I have become extremely lazy. I have a story I have been working called "object of My Affection" (not very original I know). It is a nerd love story that when I started it has not a love story at all. Any who my goal is 20,000 words.

Thanks Debra for showing me this, I have been a huge procrastinating slacker the month of May.

Rachelle said...

Julie, this is an awesome idea! I've been brainstorming a new novel and started it, but I need a push. So my goal for June is to write 40,000 words on my new novel and do some revisions on another novel, as well as write an article I've been thinking about. That should be good, right? :)

Marcy said...

Jumpstart sounds like just what I need for this month. During May I worked on writing for an hour every day and was able to write 17,917 words on my current WIP which is now at 53,411 words. For June I'd like to continue on and shoot for an additional 25,000 words. Hopefully at that point I'll have a fairly good draft ready for revision.

Debra Erfert said...

You're welcome, Billy!

Lindzee said...

My goal for June is to finish my current WIP. I'm about halfway into it (46k), so my goal is to write 40k.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

I'm so excited to see everyone's goals. I think this is going to be fun! Thanks for participating everyone!

The kids are in bed (except for the teens) so I'm going to try to meet my word count goal right now. Wish me luck!

Rebecca H. Jamison said...

Finish rought draft of WIP. I had an idea for a nonfiction book I want to write with my teenagers, so I'll be outlining and drafting that too.

Sonia said...

I want to participate, too, but this summer for me is so busy my goal will seem very low to everyone, but if I can get 10,000 words written on my current work in progress I will be very happy. So that is my goal. 10,000 words for June.

Michael Young said...

I'd like to write 50,000 words and get my WIP submitted.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Debbie asked me to post this comment for her:

Some of the comments were a surprise, but I knew I needed to get the first Bright Star scene
off the first page. Janice helped me figure out how to do it without losing the parallel between
the imagined world and the real one. Steven will stay in the kitchen and express the
possibilities he's considered. (This will resolve the question of his feelings toward Grandma
too.) This novel has been in my trunk for a while. It was the only novel I had in a complete
enough state, so I sent it on a lark. Now, if I do go back to it, I'll have direction.

Thanks again,