Wednesday, October 27

Avon Editor Tessa Woodward On The First 3 Pages— Workshop Notes

Alright guys, so during the workshop there was also a panel where Tessa Woodward, Avon editor extraordinaire, did a critique of people's first 3 pages. It was sooo interesting. Here are some big picture things she talked about. Remember guys, she's an editor. I'd definitely take what she says seriously!
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  • Editors can't judge a book by the first 3 pages! She said she has signed a debut book and then had the author delete the first 100 pages! So there is hope =)
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  • In the first pages, get rid of repetition of any kind: Repetitive words, phrases, actions, and sentence structures. We need to get right to the action/importance of the beginning.
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  • Along the lines of the previous statement, she said you must vary how you start paragraphs. In one critique she did, the person started 4 paragraphs in a row with "I".
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  • Don't be afraid to use he/she instead of names! Like "said" he/she is nearly invisible to readers, so don't be worried about using too many (of course, within reason).
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  • Everyone says to make your story realistic, but Tessa strongly stressed that your story shouldn't be too real. We read books to escape reality, not to read our lives being repeated on paper. Get rid of mundane sentences, especially with dialogue.We don't need to hear every single thing that goes on.
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  • With regards to dialogue at the beginning... it must be very, very, very important. Most dialogue, especially at the beginning, doesn't tell the reader much of anything. It's filler.
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  • Don't do all dialogue on any page (beginning, middle, end), especially when the sentence structures are so short. White space isn't good! Add more internal dialogue if this is the case for you. Or, look at the dialogue. Is it really important? Does it add to the story or the scene? If not, get rid of it.
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  • Your first line should be simple! Don't trip up the reader right away, LOL!
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  • The first couple of pages should give the reader organic details (who, what, where, why, how). This is especially the case if you're working with a world that isn't common. So if you write paranormal, sci-fi, urban fantasy, etc... make sure these things are apparent to the reader right away.
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  • Show don't tell! This one is duh, but she finds it so often. However, she also said that you can over show. We don't need to know every facial expression. You can simply say, "He gave her a disgusted look." As well, we don't need to know every single action.
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  • Active, not passive! Once again, duh. This is the biggest indicator of a new writer.
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My take on Tessa:
Omg! She's so sweet! I adored meeting her. Anyone with her as an editor is extremely lucky.
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So what do you guys think? Anything surprise you?

*Make sure to stop by Friday for my experience on pitching an editor (Yes, it was Tessa!)*

7 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you took such great notes.Thanks for sharing this. Good stuff!!

    *zips off to re-read opening pages*

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  3. *facepalm* I think I *will* set the MS on fire.

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  4. Di- Aww thank you =) Hehe, I did the same thing ;)

    Mel- Thanks! I hope it helped =)

    Tina- lmao. Dont think of it as a bad thing, think of it as something you can work on =)

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  5. This is GREAT advice! Oh, and having to get rid of the first 100 pages? OUCH!

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