I haven’t written about the audition since mid-November, but I’ve been steadily working on it. I have four stories to get agent ready by February. Here’s the link for where I was back then . . . Rinda Beach - Blog - Rinda Beach
And now – here’s what my stories and I have been doing since November . . .
1. The DUCK STORY went through 3 rounds of critiques and revisions. I almost sent if off for a 4th, but I spent Christmas with my Texas kids. Tomorrow I’m back to the lake and back to work. Job #1 is to finish those ducks and send them off by Friday.
It’s amazing to go through this process, to see elements of my original story in this new edition, and to see how the changes improve the plot and the characters.
Drake is now Liam, but it’s a deeper change than just a name. Liam drives the action. He thinks harder, finds better ideas when the ducks challenge him. And the ducks, they’re harder to beat.
The other HUGE change links Liam’s duck struggles to his sisters. The metaphor deepens the plot. I can’t wait to send this manuscript back to Lynne Marie, the Picture Book Mechanic, to see what else she suggests. She pushed me, pushed this story, and we’re better because of it.
2. My Safety Story went through 2 rounds of critiques and revisions, so far. The first round started by cutting one scene. It was easy! That means it was fat, not muscle – that’s what I call essential/nonessential parts of a story. I made the changes and sent it off to Lynne Marie.
She liked the bones of the story and the character names, but Lynne Marie thought I should change the setting for the first scene. I had to think, hard, on how to make it happen. In fact, I did it last. I started with the easiest changes and moved towards the hardest ones.
When the changes were done, I listened to the story over and over again. Usually I do 3 sets of 3 listening/editing rounds, per story, per day. I do that for at least 3 days before I even consider sending it off for a critique. (Yes, I have a thing about 3’s!) Then I sent it off to Lynne Marie. She sent it back a couple days before Christmas. I saved it, and I’ll look at it this week. I’ll start by adding the notes to a fresh copy. From there, I’ll work my way through her notes, hopefully, next week.
3. My Dog Story has spent the last 2 months with Callie and her Writing Magic Critique group. It’s been through 4 rounds of critiques and 3 rounds of revisions.
In the first critique Callie suggested a name change. Names are everything in a story, for characters and titles! My own dog gave me this story idea. She was a Border Terrier named Leia, like Princess Leia from Star Wars. Her full name was Leia Millennia Beach, and yes, my kids LOVED Star Wars! They still do.
Princess has been the dog’s name since I wrote the first draft back in 2012. I took a look at names over a couple days. I tried Rascal. Callie didn’t think it worked. I trust her opinions so I looked again. I picked Coco. She loved it! Woohoo!
One of the most unexpected changes happened after I left Princess behind. Princess said arf, arf, but Rascal and Coco went ruff, ruff. I didn’t plan it, but arf felt wrong when I listened/edited. Ruff felt right. Editing is magic because sometimes, characters tell YOU what they want to say. It’s interesting – neither Rascal or Coco could say woof – they’re too small for that sound.
The other big change was in the story mission statement. It helps me focus which road the story and its plot should take. When I wrote there’s a battle going on between Coco and her girl Marlee, it completely changed the plot. I didn’t catch it right away. Callie did! She suggested I try thinking of the story as a battle between these 2 characters. It worked!
I used some of the same elements, but I turned the action into a zigzag (/\/\/\). At the end of one scene Coco’s winning, but Marlee wins the next. The best part of this new dog/girl battle is that I stuck the ending. The most important sentences/paragraphs/pages in any book, is the first, and the last.
Tomorrow – the last manuscript for the challenge, plus 2 more. I started working on them in December. LOL! It’s a good thing I love editing!
4. My Nativity Story had 1 critique, from Rate Your Story (RYS). They gave it a 6 – I wanted a 1, but the comments are more helpful to me than a score.
Their only suggestion – add action. I did. Now I need to find out if it’s enough. How? I’ll send it to Callie’s Writing Magic Critique group and find out. It’s ready to send out, and the dog story is ready for more revision.
The next 2 stories aren’t part of the Agent Audition challenge. They started because I decided to take a class with Callie. I thought I could finish revising my middle grade novel and do the agent audition. Then I came up with a new idea for an early chapter book. Now all I have to do is balance 6 stories?!
5. My Ant Story is 30 chapters long. Last year I finished chapter 26. When I saw this class, I decided to get a running start by going back to Chapter 1 and the revision notes Callie left for each chapter.
I’ll go through those notes, make the corrections, and move forward. I haven’t started yet, but, if I read and revise chapters 1-16 by the end of January I’ll be back on track. Hopefully chapter 30 will be done by the end of February. Fingers crossed!
6. My Zoo Story is a new idea – it’s only a month old! I have the characters, the setting, but no plot – yet! I’m taking my chapter book that’s coming out in March, and moving it to the zoo.
In ZOE’S SCAVENGER HUNT FUN, Zoe is searching for points for the lake scavenger hunt Mom designed. Can she come up with enough points to beat her older siblings and win the prize?
Zoo Scavenger Hunt Fun already has a problem - Zoe wants to win the hunt. I have the format – 7 chapters with 7 animals. I need to figure out what the three tries will be, how the action will rise/fall, and the animal order. I know that the challenges must grow until that 3rd try/ 6th animal, when Zoe will think winning is impossible.
My plan – to work through Callie’s worksheets. They’ll help me figure out those 3 tries with 7 animals. My goal – to have the story outlined, and the first 3 chapters done by the end of January. Here’s to finding story magic at the zoo!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!