What I learned at Napa Valley

In the blurb for the Napa Valley Writers conference it said you had to send a 7,500-word excerpt of your novel in to be critqued. My reason for going to the conference was to get some much-needed feedback, because, as any writer will tell you, getting good quality feedback is a huge problem.

As I said in an earlier post, you cannot assume agents will give you any meaningful feedback (aside form the it-didn’t-knock-socks-off or it-isn’t-right-for-my-list variety) even though you may have given them a 3-month exclusive. Infuriating? Yes. The only thing you can do about it is to NOT to let them have that exclusive for longer than it suits you.

In any event, I decided that I needed help with the middle of my novel, which deals with the politics of the Wars of the Roses. So I carved off a huge bleeding chunk and sent it off.

The weeks rolled around, and one day I found myself sitting in class awaiting my critique. I was sure everyone was going to hate it. I braced myself for the worst, and was surprised by good news.

I breathed a sigh of relief. I must be doing something right. The problem I’d had was that my main character was having 13 children in 17 years, while her husband got caught up in the intricacies of court politics. I racked my brains to find some way of making this potentially mind-numbingly info palatable, and hit upon the idea of doing crowd scenes, then interleaving these scenes with interior monolog and narrative summary. Somehow, all my hard work had paid off.

Next: I get a referral to an agent

Image: Tudor Rose, intstudycen.com

–Cynthia Haggard writes novels.  She is currently seeking representation for ONE SEED SOWN, TWO MURDERS REAPED, the Richard III story told from the point of view of his mother. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2010. All rights reserved.

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