On Wednesday I met with Charlotte Cook of Adapting Sideways, had my intro interview, and was accepted into the 7-week class run by her and he partner, Jon James Miller.
Frankly, I approached this meeting with trepidation. I’ve been studying writing for a long time, and have consistently thought that I knew what I was doing, and that any problems apparent in my work were just a matter of practice and observation. OK, fine, practice and observation are valuable, and one can learn a lot by just keeping an open mind and reading critically.
In this meeting I presented three pages of the much-vaunted fourth re-write of FIVE, my para-psychological novel. Previous to the meeting I’d spent hours going over the document, editing, polishing, looking for every bit of punctuation or formatting misadventure I could find, and believed I had a water-tight set of pages.
Before she read the first word, Charlotte announced that the writing was “light”.
I almost choked. Then she explained.
I’ve somehow gotten the idea that pace is improved by short sentences and paragraphs.
What she explained was that not only do you need a strong first sentence (these are the first three pages of the re-write), you need to hook the reader by giving enough solid information to involve the reader in the action.
Wait, I thought. I already know that. I do all that. Right?
Nope. This was a case of knowing and doing being in different camps.
This isn’t to say she didn’t find some good writing in the ms. She did, and I was delighted that some of the sentences, ideas, and turns of phrase lit her up.
I am delighted to be in her course. I can feel changes in my thinking already, and the changes feel right. In fact, I find that after a single hour with her, I’m reading and hearing in a different way already.
Concerns, get ye gone! This is gonna be good!