Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My ABNA Review

First off, my story, Starsong, did not make the cut to 250. I didn't expect it to, though it would've been nice. Very nice. But there were 2000 entries to choose from! That's a whole lot of fiction, and my contemporary YA up against all that fantasy .... well, I didn't have high expectations.

BUT ... it was totally worth entering for the review alone. Starsong was my NaNo project. I wrote it fast and revised a few times over the last few months. It's been a great piece of work for me to learn from, as I've had a lot of critiques on it through various contests. It was a learning tool, and while I did have high hopes for seeing it published, realistically, it's not my favorite story. It was just one I had to tell.

You can find the premise on my sidebar under Projects.

So here is the review I received from the professional:

 What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

This has an immediate hook, and the cadence is spot-on. Wynonna's shame at being discovered by Tanner is authentic, and his response, just like a cool skater guy, is also genuine. The conversation in the car with her best friend is also crackling. I loved her line, "He's a shocking fit for you." Very fresh. The transitions are clever. There is a lot of teenage levity here.

What aspect needs the most work?

Three small points. the first sentence, although it works can also be a killer for a book. How many teenage girls "just want to die" over something?

Although the dialog is authentic, it sometimes smacks of cliche, as if the writer decided on the easiest word choice. The same happens at intervals with the self-reflections of Wynonna. "My poor ego is about to be pulverized" and "a look that could shoot lasers" and a few other minor points.

Also, Wynonna's mother is right. She is mad at her, but regardless of whether her mother never worked a day in her life, her mother is rightly pointing out Wynonna's lack of responsibility. However, the fact that the title is STARSONG is telling, and I suspect that, by the end of the story, mom and daughter will be on firmer ground.

There may be too much foreshadowing, as the title predicts that either mom or Wynonna will get to sing that song before the story is over.and the conflict with her mother is destined

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

This author has talent and is aware of the craft of writing and what makes a good story. I was compelled through the entire excerpt. The rhythm is spot-on, the transitions crackle, and the characters are animated and witty. I also like the addition of Sami to shake things up.

I am concerned that the characters may turn into stereotypes, or that we have already heard this story before in 200 different ways (girl finds true love, girl and mom resolve their conflicts, girl gets a taste of celebrity), but I will bite. This is very good.

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

This story will definitely appeal to young teen girls. The whole drama between Wynona and the boy she likes seeing her notebook is realistic and interesting. I also think that the relationship between Wynona and her mom will appeal to teenage girls.

What aspect needs the most work?

Eh, some of the actual writing was slightly cringe-worthy. I think it would benefit a little reworking. However the base story is good and I think it would sell.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

This seems to be a mild, yet enjoyable piece of teen fiction. I also think that it will sell. There is some cleaning up that needs to be done but I think the overall themes will appeal.

Okay, so it wasn't a fabulous review, and the "cringe-worthy" comment bruises the ego a bit, but overall, I felt totally validated by this. I actually get the cringe worthy comment pretty well. Mainly, because I just watched the movie, The Proposal, with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. It was cute, predictable, and humorous ... but there were parts of the script that made me cringe just a tad. It's all a matter of personal opinion. I liked the movie, even teared up at the end, but it was weak in parts.

Right now, I'm all over that "author has talent" comment and it's pumping me up for my next story. Maybe Starsong will make it into print someday and maybe it won't, but I gave it my best shot and told the story with all my heart and soul. And that's all you can do, right?

Now, to totally change the subject:

Arlee Bird has an awesome post today on blog follower expectations. And Nas Dean is hosting an interview with Roland Yeomans with a book giveaway! Also, I recently won a MG book from author Julie Wright called, Hazzardous Universe, that I can't wait to read. Check it, and all her books, out here

So what say you, bleeps? Do you have stories that are proverbial stepping stones to the real dazzler? It's hard to think of any story we sweat over as just a stepping stone, but alas, that's what they sometimes turn out as. And that's okay. It doesn't make them any less special. Your thoughts?

37 comments:

Kathryn said...

Congrats on the reviews! There are some great points in there, author with talent! Wow!! Sure, there's always going to be something that a reader doesn't like, but overall, good work! Very proud of you! :)

Mary said...

Thanks for sharing these comments with us. It's neat to see what others have to say. As for stepping stones in writing, yeah I have a lot. I just shelved a WIP I've been playing with for about two+ years as I can't get a grasp on the story I am trying to tell. I love my characters and the setting, but the story I want to tell just isn't there. I only wished I'd realized it before I tried to get an agent with it!

Best of luck with your new WIP!

Kittie Howard said...

PK, with all due respect, I think this was a super fab review. She liked waaaaay more than she disliked (and that could probably be cleaned up in little time.) She's pretty much knocked you on the head and said the book could sell. Girl, why not walk away for a few weeks and return? You've written some good stuff. Please don't toss it out!!

Jaydee Morgan said...

Any time you can get good feedback, it's invaluable. Learn from it and keep going - and definitely savor the good stuff!

I have a couple manuscripts under my bed which I sure hope have helped to improve my writing.

Old Kitty said...

Wonderful ABNA feedback!! Wonderful!!! Onwards and upwards now! Take care
x

Trisha said...

I think all in all those reviews are pretty cool - you've obviously got a good thing here and it can only get better! :)

Sophia Richardson said...

I'm going to second everyone else and say the good feedback outweighed the bad, the words 'it would sell' in particular spell good things. I think my current WIP might be a stepping stone-- much as I love the characters and look forward to toying with their heads and the setting, it's not high concept and could be *too* character-driven. Still, fun and instructive for me to write!
- Sophia.

Michael Di Gesu said...

You should be high on that review. Talent and "It will sell!" That's great! So my question... Why did they pass you up?

I'm glad you had a good experience from ABNA. You should definitely clean it up and query it. Sounds like you have your first publishable book.

Congrats,

Michael

Raquel Byrnes said...

That was some really helpful critique. Do you feel you learned a lot? I'm glad you participated. Sometimes its hard just to do that.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Summer Ross said...

You got some great feedback! I have plenty for stepping stones.

Arlee Bird said...

Congratulations for going for this opportunity. You're a winner from the standpoint of the teaching that was offered to you and if you learned something then that was a prize. Sounds like you've got something going for you.

Thanks for the mention of my post.

Lee
Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Mark R Hunter said...

Well, at least you and I are in good company!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Thanks for the link, PK. That was very nice of you.

Like the others said, I think you have a winner there, just in need of polishing up. I knock on wood for you -- thunk, thunk on my head

Like to see my career-changing review?

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

At first I thought the story to be original, but then I recalled the latest Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog. There were shadows that attacked people and dragged them to hell, I suppose. There was the Shadowman, and in this Shadowlands was the word used. The setting of New Orleans is also the same as in the Disney movie. There were more similarities than I thought could be overlooked.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

Overall, I thought the excerpt was weak. The concept of the story is very similar to the Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog (the shadows coming up and dragging people off, and the setting of New Orleans itself).
***

I've never seen THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG. The shadows are also in THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS, a tale told me decades ago by my mother.

Upon reading that review, I decided .... Well, that is for next month.

I wish you success in your publication dreams. Roland

Lo said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! I was getting excited/motivated reading the reviews, and it's not even my story. I think we all have cringe worthy aspects of our stories, but how do we know how to fix them unless we ask for critique? Well done!

Laura said...

Hi PK - congratulations on the reviews - concentrate on those great bits and let anything else just filter out. Well done, I'm in awe!
Lx

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Excellent review, mane excellent reading,

Yvonne,

Pk Hrezo said...

THanks, guys! Your comments give me such encouragement.

Roland, don't you hate that?? Just because your idea happened to be similar to someone else's it's unoriginal. Lame-o. It's just one person's opinion anyway.

Clarissa Draper said...

I didn't know ABNA gave your work back with a critique! How cool is that! And it's an awesome critique. Those are things you can work on to improve your work.

Melissa Bradley said...

Excellent critiques, something you can definitely use to improve your work which is always a good thing. I have many stories that have become learning tools, but some hopefully will be reworked with the newly acquired knowledge. Best of luck with Starsong, it does sound intriguing.

LTM said...

argh. Sorry you didn't get in. And those are the toughest "rejections" to get--the ones that go on and on about how great and sparkly your writing is and how "this will sell"... but no thanks!

Hang in there. I think the take-home message is you've got a winner~ :o) <3

N. R. Williams said...

Those are nice reviews of your work.

I believe that agents and publisher can spot good fiction from years of experience. But I do not think they are in tune with the readers. This is why so many 'indie' writers are doing so well on Amazon kindle. Readers have discovered 'fresh' voices and they are talking about it on the Amazon forums.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

T C Mckee said...

Ugh, stepping stones are so hard. But to me, there's no reason to completely shelf a story. Maybe temporarily, but if you truly love the story's concept, why not go back to it later? I've moved onto other things when I felt like it was time, but somehow, I always end up getting a new idea, or a brand new outlook for the shelved story. Going back later can change things dramatically. But I'm sure you already know that. I wouldn't let this go forever. Maybe for awhile, but go back to it. And who says you can't throw in some fantasy elements to STARSONG. There are not enough singing vampires and werethingy's if you ask me. Just saying.

Jennifer Jackson said...

You could definitely fix up what's wrong and publish it! I have never had anyone look at my fiction and tell me flat out "it could sell."
Wow!

Other posters are right when they say the reviewer mentioned a lot more positive than negative. I think this is a sign for you, PK!

kmckendry said...

Wow that's great. I would say if any professional says "you have a lot of talent" and "it could sell", you should be really pumped up! Great job. I agree that a lot of what we do is just a step to a higher level. We all have to review and revise to make ourselves grow and if we can learn to do that eventually we will break through to the top! Keep up the good work. :)

Holly Ruggiero said...

That seemed like a pretty good review. The reviewer even stated it is sellable material – awesome. Maybe work on something else for a while and then come back to it.

Gina Blechman said...

Congrats! Even without making it in the 200 range, the reviews are great, particularly the first one. Good luck!

<3 Gina Blechman

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, I think those sound good--that 'cringe-worthy' from the second MAY related to exactly the couple cliches the first pointed out, and that is pretty darned few weaknesses to deal with (and not overly difficult).

I hope you plan to address those, as I bet you could find an agent and publisher to take on the story!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I think these were great reviews! To say it would sell? So awesome. Congrats on getting such great feedback, even if it does sting a little. At least you know what to work on and how to improve it a little more before you send it out to agents. :D So awesome!

Elena Solodow said...

Both reviews sounded like they came from an honest place, which is good, but I'm sorry to hear you didn't make it to the next level. Write on, eh?

The Words Crafter said...

I totally agree with you about the movie, The Proposal.

As for the reviews, I'd say, overall, they're worth celebrating! Nothing really negative was said and it could all be fixed with some editing. Wow, you should be feeling pretty darn good!!!

The Golden Eagle said...

Great critiques. To have "it will sell" coming from an expert--wow. It sounds like your novel could definitely go places! :)

Florence said...

That was wonderful feedback and you should listen to some of the advice here ... or listen to the voice in your head ...

Great Stuff :)

McKenzie McCann said...

That's a fantastic review. It sounds very helpful. Although, 'cringe-worthy' seems a little harsh. Well, if you didn't do a lot of proof-reading, that might have been an issue. Expert readers are pretty good at dividing conventions from good writing. It doesn't make or break the piece (usually) but they can see the quality of the true story.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Wow - getting feedback like that is fantastically helpful! As long as you can keep it in perspective (like all feedback), what a great thing to keep you moving on the journey! :)

Kari Marie said...

Wow! Your feedback was wonderful! Keep going, you have a "sellable" novel.

erica and christy said...

Those were pretty good. I actually received 2 really good Vine reviews on my submission, also, but didn't go through. One said some internal thoughts about her death "dragged" on too long (it was a couple paragraphs, so I'm not sure...) and one said although it was very commercially marketable for teen girls, it wasn't something an adult would probably read. Which is totally fine with me, as a YA romance.

Yeah, why didn't we move on?? :)
erica

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