• Developmental Editing
• Copy Editing
• Manuscript Critique
• Major Revision
• Ghostwriting and Collaboration
© 2008 Ricky Weisbroth
My comments to Larry S. are based on Chapters 1-2-3, working title: Working Title
You definitely can write.... However, I do have a couple of hefty criticisms.
Remember that we, the Reader, are relying on you to provide everything — EVERYTHING — that we might respond to. Your descriptions consistently fall short of the mark. Here are just a few examples of the kinds of opportunities you need to look for in the course of revision. They are mentioned here not in any sort of order.
During the gang battle, we should be able to smell the blood, hear the crunch of bones, smell the putrid stink of the boys' vomit, see the vomit drip from the tree leaves. When Sean visits Lou we should hear the competitive squeal of the seagulls and the swoosh of their wings as they dive for food, hear the slap of the water against the pilings or the boat, smell the water-logged wood, smell the engine oil floating in the marina, smell Lou's winey breath. You devote only a scant couple of sentences... how many boys, what ages, what do they look like (everyone white?), is Sean friends with any of them, how long has he been sailing, how did he get involved, what does it feel like to be out in the bay in various weather, the feel of the boat? Why does he love sailing? He's never gone hunting before but you tell us nothing about his excitement. Where did the gun come from, does he shop for appropriate hunting clothes, a sleeping bag? It sounds like he's never even slept in the backyard, much less gone camping. When he's out in the woods he just falls asleep, no awe at the expanse of the night sky, the night sounds of night critters, the freshness of the air....
Hand-in-glove with these physical descriptions and, I think, of even greater importance, is that you don't tell us what your characters are feeling. It is insufficient to say “...needed to sort things out... a horde of unmade decisions swirled in his mind... a maze of confusion.” After a few minutes of talking with Lou and mostly listening to another of his tall tales, Sean is remarkably — and unbelievably — transformed and won't give up what he loves. There's no depth to your description of teen angst. We don't feel how desperately Sean wants to belong, to be popular. We don't feel his longing for Kathy... Lou's tale should be a cautionary story about sacrificing one's self to group dynamics. When the boys go hunting there's no emotion, no connection or realization or recognition of the hugeness of life or the responsibility for taking a life. This is potentially powerful stuff and it's not only what will separate your book from the slush pile, it is what will make your book saleable.