Yesterday I received my prize for winning first place in the Fiction Writing Contest at the recent Orange County Christian Writers Conference: a detailed critique of my query letter and fifty pages of my manuscript-in-progress, Time of Death, by Andy Meisenheimer and Beth Jusino of The Editorial Department, an industry leader in book editing and manuscript development.
I’ll admit I’ve been nervous these past two weeks, knowing that every line of the chapters I submitted was being reviewed and evaluated by an actual editor. What a thrill to read in the critique that I’ve employed “a poetic/narrative third-person technique” that “works wonderfully” and a “gentle, foreboding tone” I should engage more consistently. I’ve been criticized in other forums for this narrative voice (also referred to as my intruding or interloping narrator), whose portentous tenor and omniscience I’ve come to depend on and appreciate.
While I confess to honing in first on the sections of the critique in which passages of my novel were deemed “excellent” and “beautifully constructed,” particularly as they tended to be the same passages with which I am most pleased as the author, I am sincerely grateful for the obvious close reading of my submission by the editors and their insightful and relevant feedback. Their comments and suggestions make perfect sense, and I now know exactly what I need to do to elevate this project to the next level. Further, I have a better understanding of the Christian fiction market and how to pitch this manuscript when the time comes.
I’m encouraged to hear that I have a solid story and a seeming aptitude for the craft. There is still much work to be done, and classes at Chapman resume in two months, but for now, at least, it appears I’m on the right track.