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  1. #1
    U.S. Ice Dance Junkie
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    My attempt at a skating novel

    Shamelessly self-promoting here. I've had this idea for many years and was encouraged to finally put it on paper. I've been working on it for awhile but have only recently worked up the nerve to post it publicly on a site where writers review each other's work. I thought maybe some people here would get a kick out of it. A couple of the early chapters are a little rough, but I'm hoping it gets more polished as it goes along. All characters are fictional. Here's the link:

    Life On the Edge
    My Blog - Author & Figure Skating Fanatic
    LIFE ON THE EDGE - my skating novel
    EDGE OF THE PAST - the sequel
    FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE - the final book in the trilogy
    ****CROSSING THE ICE - new book coming August 7, 2014!****

  2. #2
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    Thank you for sharing!


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    Good for you! Looks like the start of something good.

    If I may make a suggestion -- try pruning out some of the background detail and focusing on narrative. You want to grab and hold attention with a really strong narrative in the opening chapter. The background stuff can be woven in more subtly as you go along.
    Charter member of the "We Always Believed in Ashley" Club and the "We Believe in Ricky" Club
    Old, lonely, pathos-hungry, and extremely gullible

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyliefan View Post
    Good for you! Looks like the start of something good.

    If I may make a suggestion -- try pruning out some of the background detail and focusing on narrative. You want to grab and hold attention with a really strong narrative in the opening chapter. The background stuff can be woven in more subtly as you go along.
    Thanks for the suggestion! The first chapter has been in a constant state of re-work and I appreciate any feedback I can get.
    My Blog - Author & Figure Skating Fanatic
    LIFE ON THE EDGE - my skating novel
    EDGE OF THE PAST - the sequel
    FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE - the final book in the trilogy
    ****CROSSING THE ICE - new book coming August 7, 2014!****

  5. #5
    Corgi Wrangler
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    Agree with Wyliefan--that's a HUGE exposition dump at the start. You might want to think about things like introducing characters with dialog--instead of the narrator yakking for a page about her backstory, have her talking to Sergei and her partner and slip the backstory in.

    Also, "said" is not a dirty word. Try not to use too many other dialog tags ("exclaimed", "called", "offered", "cried", etc.) They lose effectiveness really fast. There is no prize for most variation on 'said.'

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyliefan View Post
    Good for you! Looks like the start of something good.

    If I may make a suggestion -- try pruning out some of the background detail and focusing on narrative. You want to grab and hold attention with a really strong narrative in the opening chapter. The background stuff can be woven in more subtly as you go along.
    That would be my suggestion as well. Lots of exposition at the beginning turns readers off. Start with the story--start with that standing ovation at the end of the free skate that your character remembers in the beginning. Pull readers in by letting them see that moment. Number one writing rule: SHOW the readers instead of telling them.

  7. #7
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    I have to agree with Wyliefan, get rid of all the info dump stuff in the first several chapters; you can work that kind of thing in later, piece meal. Secondly, there's not much in your novel, so far, to pull the reader into whatever the story is. I found myself skipping over a lot of it (just skimming through chapters---not good ) while looking for something to hook my attention and give me a reason to continue reading.

    Writing from a first person point of view is tough no matter how you approach it and I think that's one of the problems with this story. It reads more like a diary entry than a novel, per se, not that there's anything wrong with writing it that way, lol. It's just when you call it a "novel" you expect the chapters to be set up and flow like a novel. This doesn't.

  8. #8

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    My biggest recommendation is to keep writing, and to continue to be willing to listen to constructive feedback. All writers start somewhere. Keep writing! Your next story will be better. The one after that, better. Your 100th, better.

    My recommendation: show, don't tell. Don't tell what happened - show us. On page 1 of your story, you have the main character give tons of backstory as part of a daydream. Cut all of that. If it's important, work it into the story in another way.

    IMO, one of the most important parts of the story is the beginning. It has to grab the reader. And each scene should add real value to the story, or else it should be cut. The scene should drive the story forward. So think about your dinner scene on page 1 - what is that adding to the story? If it's not driving the story forward, cut it.

    Below is something from Dean Wesley Smith, an editor and successful writer, which really has helped me as I've developed my own fiction writing. I paraphrase and quote it here because to my knowledge, it no longer exists online, so I can't link.

    I'm only including the hints that apply to this topic, so yes, there are gaps between "hints". That's me editing out stuff that doesn't apply to this topic.

    -----

    Hint #9: "....and....ACTION!"
    Unlike many of the episodes on television, short stories need to start with the character in some sort of problem. It doesn't have to be the main problem of the story, but the character must be doing something. Don't open a story with the crew just sitting around. Some famous writer once said "Open in the middle of the gunfight and then don't tell the reader where you are." (Can't remember who said that, but sometimes that works. <g>) Better than characters talking about their routine day. <g>


    Hint #11: No Said Bookisms!
    A "said-bookism" is when an author uses another word instead of the word "said." For example:

    "This dust always gets me, "he sneezed
    or
    "I really am alone," he soliloquized.

    After about three or four of these in a manuscript, I start laughing and forget about the story, and that is not a good thing to have an editor do. Just use the word "said."

    [Garr inserting something here - readers tend to gloss over the word "said", so don't worry about using it a lot. It's transparent to the reader. However, if you start using other things instead of "said", you end up calling attention to those words rather than to your story - and that is not what you want to do. So stick with the basics, "said", "asked", etc.]


    Hint #14: No talking heads in the opening of stories.
    Okay, "talking heads" is when the writer just starts off with dialogue and nothing more. In essence, just two heads in a white space, talking.
    Example of opening this way:

    "Hi, Jim," Pete said.
    Hi, Pete," Jim said.
    "Too bad about that game last night," Pete said.
    "Yeah, too bad," Jim said.

    And so on and so on. Where are these guys? What do they look like? What are they talking about and why should the reader care? All of those questions have to be answered in the opening of the story before the reader can handle that exchange above. Best rule of thumb: Put all five senses on the first page, seen from one character's point of view. Hard to do, trust me. But at least then the reader (and the editor) would be grounded in your story. After the reader is grounded in location and problem of the story, then there can be all the talking a writer wants. And it wouldn't be talking heads.

    [Garr inserting something here - as an example, in your story, you mention that the action in scene 1 takes place in a specific arena. What if your reader has never been to that arena? Describe the scene. What does the character see, hear, even smell? The roar of the crowd? Sweat on her forehead? No need to go into pages and pages of detail, but set the scene from the POV of the character.]


    Hint #19: Proper use of Person and Tense
    Use third person, past tense, when writing a story.
    Okay, a few words here. Yes, first person stories work just fine, and half of the Captain's Table book I just turned in was first person. And yes, it is possible to write stories that work in present tense. So don't go quoting a billion examples at me. <g>
    However, doing stories right takes a bunch of skills, as is being pointed out in this topic. First person stories take even more skills, and first person, present tense stories are damn near impossible to pull off. And don't even talk to me about second person stories. So my suggestion, and this rule, is that you stick with third person, past tense, in stories until you've written a few hundred of them.


    Hint #21: Get inside your character's head.
    Climb inside your character's head right from the first line and stay in there, only seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling what they can feel. If you do this right, then your story will become real to the readers.
    Last edited by GarrAarghHrumph; 06-09-2010 at 06:36 PM.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

  9. #9
    U.S. Ice Dance Junkie
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    Thanks for all of the comments, especially yours, Garr. The information you provided is very helpful. I should've mentioned that the last time I wrote fiction was when I was thirteen, which was many moons ago. So, I'm pretty much winging it and trying to figure out what I'm doing as I go along.
    My Blog - Author & Figure Skating Fanatic
    LIFE ON THE EDGE - my skating novel
    EDGE OF THE PAST - the sequel
    FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE - the final book in the trilogy
    ****CROSSING THE ICE - new book coming August 7, 2014!****

  10. #10

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    I hope we're not piling on you too much!
    Charter member of the "We Always Believed in Ashley" Club and the "We Believe in Ricky" Club
    Old, lonely, pathos-hungry, and extremely gullible

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyliefan View Post
    I hope we're not piling on you too much!
    I appreciate the feedback! It gives me something to think about as I continue working. This is something I'm doing for fun (I'm not looking to get published), so I don't want to get too bogged down with it, but I do want to learn as much as I can. If anyone gets past the first chapter, there is a lot less narration after the first two chapters. It just took me a little while to get comfortable with dialogue.
    My Blog - Author & Figure Skating Fanatic
    LIFE ON THE EDGE - my skating novel
    EDGE OF THE PAST - the sequel
    FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE - the final book in the trilogy
    ****CROSSING THE ICE - new book coming August 7, 2014!****

  12. #12

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    I'm just the opposite -- I LOVE writing dialogue and am fairly good at it, I think, but I'm subpar at most other elements. Especially bad at settings and atmosphere. I'd be quite happy writing a novel made up entirely of dialogue!

    But in the fiction department, I've only written fanfic. So I really do admire you for trying your hand at real fiction!
    Charter member of the "We Always Believed in Ashley" Club and the "We Believe in Ricky" Club
    Old, lonely, pathos-hungry, and extremely gullible

  13. #13

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    Oh, come on, TanithandBenFan! You can't leave it at chapter 15. I need to know what happens next!

  14. #14
    U.S. Ice Dance Junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyliefan View Post
    I'm just the opposite -- I LOVE writing dialogue and am fairly good at it, I think, but I'm subpar at most other elements. Especially bad at settings and atmosphere. I'd be quite happy writing a novel made up entirely of dialogue!

    But in the fiction department, I've only written fanfic. So I really do admire you for trying your hand at real fiction!
    I'll have to pick your brain sometime then. At first I couldn't get the dialogue to sound natural, but I think I've gotten a little better at it.

    Quote Originally Posted by hanca View Post
    Oh, come on, TanithandBenFan! You can't leave it at chapter 15. I need to know what happens next!
    Whee! Someone made it to Ch. 15! Don't worry, I've already written 102 chapters (seriously ) - it's just a matter of me doing some major editing and posting them on the site.
    Last edited by TanithandBenFan; 06-09-2010 at 09:53 PM.
    My Blog - Author & Figure Skating Fanatic
    LIFE ON THE EDGE - my skating novel
    EDGE OF THE PAST - the sequel
    FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE - the final book in the trilogy
    ****CROSSING THE ICE - new book coming August 7, 2014!****

  15. #15
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    Noel Streatfield had a very distinctive way of writing dialogue - she rarely wrote "he said" or "she said". She would write an action, then write what the character said.
    For example:
    Jane came into the room.
    "Would you like a drink?"
    Sally looked up from her book.
    "Yes please."

    I personally find that style of writing makes it very easy to visualise what's happening. Don't know if that's any help to you though.

  16. #16
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    Looking forward to reading your link.

    You've inspired me to revisit a novel I wrote 20 years ago. May have to change it b/c back then, there were still compulsory figures and the 6.0.

  17. #17
    Saint Smugpawski
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    Quote Originally Posted by essence_of_soy View Post
    You've inspired me to revisit a novel I wrote 20 years ago. May have to change it b/c back then, there were still compulsory figures and the 6.0.
    No! Don't change it! Historical fiction rocks!
    The fastest thing out of New Jersey since Tricky Nicky in a Muscovian handbasket

  18. #18
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    Good Start TanithandBenFan, keep up your work! Lots of fabulous advice here already! Developing writing skills takes loads of practice and lots of support and suggestions! With all of us reading/writing types, we should start an FSU writing club! That way we can support each other with healthy constructive feedback...anyone interested?

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    With all of us reading/writing types, we should start an FSU writing club! That way we can support each other with healthy constructive feedback...anyone interested?
    I, for one, would be interested in that. I'll bet there are others as well.

  20. #20
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    An FSU writing club sounds fun. I've written plenty of skating fiction over the years, although I am working on a different novel now. Still, some names or little details from my old skating serial do pop up in the new book, as one of the supporting characters is a 40-year-old ex-skater who gave up the sport to become a high school teacher. In the mid-1980s, he trained at one of my fictional rinks with one of my fictional coaches.

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