I sent my entry, White
with Fish, Red with Murder, off to the Minotaur "Best First P.I. Novel
Contest" today. I set out to give
the novel a once over before submitting it and ended up doing a re-write the
last six weeks or so, and there was a contest deadline of July 2, so I've let
other things slip a bit.
I cut more than 3,000 words from book. What I ended up with was much better than
what I started with. Why? Well, despite the fact that this story has
been with me for more years than I care to admit, I think I came at it with a
new mind. I recognize it as the same old
story, but in working through it again, I believe that I found a better way to
tell it. Perhaps the right way to tell
the story, the way I've been struggling for all along.
How did I do that?
Part of it is experience as a writer.
When I first put this story down on paper, it was the first detective
story or novel I'd attempted. Now I've
sold three short stories and published another for the Kindle, and I've written
a novel and two-thirds of another.
Part of it is learning.
I took a Stanford class last year, and four of us have continued for
some 12-14 months to exchange and critique our work. My online pals don't write detective fiction,
but they seem to have a commitment to read mind with an open mind and respond
to it with more seriousness than it deserves. I learn from their feedback and from reading their work.
I also took a class at the Writers' Center in Bethesda this
spring led by Jim Matthews. I believe
that class showed me how to cut 17 pages from the beginning of my book, without losing anything the reader needs.
So, look out First P.I. Novel contest entrants. Here comes White with Fish, Red with Murder.