Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 20: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Conrad Wesselhoeft

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.

Today’s "fist bump" high five comes from West Seattle author Conrad Wesselhoeft and his lovely daughter Jen:

Here are a few tasty shots of coffee from Conrad that I lifted off some of my manuscripts.(I am so blessed to have such a talented author write such helpful stuff on my manuscripts.)

Here's a first bit:

I’m concerned that the early paragraphs read more like a “telling” than a “showing.” Not that this is wrong--because the voice is so strong. Also, "telling" leads have been used to powerful effect by many successful YA writers. (This is classic Conrad; you can tell if you want but you better be brilliant.)

And more: On the other hand, your character seems bent on communicating a whirlwind of information right away. I'm not sure we need so much so soon. Information that might be better served as a full-blown scene. Would that scene be stronger if expanded, with full dialogue?
How about this great advice: I like this line’s snap and clarity: “I’m about fractals. They mirror life to me. …” These lines are good enough to open the book with. You have a good lead as is, but give it some thought.

or this:
Watch out for passive voice. A little's OK, but not more than that.

or this: Because this one line raises hairs on the arm, consider making this the end of a chapter, or at least a chapter break.

and last a cup of you-are-getting-there golden hot stuff:

Molly, I like where you're going with this. I want your character to go out in the world and become transformed. As a reader, I want to go with her. Others will, too.

I’ve had the honor of not only being Conrad’s friend but for a long time showing up at libraries and bookstores and bringing pages and spending hours going over our work making it stronger, better, richer. What a gift.

I hope these notes help you see the power of not going alone today. You are with friends. Keep working and come back for more of the hot java.

And here is a quote from his recently released novel. This one will really warm you up:

By itself, the moon rising is nothing. It's cliche. But the girl falling asleep and missing the moonrise is everything. It blasts the poem with pain and possibilities. Figure out what those possibilities are and you've got a poem. That's the secret -- to close your hand on jagged glass, then open it and find a butterfly. Conrad Wesselhoeft (Adios, Nirvana)

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