Hollywood Schmooze writers critiqued each other's first five pages at their April meeting. Comments heard repeatedly included:
Introduce readers to your protagonist early. The group agreed that knowing the character taking you on the ride, determines whether or not you're likely to stay aboard. Several attendees asked that writers let them see into the protagonist's head.
"For me, it's a red flag if I don't identify with the protagonist," said one writer. "That's when the narrative seems like reporting."
Let readers hear and be able to identify the protagonist's voice. It's not only in dialogue that the protagonist speaks to readers. Even in narrative passages the reader wants to recognize the lead character's voice. When narrative reflects the protagonist's tone, readers can relax, knowing they are in the identifiable hands of the character guiding them through the work.
A question came up about what if there are two narrators in a work? Following discussion, the idea emerged that if there are two narrators, they must be equally strong, distinct, and well-drawn.
Build in details that support readers who may not share the writer's background knowledge.
In one piece of writing, a city in Italy was mistaken by some participants as the name of a character. Either name the country, or introduce some detail that lets readers know they are in Italy.
Several writers urged their colleagues to check out books about writing that they're currently reading. These included:
Martha Aldridge: The Plot Whisperer
Stephen Fry: The Ode Less Traveled
Stephen King: On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft
Anne Lamont: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Heather Sellers: Page After Page
Thanks to co-coordinator Deborah Fletcher Blum for emailing the writing samples and critique
forms to Schmooze partners.
---Jean Perry, Co-coordinator Hollywood Schmooze