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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Writing Challenges » First Chapter Challenge (Page 1)

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Author Topic: First Chapter Challenge
Meredith
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Okay. With everything I've got going and coming up, I'm probably totally crazy to suggest this, but when has being crazy ever stopped me? Don't answer that.

So, I propose a first chapter challenge. In self defense, I'm going to put a cap of 3000 words on it. If your first chapter is longer than that, tough. IME, most agents who ask for a writing sample along with the query only want five to ten pages. 3000 words is a tad more generous than that.

We'll run this something like the WotF group. That means:
  • If we get too many people, we'll break it up into smaller groups. Then the winner from each group will be read by all participants and be voted on again.
  • E-mail your chapter directly to your critique partners. Same with critiques. Only the votes need to come through me.
  • Vote for the chapter that would most make you want to read on. Five points for a first place vote, three for second, one for third.

Schedule:
  • Sign up by adding your name to the list by March 1st.
  • Groups assigned (if necessary) on March 2nd and email your chapters.
  • First round of critiques and votes by March 31st.
  • Second round (if necessary) by April 15th. (The number of chapters should be smaller. If not, I may move this date.)


[ February 15, 2012, 02:40 PM: Message edited by: Meredith ]

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Meredith
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Participants: Copy this list and add your name. If you include your title and genre, I'll try to match up the first groups (if needed) as much as possible.

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy

[ February 14, 2012, 08:52 PM: Message edited by: Meredith ]

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snapper
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Does it have to be a novel, Meredith? I have two works that are long novelettes or short novellas (depending on your definition) that are broken up into chapters.
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wirelesslibrarian
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Yes, please. I've let my novel sit for too long.

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy

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genevive42
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I'll enter that challenge with 1500 words.

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by snapper:
Does it have to be a novel, Meredith? I have two works that are long novelettes or short novellas (depending on your definition) that are broken up into chapters.

Who am I to discriminate?
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RoxyL
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This sounds wonderful!
A question, though. My chapters are very short (the first is only 925 words long). Can I do two chapters to equal ~2400 words (that's about 12 pages)?

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LDWriter2
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Okay I give it a shot, even though I have four to choose from but I think I know which one to use. This is the one I have been calling New Mage but decided it's time for a better title. This isn't it but it's closer.

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy

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Owasm
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I will likewise give it a shot. Meredith has read most of my novel beginnings, but that's okay, I've read a draft of Seven Stars. It should be fun.

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy

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MartinV
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I wouldn't call it a novel but I'll play along. My actual novel has longer chapters so I'm putting in my short story (the bugger's not so short anymore).

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy

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shimiqua
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Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy

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RoxyL
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Well, one way or another, I'm definitely in.

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy

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MattLeo
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I've got couple of first chapters kicking around I could chip in. *Baudwynn and the Rising Star* is a fantasy/satire; *The Keystone* is a romantic comedy/space opera. Any preferences? I notice everyone else is doing some kind of fantasy.
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Meredith
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@RoxyL: Bearing in mind that some agents will ask only for the first chapter, I won't complain as long as the entire submission is 3000 words or less.

@MattLeo: Whichever you want. Yeah, the list is heavy on fantasy right now, but it's only been one day and the deadline isn't for a couple of weeks. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some science fiction before we're done.

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LDWriter2
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I may not be able to continue though. I have more to cut out of the chapter than I thought unless I want to leave you guys with half of a battle.

I do need to cut much of the back ground I put in anyway but I don't know if I can cut that much and finish the battle.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
I may not be able to continue though. I have more to cut out of the chapter than I thought unless I want to leave you guys with half of a battle.

I do need to cut much of the back ground I put in anyway but I don't know if I can cut that much and finish the battle.

There are still a couple of weeks. Just let us know by March 1st.
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genevive42
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quote:
I may not be able to continue though. I have more to cut out of the chapter than I thought unless I want to leave you guys with half of a battle.

I do need to cut much of the back ground I put in anyway but I don't know if I can cut that much and finish the battle.

Is there no breaking point before the battle? I ask because the judging is supposed to be based on which chapter would most make you want to read on. Can you work your existing material aiming for that criteria?

Just a thought.

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Natej11
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quote:
Originally posted by RoxyL:
Well, one way or another, I'm definitely in.

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy

Just wanted to add a thanks for organizing this. After taking an extensive writing break for various things, including a part time editing job, I finally decided to sit down and get this book done. I'm grateful for anything that helps keep me motivated [Smile] .
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Tiergan
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quote:

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy
Tiergan, KNIGHTS VALOR, Fantasy

Alright I am in.
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MattLeo
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Okee dokee, I'll buck the trend and contribute a sci-fi chapter:
quote:

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy
Tiergan, KNIGHTS VALOR, Fantasy
MattLeo, THE KEYSTONE, Space Opera/Romantic Comedy


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rcmann
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I have one that has been gathering dust for a dismally long time. I would like to get back to it, now that I have some hope of getting feedback.

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy
Tiergan, KNIGHTS VALOR, Fantasy
MattLeo, THE KEYSTONE, Space Opera/Romantic Comedy
rcmann, THE PATTERNS OF CHAOS, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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snapper
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Bummer. The novella opening I wanted to enter is too long. Looks like I'm out
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RoxanneCrouse
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I'll add a first chapter. Fantasy YA
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by RoxanneCrouse:
I'll add a first chapter. Fantasy YA

In that case:

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy
Tiergan, KNIGHTS VALOR, Fantasy
MattLeo, THE KEYSTONE, Space Opera/Romantic Comedy
rcmann, THE PATTERNS OF CHAOS, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
RoxanneCrouse, NO TITLE GIVEN, YA Fantasy

(That way, I can keep count of who's in, which will help with making up the groups.)

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Crank
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This sounds like fun.

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy
Tiergan, KNIGHTS VALOR, Fantasy
MattLeo, THE KEYSTONE, Space Opera/Romantic Comedy
rcmann, THE PATTERNS OF CHAOS, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
RoxanneCrouse, NO TITLE GIVEN, YA Fantasy
Crank, ORACLE OF SENTRY RIDGE, YA

S!

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LDWriter2
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quote:
Is there no breaking point before the battle? I ask because the judging is supposed to be based on which chapter would most make you want to read on. Can you work your existing material aiming for that criteria?

Just a thought.

I called it a battle but it's more than that. My MC finds someone that needs help, the people after that person find them and they head out back where the battle happens. Even there I'm not sure if battle is the right term. There's a fight against two groups. One group is almost a cliche but the main fight is against something you don't expect to find in the back alley of a city. I hope anyway.
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LDWriter2
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I cut around one and half to two thousand words and am half way through the chapter but still have 3,600 words to go. Gonna be tough.
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RobED
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Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy
Tiergan, KNIGHTS VALOR, Fantasy
MattLeo, THE KEYSTONE, Space Opera/Romantic Comedy
rcmann, THE PATTERNS OF CHAOS, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
RoxanneCrouse, NO TITLE GIVEN, YA Fantasy
Crank, ORACLE OF SENTRY RIDGE, YA
RobED, SHATTERED EMPIRE, SCI-FI/Fantasy

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LDWriter2
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I need to get my going, I want to read Martin's

Steampunk fantasy --- great.

Rob's sound's interesting also.

Most seem to be some form of fantasy which is okay , most of which sounds good also. Including NO TITLE GIVEN [Smile]


Of course maybe I should just write a new chapter, I can make sure it's only 3,000 words. I do happen to have a page in a new UFnovel but then again how about a steampunk western or steampunk UF?

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Meredith
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Whatever you want, LD. I know you have more than one book in the works.
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Crashburn274
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New here; what does WotF mean?

Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy
Tiergan, KNIGHTS VALOR, Fantasy
MattLeo, THE KEYSTONE, Space Opera/Romantic Comedy
rcmann, THE PATTERNS OF CHAOS, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
RoxanneCrouse, NO TITLE GIVEN, YA Fantasy
Crank, ORACLE OF SENTRY RIDGE, YA
RobED, SHATTERED EMPIRE, SCI-FI/Fantasy
Crash, LAST DAYS OF FUSPMAR, Fantasy

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genevive42
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WotF = Writers of the Future, an ongoing contest for amateur fantasy and sf writers
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LDWriter2
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Oops, today's the 25th whatever chapter I use I better get going, none are that short... with the possible exception of one I still need to check.

If I work on nothing else today, not counting chores, I can get the shortening of my original choice done.

If that doesn't work out I can try my newest first chapter which has only 1,900 words to cut. And an interesting battle. Or another First Chapter that doesn't really have a battle.

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aspirit
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Meredith, thanks for grouping entries by genre. I'm hoping such grouping will minimize the influence of personal biases.

Participants:
Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, TWO STRUGGLES, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy
Tiergan, KNIGHTS VALOR, Fantasy
MattLeo, THE KEYSTONE, Space Opera/Romantic Comedy
rcmann, THE PATTERNS OF CHAOS, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
RoxanneCrouse, NO TITLE GIVEN, YA Fantasy
Crank, ORACLE OF SENTRY RIDGE, YA
RobED, SHATTERED EMPIRE, SCI-FI/Fantasy
Crash, LAST DAYS OF FUSPMAR, Fantasy
aspirit, REFLECTIONS IN THE NIGHT, YA Romantic Sci-Fi

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LDWriter2
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Decided Two Struggles is out. No way I can cut another 3,500 words.

However I decided that my new novel, "Stone Within" Has a first chapter I can cut down to 3,000 words even if I have to cut more for this challenge than I would normally.

But Two Struggles needed the cutting and so does Stone Within's chapter so this was in no way a waste of time. I believe Two Struggles is better now--- if I can get chapters two and three the way I want them. I revised some of Stone, so far, and I took out a couple of things I needed really need anyway. Changed something else so as they say it's all good.

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LDWriter2
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Same genre so :

Participants:
Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, STONE WITHIN, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy
Tiergan, KNIGHTS VALOR, Fantasy
MattLeo, THE KEYSTONE, Space Opera/Romantic Comedy
rcmann, THE PATTERNS OF CHAOS, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
RoxanneCrouse, NO TITLE GIVEN, YA Fantasy
Crank, ORACLE OF SENTRY RIDGE, YA
RobED, SHATTERED EMPIRE, SCI-FI/Fantasy
Crash, LAST DAYS OF FUSPMAR, Fantasy
aspirit, REFLECTIONS IN THE NIGHT, YA Romantic Sci-Fi

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LDWriter2
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How's 3,021 words?
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genevive42
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I don't see a problem with 3,021 words. Anyone else?
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genevive42
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I will ask, Meredith, do you think we really need almost a full month for crits and voting? I know it may depend on the size of the groups, but that seems like a long time when there's a 3k cap.
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MAP
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Wow, this thing is huge. Sorry guys, I think I'm going to add one more. [Smile]

Participants:
Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, STONE WITHIN, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy
Tiergan, KNIGHTS VALOR, Fantasy
MattLeo, THE KEYSTONE, Space Opera/Romantic Comedy
rcmann, THE PATTERNS OF CHAOS, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
RoxanneCrouse, NO TITLE GIVEN, YA Fantasy
Crank, ORACLE OF SENTRY RIDGE, YA
RobED, SHATTERED EMPIRE, SCI-FI/Fantasy
Crash, LAST DAYS OF FUSPMAR, Fantasy
aspirit, REFLECTIONS IN THE NIGHT, YA Romantic Sci-Fi
MAP, BONDED, Fantasy

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
How's 3,021 words?

I'm not going to fight over 21 words. Let's say it rounds to 3000. [Smile]

As for the entire month for critiques--did you see the top post about what else I'm critiquing in the next couple of months? I have an average of ten critiques every month for my other writing group. Another one or two from here. Plus an entire novel for next month and two for April. We might not all need that much time, but I'm betting I will.

Right now, it looks like probably 3 groups, depending on what happens in the next few days.

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LDWriter2
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Wow, a lot of novels here. Which is good.

But instead of asking how many of us are participating maybe ask how many aren't?

I could be off of course but it seems like this is most of those who visit the treehouse on a regular bases.

Neat.

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genevive42
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quote:
did you see the top post about what else I'm critiquing in the next couple of months?
Sorry, missed the finer details of that. My apologies. I completely see why you chose the schedule you did.
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TempestDash
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I would like to play, if I might. I've been sitting on my work, un-critiqued and unpublished for far too long. Though my first chapter is just over 4k words, I guess I'll have to trim a bit...


Participants:
Meredith, SEVEN STARS, YA Fantasy
wirelesslibrarian, EXPIRATION DATE, MG Fantasy
genevive42, FORGED WITH FIRE AND STEEL, Fantasy
LDWriter2, STONE WITHIN, Urban Fantasy
Owasm, The Reluctant Mage, YA Fantasy
MartinV, Clockworks Warrior, Steampunk Fantasy
Shimiqua, FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC, YA Urban Fantasy
RoxyL, MOTHER OF PEARL, YA Fantasy
Natej11, CORSAIRS, YA Fantasy
Tiergan, KNIGHTS VALOR, Fantasy
MattLeo, THE KEYSTONE, Space Opera/Romantic Comedy
rcmann, THE PATTERNS OF CHAOS, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
RoxanneCrouse, NO TITLE GIVEN, YA Fantasy
Crank, ORACLE OF SENTRY RIDGE, YA
RobED, SHATTERED EMPIRE, SCI-FI/Fantasy
Crash, LAST DAYS OF FUSPMAR, Fantasy
aspirit, REFLECTIONS IN THE NIGHT, YA Romantic Sci-Fi
MAP, BONDED, Fantasy
TempestDash, NEWTON'S CROSSING, Space Opera

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aspirit
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Future members of my group(s),

Will you please mention in your e-mail what kind of critique you'd prefer? I'd rather not go into a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis if you want only to know if the first chapter as a whole makes sense, or give a general two-line response if you're hoping for detailed feedback.

~aspirit

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aspirit
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Also, may we include a logline (or really brief summary) of our novel with our first chapter? Editors and agents generally receive a query letter and synopsis with a novel's opening, and the readers of a published book get a cover blurb. It seems like without any idea of the overall novel, we won't be able to judge the first chapter as well.
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by aspirit:
Also, may we include a logline (or really brief summary) of our novel with our first chapter? Editors and agents generally receive a query letter and synopsis with a novel's opening, and the readers of a published book get a cover blurb. It seems like without any idea of the overall novel, we won't be able to judge the first chapter as well.

That's a great idea! Go for it.
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LDWriter2
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I was wondering something along the same lines as aspirit.

My novel isn't finished but I thought of a very short synopses of the chapters I do have as well as an overall two to five sentence synopses of the basic story idea.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
I was wondering something along the same lines as aspirit.

My novel isn't finished but I thought of a very short synopses of the chapters I do have as well as an overall two to five sentence synopses of the basic story idea.

Unless there's a compelling reason, I'd stick with a log line or a couple of paragraphs, similar to a query.
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MartinV
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I'm putting mine up without a log line. I want to see if the first chapter gives enough information that the reader knows what is happening.
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