Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Feedback: Ending it All (or at least a Chapter or three. . . )



Happy Friday, campers!!!!

Do the extra !!!s help?

If I'm having a hard time sounding authentic and enthusiastic, well, the truth is, I'm a bit melancholy that our penultimate Friday Feedback is already here.

WTF?!

Teachers Write goes too fast!

Summer goes too fast!

Don't let me get started on all the rest of things that are blurring on by in a heartbeat. . .

Alas. Here we are, the 8th of August with one week to go, so it seems fitting to talk about endings. So, I've asked guest author, Will Ritter, to chat with you all about just that. Or his take on that, which is how to write a good Chapter ending.

This is Will, making copy edits to a mss.

Will is the fun and quirky author of the forthcoming debut novel, Jackaby, (from MY esteemed editor, Elise Howard at the amazing Algonquin YR).

Jackaby is described as: "Doctor Who meets Sherlock" and features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

CHEEKY HUMOR and MACABRE? I'm in! You?

Anyway,

That is one awesome cover...
Jackaby has been getting rave advance reviews, and, as always, Will will be spending a good deal of time here today, so please check it out when it releases NEXT MONTH!

So, without further ado, here's Will (and me chiming in once in red) with Friday Feedback:


As the school year approaches and Teachers Write draws toward an end, I’m thrilled to be here to talk about endings. I’m not going to devote much time to THE end. THE end is important, but in a way it’s also easier to write. Chapter endings, I’ve found, are much trickier.
Building up to THE end takes a lot of work, but as I approach, I generally find my direction is pretty clear. After all, I’ve been planning it and pushing toward it for the entire book. It’s a lot like wrapping up the end of the school year—finish everything and then leave them with something to think about. Chapter endings are more like wrapping up a unit or a single lesson. They need to make the preceding work feel productive, and set the stage for what’s to come. They need closure and continuity.
A successful chapter ending occurs at a natural threshold. Shifts in location, time, or emotion are all common places to draw that line—but my favorite ones also set one foot over the threshold, enticing readers to step through and see what lies beyond. 
Sorry to butt in, but I love this: "... my favorite ones also set one foot over the threshold..." I mean, I love that. Because it gives you a perfect image in your brain. So, yes, do that! Do that when you end your chapters!
I don’t worry too much about chapter size, although I tend toward shorter chapters as a preference (a pacing choice common in YA). I just try to end each chapter on a strong emotional beat, in a way that will pull readers forward. I want each ending to feel solid, but I don’t want everything to be resolved too neatly. Readers shouldn’t be fully satisfied until the final page.
There are three ways chapter endings go for me. (1) The nature of the chapter pushes things forward on its own, and all I need to do is tack on a nice clincher that reminds readers of what made the chapter exciting. (2) Other times, I’m in an emotional lull, waiting for the fun stuff in the next chapter. In those instances, I often tuck in something portentous like “I told myself not to worry—everything would be okay. I would not discover how wrong I was until morning.” (3) On rare occasions, however, I find I’m in a lull before a lull. When that happens, there’s no manner of clever wording that can make a chapter ending work. I need to edit out the fluff or just rewrite to keep up the pace.
In the following scene from my current WIP, my characters receive some disquieting news from a policeman, and then go to investigate it (a very archetypical detective-fiction plot point). I had originally taken time for the characters to put on their coats, and written some nice period imagery about a carriage ride to the scene. Blegh. Dreadful. I can work in those details in ways that don’t kill the timing. Instead, I hacked away the florid crap and ended on the stronger beat. I want my reader to feel the bubbling urge to follow me into the next chapter, just as my leads want to follow their liaison to the crime scene. What do you think? Does it draw you along, or does it still fall flat?

* * *
“I’m not here to arrest you this time. I’m here to…” Marlowe took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “I’m here to enlist your services.”
Jackaby raised an eyebrow. “What did you say was the manner of Mrs. Cambridge’s death?”
“Call it unnatural causes,” said Marlowe. The corners of my employer’s mouth twitched upwards. Marlowe rolled his eyes and nodded obliquely toward the street. “Just hurry up. I’ve got a driver waiting.” He stamped off down the front step, not bothering to ask if we would be right behind.

* * *

So here's your chance. Share an excerpt in the comments that's a chapter ending (or a section ending...) and see if it leaves us wanting more.

And please be respectful and remember the RULES:

  • what works, first. 
  • If something doesn't, why not? 
  • And no more than 3 - 5 paragraphs, the latter if short! 


Thanks for being here, Will! Congrats on Jackaby's imminent arrival!!!

Will & gae

47 comments:

  1. Hi Will and Gae! Will, I love your chapter ending! It definitely makes me want to read on. I love how Marlowe stamps off. It shows so much about his feelings.

    Here's the ending of my first chapter. My story is a middle grade about a girl who gets panic attacks:


    “It’s only for the summer,” Mom says. “You’ll be like a dog foster parent. This dog really needs your help.”

    “Let’s make a list.” Dad moves closer to the whiteboard where he used to write down all our “To Dos” before it started stressing everyone out. “Positives first.”

    I sit on the floor, twisting my legs up in a slightly painful yoga way, and try to focus on my breathing.

    I don’t think I’m a dog person. This is definitely NOT going to work.

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  2. How did this time move so fast? Thank you again for doing this!

    Penelope shifted uncomfortably in her stool. Standing up a menu, the Shadie family was completely hidden from her view. Penelope stuffed a huge piece of waffle and strawberry in her mouth. “Hungry,” she said, spewing a bit of whipped cream as she spoke.

    “Really?” Her father looked carefully at her and reached over and took down the menu. “You know I don’t believe you.” But he didn’t say anything more, and Penelope was thankful.

    It was a pleasant meal after that, sharing dishes and her father gave her all the strawberries as they were Penelope’s favorite. Just as they were getting ready to pay, the Shadies were at the door, leaving. Leena stopped and stared at Penelope, and watched Mr. Glass take out his wallet to pay the bill. Smirking at Penelope, Leena sauntered out of the diner.

    “Ok, all set?” her father asked.

    “Can we wait just a minute?”

    Her father sighed. “I missed something, didn’t I?”

    “Nothing I swear, I just want to hang out here a sec.” Penelope looked out the window and saw that the Shadies were nowhere in sight. “Coast is clear.”

    “What?”

    “Nothing.”

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  3. Hi Rebecca. Such a relatable scene! I don't know why I hate Leena Shadie, but I totally hate her, just from the gut-twisting familiarity of the moment you caught.

    I tend to teach constructive criticism as the "LAW" (LIKE, ALTER, WONDER), so I'll offer it in the same format. What readers "WONDER" while they're reading is usually my favorite, and especially important in a chapter ending.

    I LIKE your minimalism in the final dialogue. Any time it's possible to eliminate the *he said*s and *she replied*s without losing clarity, it just makes the conversation feel cleaner and more authentic—especially strong for a final beat.

    I'd ALTER your phrasing in the 3rd paragraph ("It was a pleasant..."). That sentence needs some punctuation adjustments, and it falls at the worst time for a reading speed-bump. The subtlety of Leena's aggression means you need your readers to be 100% in the moment in order to experience the emotional rhythm, or else your Penelope will seem like she's just being oversensitive.

    I WONDER if you're going to return at the start of the next chapter with a related concept. I love the heavy significance of the final "Nothing." So I WANT the following chapters to address her inability to
    articulate her problems and ask for help, and the writing here makes me wonder if you're going to do that. I also wonder what Leena has done already to merit such dread from Penelope.

    Great excerpt!

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  4. Thanks, Will and Gae. I am definitely looking forward to reading Jackaby when it comes out. I like the excerpt very much--it sets up a lot of tension that makes me want to keep reading.

    This is a section from the middle of my work in progress, where my MC overhears someone making a racist suggestion about why someone was cast in the lead role in the school musical and decides to intervene.

    I hear a murmur of agreement, and I whip around, leaving the last jaggedy pushpins on the bulletin board to their own chaos.

    “Yes,” I say, too loudly. “Everyone knows why Danielle got
    the lead. Because she has the best voice in school and is a great actor. If you’re not satisfied with the part you got, maybe try to do better next time instead of trying to tear someone else down.”

    “Oh, really?” Jessica’s face is burning, but she recovers
    quickly. “Says Miss Vegetable Stand, talent scout.”

    No one laughs.

    “Yup. Says me. And anyone with half a brain.”

    Her eyes narrow. “Maybe you should go find your freak boyfriend.”

    This does get a giggle, and I shove my hands in my pockets.
    I've never wanted to hit anyone before, not even my brother, but there’s a first time for everything. She is not going to make me disown Dale Evans, no matter what she says.

    I laugh instead, and that makes her turn an even brighter
    red. “Keep trying, Jessica,” I say, and push past her. But I know we’re not done. Not even close.

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  5. I love how much you manage to reveal about three characters in this short excerpt--Dad with his lists, Mom with her optimism, and your main character and her anxiety.

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  6. Hi Andrea! Thanks for the excerpt! Such a ripe concept to tackle. I've
    had a couple of students who suffered from crippling panic attacks.
    Anxiety is already so familiar to all kids, so for a narrator who feels
    it so strongly, it'll be all the more heavy.


    I LIKE how your little details help outline the narrator's emotional zone. It's not JUST a white board, it's a white board with a history of stressing everyone out. She's not just sitting, she's sitting in a way that is supposed to help her focus, yet is slightly painful. Great!

    I'd ALTER the last paragraph. You've got so much great work on the page already, but I really want it to spike as we hit that final "This is NOT going to work." I want your readers to be hyperventilating right along with her, and that is likely to be your hurdle on each chapter—because your subject matter has more peaks than valleys, you really have to put the bug summits even higher. Consider adding details to amp it up in the final seconds. Something like "Deep breath. I don't like this. Mom is hovering so close her pant leg brushes my elbow. Deep breath. I am not a dog person. Dad is saying something. The dry erase pen screeches. Deep breath. This is definitely not going to work." Make it true to your characters, of course, but it calls for that sort of pulse-getting-faster moment to really sell the scene.

    I WONDER if the dog will wind up being therapeutic for her, and in what ways that journey will be rocky. I expect this is probably a key component of the narrative, and well set. I definitely want to see how it turns out for her, so nicely done.

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  7. Will, I like the detail of Marlowe turning away without bothering to be sure they would follow. (Aside: That's actually my fav bit of dog/child training- ask them to do something then turn your back, assuming they'll do it.) That detail has the effect of doing the same to your reader -- so I'm compelled to follow along just like your MC will, into the next ch. I like it!
    That said, I'm going to think over your advice, go find a ch ending to review and will come back to share later today.

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  8. Okay, so first of all, Will, WELCOME! Second of all, as a lawyer, I am loving your LAW! :) Thirdly, I have nothing to add to your brilliant commentary on this, except to say, Andrea, I love where you're headed, so keep on keeping going there! :D

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  9. I'm going to follow Will's LAW today, since it's his post and I am a lawyer, after all. :) I like what he likes, Rebecca, and I also really like some of the small little technical things that you do to really bring us into this scene. To that end, I would ALTER: this sentence too, but it may be a pet peeve of mine (not a fan of dangling participles): Standing up a menu, the Shadie family was completely hidden from her view. I'd love you to make it simpler and clearer from the outset: Penelope stood the menu up so that the Shadie family was completely hidden from view.

    As for WONDERING,might your ending make us even wonder more if you dangle that threshold Will speaks about in his main post, by leaving us the second BEFORE the dreaded hateful gross and horrible Leena Shadie actually goes? Something like: Leena smirked at Penelope, hands on hips, as Mr. Glass took out his wallet as if in slow motion to pay the bill. Penelope held her breath praying he would just be done fast, and Leena would be gone from the diner.

    I dunno. Food for thought because then the chapter ends without the reader knowing what might happen next?



    Anyway, great stuff! Already interested in these characters! keep going!

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  10. Jane, I'll let Will weigh in, but I think you do a great job of creating this scene and that ugly-petty teen behavior that is so heinous...I feel your MC struggling to do what's right even tho her heart is pounding and she's fighting not to cry, probably... and that chap ending is that nice little "tuck" Will talks about. Keep going!

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  11. see you later, Elissa!

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  12. Hi Jane! Student readers need lots of role models like this. It's so hard to have the confidence at that age to say something instead of just being part of the crowd (or getting violent, as she also resists).

    I LIKE the realism of the build. The crowd is willing to ridicule someone behind their back (Danielle, Dale), but no one laughs when the target is standing right there. The last line is also a perfect closer to draw the reader forward. This biz is goin' DOWN later!

    I's ALTER your narrator's wording just a little. "If you're not satisfied with the part you got..." sounds a little mature. While you want her to sound intelligent, and you don't want to "write down" to your audience, you also don't want her to sound superior and pretentious. She's BEING mature, but that will come across just as well in more common teen language. Consider toning it down to "If you don't like your part..."

    I WONDER if the crowd has any depth later on. This is such a small excerpt, so it's hard to tell—and this might not be the place to add it—but I want to believe that the members of the mob have feelings, and struggle with their own choices. I keep thinking about the scene in To Kill A Mockingbird when Scout manages to dispel a lynch mob just by being a sweet little kid and treating them all like people. It's such a powerful literary moment, and I think you've got potential for that sort of nuance here. I'd love to see a scene in where someone who was laughing looks pained or sympathetic. Sometimes the most heroic thing your hero can do is inspire members of the crowd to come forward to her defense, too. Just food for thought.

    Sounds like a great story—such teen tension already.

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  13. Hi Valerie!

    I LIKE the tension of the two-word ending. I don't know about you, but my kids always vote for "speaking in public" as their #1 fear in English class. Can't think of a better butterflies-in-the-stomach moment for a kid than being on stage in front of a crowd, including an antagonistic peer... so this dangling chapter ending really leaves the strings humming. You set that up perfectly. I am TOTALLY turning to the next page.



    I'd ALTER a few dialogue choices. Both of your characters sound a little like they've fallen into dramatic monologues from Gone With the Wind, which detracts from the tender realism. "I don't know why I let her rile me so...I feel as if I'm less than nothing," might feel more real as "I don't know why I let her get to me... I just feel like nothing." I don't know what period you're writing in, so that might be TOO modern, but even in period writing, it's easier to believe a character if they sound as natural as possible. Less is generally more, to that end.



    Also—I want the teacher to give the student more choice in that moment. She's supporting her, which is wonderful, but it is really harsh to tell a student who is actively crying about being bullied that she NEEDS to just go out on stage and perform, and then give her a shove. Telling her she CAN, and that she has to MAKE HER OWN WAY and TAKE A STAND are great, maybe even tuck in an I'M HERE FOR YOU sort of line... but I think the student really needs to decide to go on for herself to make this to feel right. Very subtle changes can make this—not a big shift, because it's already so strong.


    I WONDER who the central character is. In MG or YA, I would assume Gert is the most important character, and I would expect the book to follow her, but you've called the teacher 'Kate' in the narration. Gert refers to her as "Miss Stinson" in dialogue, so that would be an odd choice if Gert were the main character. If this IS more about the teacher—focusing, perhaps, on a few key students she helps—then I wonder what emotional arcs her own life takes (in addition to helping resolve her students' conflicts).


    Sounds like a tender, compelling story! Solid excerpt!

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  14. I always smile when I get to read about Kate's world. You have created such a real, breathing character, I feel like I know her. I want to know more about Gert and Flora and see what happens next. I wonder if there is something in Kate's life that connects to this moment, where she was in Gert's shoes. The only stumble I had was "looking up at the woman," which I think is Kate. I love seeing Kate being a mentor.

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  15. Tammy Petty ConradAugust 8, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    Can't believe this is the last week of camp! I've enjoyed it and have participated much more than last summer. I'm pledging to myself that I will continue working on my WIP during the school year!

    “Good morning, please rise for the Pledge.”


    The commotion of chairs and shoes covered up the first two words, but the rest were strong and in unison. The substitute teacher was leading the class; she didn’t know that the last child in was supposed to. It would have been that girl. The one Susan saw walking on the opposite side of the street. By herself. Instead, she
    was shown to the empty seat in the back.

    “…with liberty and justice for all.”

    “Very nice children, please have a seat.”

    Susan didn’t hear the rest of the teacher’s words. She couldn’t help but wonder who the girl was. She noticed most of the other kids were glancing back at her and then to each other. The class wasn’t stone silent as usual. It wasn’t just the rowdy kids who were making
    noise today.

    “I’d like to introduce our new student. Come up here young lady.”

    The girl made her way up front while examining her shoes.

    “This is,” the teacher looked at the card the girl gave her, “Shandra.”

    “Shawndra.”

    “Excuse me?”

    My name is pronounced Shawndra, like Sean – Dra.”

    Her voice was stronger than Susan expected it to be and she noticed the girl was now staring back at the class. The snickering stopped.

    “Well thank you Shawn-dra. I will make a note of that. Now take your seat please.”

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  16. Hello Tammy!
    I LIKE the familiarity of the scene. The sound of motion drowning out the first few words of the pledge, the details of kids knowing the routine better than their substitute... it's all very real for anyone who has ever been through public school.

    I also like that you didn't add any unnecessary language to explain that Sha(w)ndra has an indomitable presence. 3 words: "The snickering stopped," did that for you better than any adjective could have. Nice.

    I'd ALTER the very end. It doesn't quite step over that threshold for me. I don't know where the story will go from here, but if she's going to have a conflict with Susan, maybe give her a moment of intimidating eye contact as she moves back toward her desk or something. Alternately, pull out of the chapter a hair sooner. The sub clearly has less authority than she does (we've already seen that she can silence the chatter more effectively than he can), so maybe consider highlighting his inability to quiet the class down earlier on, and then just end on "The snickering stopped." She's new, she's got moxie, and who knows what she's going to do with it? BAM. Next chapter. "Take your seat please," just eases us back into the minutia of the class, which vents the pressure you want to be building.

    Also, minor quibble, but unless they're long-term, subs wouldn't usually know that there was a new student to introduce right away. Maybe have him read a slip of paper FIRST and then say something like: "Apparently we have a new student to introduce..." instead of "I'd like to introduce a new student."


    I WONDER what this new girl is going to be like! This is obviously the point here, and well done. Is she going to be cool and kick butt? Is she going to be a jerk and a bully? Is she going to get bullied and become hard (or crack?)...? I am right there with Susan wanting to know. Kudos on the intriguing introduction.

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  17. Ah, Will -- the one time Valerie tries to save herself from too much backstory... this is historical (we have all been with Kate for summers) and Kate is a young woman, not a YA (or not in those days anyway...) we should have given you a heads up!

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  18. As for my feedback, adept as always, Valerie! Always such a fresh breath of air to have Kate sweep in here. Like an old friend we remember from photographs! And like Will I love your hooky two word finish!

    One revision I'd give is to watch over tagging (and adverbing!) where your very adept dialogue and business does the trick just fine! So maybe from this:

    “I know,” Gert hiccuped, looking up at the woman, “I don’t know why I let her rile me so,” she replied, “I just can’t seem to help myself. I see her grinning at me like that and I - I just,” her voice trailed off, “I just start to quiver all over and feel as if I’m less than nothing. I know it’s not true but I can’t seem to help myself,” she said sadly.

    to this?:

    “I know,” Gert hiccuped, looking up at the woman, “I don’t know why I let her rile me so. I just can’t seem to help myself. I see her grinning at me like that and I - I just,” Her voice trailed off. “I just start to quiver all over and feel as if I’m less than nothing. I know it’s not true but I can’t seem to help myself.”

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  19. Thanks for the encouragement, Gae! I've gotten so much out of your posts and feedback on Teachers Write!

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  20. Thank you so much for your suggestions and feedback! One of my challenges as I go along will be how much "panic" to include from my main character because I don't want it to get repetitive.

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  21. Hi Jane! I really felt some tension in this excerpt. I love how your narrator stubbornly stands up for her friend. And I'm wondering about what's going to happen between these two!

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  22. Of course. In that case, ignore my suggested changes! Terrible advice!

    I do like Gae's tips on trimming the unnecessary "tags" and descriptors. Streamlining is of my own biggest editorial issues, so totally pot and kettle here, but it's good advice. Writers from yesteryear often used far more complex sentences, so it lends an element of voice, which I enjoy, but I'm constantly reminding myself that readers aren't looking for an old book. If they wanted an old book, they'd be reading an old book. Readers want a book that FEELS authentically old but has modern pacing and sensibilities. It's a tough balance, but it sounds like you're already walking it.

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  23. I've got nothing to add to Will's awesome feedback except, Keep going! And yay for participating more this summer, and boo to only one more week of teachers write! But don't get me started on that. <3

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  24. Hi Rebecca! I really liked the way Penelope is hiding from Leena. I think you've captured that so realistically. I wonder if the line where Leena stares at Penelope might be strengthened a bit to give the reader an indication of the kind of stare - it could be curious or hostile or surprised. So cute how the dad is aware he is kind of clueless about what's really going on.

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  25. LOL, and yes to all you say about a book that feels old but is modern in terms of pacing ,etc. :) A hard balance.

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  26. I don't want to miss out on a Friday Feedback but I'm prepping for kid havoc, so I'll need to come back later to read the critiques.

    Will - your character sounds like he'll hit my sweet spot. I'm very psyched to read your book. Thank you for sharing your expertise!

    (And Gae, I think you know I adore you now, but perhaps I should say thank you a dozen roses more.)

    For background: my mc is Owen, Christopher is a friend, the dog (Pogo) only has one leg in front, and this is an agility demonstration.
    _________

    Last obstacle: the jump.

    Afraid that Pogo would be unable to actually jump over the pole, they had placed it on a rung two less than the certified height for his size. Christopher jogged to the cones marking the finish to wait.

    Owen swallowed. “Jump, Pogo.” He directed Pogo to the agility jump.

    Pogo charged, galloping toward it with a speed that surprised Owen. Leaping over the pole easily, he tripped on the landing. His lone front leg slid under him and his jaw hit the ground. Momentum carried him and his back legs flipped him over in a somersault, sailing forward to thud heavily between the cones.

    The crowd gasped.

    “Pogo!” Owen ran towards him.

    Pogo flipped himself upright, and seeing Owen behind him, charged the jump again, this time knocking the pole off.

    A relieved chuckle trickled among the adults as they began to applaud. The children cheered.

    Owen wrapped his arms around Pogo. “Good dog,” he whispered.

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  27. That's fair—and not an easy challenge. You're already thinking about precisely the right hurdles to jump in order to achieve a strong and steady build to a climax, though. Write that book! It's going to be heart-racing and awesome, and I know a few teens who might have really appreciated seeing kids like them in print.

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  28. Hi Terry!
    I LIKE this classic underdog scene. Pogo is easy to like (I may also be biased as a big fan of the old Walt Kelly comics), but Owen's concern for him is very sweet, as well. Makes me wish I had more than this one clip to see their interactions!

    I'd ALTER the gravity of the scene. It's difficult to tell if we're meant to be more concerned about Pogo's ability to make the jump and prove something (to Owen, to the judges, to himself?), or if we're meant to be more worried for his safety after he trips and tumbles. IF we're focusing on him defying the odds and making the jump, then I'd do two things.
    1) I'd build up the pre-jump with a more time spent with Owen getting nervous before the little pup starts to run, and
    2) I'd make the judges less sympathetic. Don't lower the bar. Underdog stories are all about proving the naysayers wrong, and if everybody is unanimously supportive, everyone rooting for Pogo, everyone making it happen, then his success is a little less dramatic. They don't have to be huge jerks, but they might simply be realists, assuming the dog can't do it and not wanting him to injure himself trying.

    If you want to focus less on making the jump and more on the danger of injury, then give that beat more time. There needs to be a tense silence as everyone holds their breath, or everything moving in slow motion as Pogo lies in a sickeningly unnatural position... if only for just a second. I need to be worried about him the way Owen is worried about him.

    Either way, when He IS okay and plows back through the bar to cuddle Owen, that moment will have the tender weight it deserves.

    I WONDER if Owen and Pogo have a shared underdog identity. Does Owen relate to Pogo because he's handicapped in some way? Are they like family to each other because no one else understands them? Is the dog's success symbolically significant as well as just sweet? I want to know how they connect with each other, which I imagine is a big part of the surrounding story. I snuck a peek at a couple of your earlier excerpts without Pogo to get a better taste of Owen, and it seems like the two could form a really interesting dynamic.

    Great share!

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  29. Hi, Terry! You have been a huge champion of TW and me since you joined! Your affection and admiration comes across loud and clear, and makes me feel very appreciated every Friday!

    As for me, you know how I feel already about Owen, and the addition of Pogo just makes me love this story even more (there's a three legged dog in this neighborhood, and I always think I must write about him or her when I see him running along as if he is perfect and whole... so thank you for doing that for me!)

    I think WIll raises some good points! This scene can be even more! And since we're talking about endings that make you turn the page, how about pushing that ending a bit more? Maybe ending it when he's down on the ground, and the next chapter starts when he bounds back up again, so we're needing to know if he's okay?! Food for thought. Keep going. Your heart shows everywhere in this story. :)

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  30. Thanks, Jane!

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  31. Oh, my goodness. I hadn't consciously thought of them both as underdogs. Of course. Now I feel like an idiot. This is nearly the finale of the story - Owen is supposed to be proving himself, but it's not quite enough, and I think your feedback is going to point me in the right direction. Thank you so much. (And sometimes when you're too close to the writing, you desperately need someone to point out the obvious!)

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  32. Also, now I need to research Walt Kelly comics... Good to have an assignment.

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  33. WOW. This is awesome. Walt Kelly's Pogo Possum describes my Pogo the dog pretty well, at least according to Wikipedia: "the reasonable, patient, softhearted, naive, friendly person we all think we are" What great luck!

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  34. Glad it was helpful! Hope it opens a few doors for the next round. (And I know the feeling!)

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  35. He's pretty sweet. I love Pogo. I grew up reading old Pogo collections from the cold war era that my parents kept around. They were oddballs with a ton of heart. As newspaper comics go, I think they might be second only to Calvin & Hobbes.

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  36. Now *that* is a serious recommendation.

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  37. Calling it a night, campers. Loved these excerpts—thanks so much for sharing with me! I'll touch back in tomorrow morning.

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  38. Thanks, Jane! It's so fun to know that you "know" Kate. You have a better oerspective on some of the scenes I post than others, and I always appreciate your input.

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  39. Will, thanks so very much. This is great advice, very helpful! The modern pacing and old feel - that helps so much. And I totally saw whwat you meant about GONE WITH THE WIND, though Gae did a good job of giving some backstory for me (which is usually way too long). Thanks so much for taking the time with us here. You've shared so generously with us today.

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  40. Excellent, yes, Gae, I get it! I am a bit peeved with myself that this scene of all of them I might have posted still has the extra tagging - I've removed some 1200 extra wordsin revisions this week (so many advrbs!!). But I know it's a multi-phase process, and maybe it is good that you could call those to my attention in this scene, too. Thank you, thank you both. You are always so helpful and you make us all feel like going on and finishing!

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  41. Jane, Bully for you! This is the kind of scene that could get preachy but you keep it like teens would play it, and real. I feel the anger from your MC and the derision in return. I would try a LAW on this but it is past my bedtime. I want to find out what appens next.

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  42. Will-
    You're a gem. Thank you.

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  43. My pleasure—there are some really wonderful stories growing in here!

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  44. You're more than welcome. Tremendously talented group to be a part of. Thank you for having me!

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  45. Thanks for being here, Will! Excited for Jackaby NEXT MONTH!

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  46. Meh, don't be peeved, Val. It's easy to nitpick but you'll find my own mss's peppered with all the things I point out.... your story is terrific. Keep going!

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