The Golden HeartThe Golden Heart
It’s that time of year again—Golden Heart Contest deadline time. A time for wishing and hoping, a time to make your list and check it twice—re-vision list, that is. You know, that opening scene that drags with backstory and clever lines that take the reader nowhere? Break out the hatchet and kill your darlings. I had a killer line about Perry Mason, but it had to go. Bummer. But in reality, how many of my readers would have even known who Perry was, anyway? Sorry, Mr. Mason, you’re history.
It never ceases to amaze me how we grow as writers. Six months have passed since I revised my current entries, one of them quite thoroughly, or so I thought. I’m still finding places to cut, adjectives, adverbs, and redundant qualifying clauses. Will it ever end? Who knows? One thing I’m sure of, in six months I’ll have increased my knowledge of writing and will revise again.
. . . And then there’s the synopsis, the cross of the unpublished writer, which I fondly call the suckopsis, Currently, it’s sucking up my writing time from my work-in-progress. Writing a synopsis is sort of like trying to squeeze a size 10 foot into size 8 stilettos. (If you wear size 6, go to the back of the bus and sit with Barbie.) Five hundred pages of story crammed into five. Why not give it a try? The men in the white coats get paid time and a half to haul away crazy writers. Besides you needed a vacation. Why not Bellevue?
The word synopsis brings to mind the children’s story, THE MITTEN. Remember the story where a little mouse found the nice warm mitten in the snow then all the other animals came along and wanted to get out of the cold. One-by-one, they squeezed in. Then along came a tiny cricket, and that did it. The nice warm mitten exploded. My old synopsis was getting like the mitten, a cast of a thousand all wanting their share in the story until it exploded in a tangled mess.
After two days in my grandmother’s rocking chair with only my laptop for company, I finally had a coherent rough draft and could open the door of my office again. It wasn’t five pages, it was a little over six, but it was half the size of the old mitten-like one, and it had FOCUS. Yes! It followed the heroine’s character arc without any side trips to Oz.
Whether the GH judges will like it, who knows? But they will understand the story line, provided they keep their own creative story-bending minds out of my story. Which brings me to the nitty-gritty of the GH--the judges. It’s a crapshoot, as is anything dealing with creativity. It’s subjective. Stephen King talks about your ideal reader, the one person for whom who you write. Well, guess what? Out of the five judges you are going to get, chances are they not all are going to be your ideal readers. The best we can hope for is readers that share some of our values and a few of our life experiences in the hopes that they will have the necessary empathy to connect with our characters. Sounds like a shot in the dark, I know. It is. Embrace the reality.
What’s really important is the writing and whether or not you have been honest in your story. Do you laugh and cry when you read it? I ask because when the spotlights come down and the conference goers shuffle off to the airport, that’s what you’ve got to be proud of—your amazing story.