Yes! I may have cut in line somehow by posting my opening on a comment thread (because I didn’t think my e-mail had gotten through), but anyhow I got the opening to my Pundit novel looked at by the editors on Edittorrent. Or at least by one of them, Alicia Rasley. I’ve taken a couple of online courses from her (some time ago), and she has published a bunch of romance novels. I like her style.
Now, I don’t know whether she’s right about my “flip-flopping tenses” in that sentence. I don’t think the tense is muddled at all:
A few are sure they’ve barely missed out–having heard a rustled drapery or caught a flash of light just as the save took place, but being otherwise too occupied with the crisis as it happened to watch closely until it was too late and the angel had flown.
I think that’s a perfectly normal sentence (although I think “but *having been* otherwise too occupied” would be technically correct, but I knew that would REALLY freak people out and make them say it was confusing, so I fudged that.) I don’t want to get into a bunch of controversy about whether it’s grammatically correct and so forth. I think she’s focused on worrying about the way readers may or may not understand what I’m saying, which is good. I like to give readers a little more credit, though. I think they can comprehend what I am saying. (Though I might change it to “a rustle OF drapery,” which sounds better.) We’re talking about how someone might miss something that is happening while something more riveting is going on, and that’s all I wanted to convey. Will muse on tweaking it further.
It’s kind of cool to get some actual feedback from a pro so I can better understand what people are thinking when they read my work. I never have thoughts like this (thoughts like the type of stuff pros come up with when they analyze text on this blog or on other blogs, I mean); this highlights for me again how different my thought processes are from editors’ and agents’ thought processes. Unless I actually cannot understand a sentence, I never get upset when there’s a lot going on. Maybe it’s the difference between having a modernist mind and a post-modernist mind. Perhaps I actually have more of a 17th century mind . . . or even worse, a sixties-consciousness mind. It’s *something* like that, no doubt. I would never think twice about reading a focus-down opening, myself. But anyhow, maybe those don’t fly today.