Now that we are three weeks into September I have noticed how I have not been posting as much as of late. I have decided to try and actively change this. And, thanks to Kait and her ROW80 Challenge, I believe I’m ready to get my butt into gear and stick with her posting schedule. My focus this year will be on writing discipline.
So, now that I have you all here I have to tell you about a newbie writer who recently attended their first critique session. I heard how she was not fully prepared for what she was about to walk into. Supposedly this session turned out to be a horrific experience for her. What a shame, critique sessions are meant to be a writer’s tool. The feedback one gets from such a group is priceless.
Maybe some people think that just because they are college graduates the first book they write will be perfect.
I don’t know about that unless you are some kind of genius who has the imagination of a schizophrenic. The writing process just does not happen that way.
We all think our stories are great when they are coming straight out of the box. Pride can get in our way in the beginning. The best writers have replaced their pride with a deeper understanding as to how great stories are created.
You may call it collaboration when a critique group is used, but when you bounce a story idea off someone else’s mind and they tell you what they understand your story to say is two different things.
I saw this with Along Came Neil. This book took part in my first critique session. One chapter, mind you, can change the whole course of your story. Just one chapter is all it takes to rid yourself of anything that comes across as back story, or that unnecessary prologue. – who reads prologues anymore anyway?
So to that newbie writer – my heart plays that sad, sad song for you 😦 , but what are you going to do about your manuscript? Do you give up that easily? Why did what they say hurt so much? Could they possibly be onto something?
If I were you, I wouldn’t give up. Listen to what they said. Critique groups are there to try and give you a view of your story from a reader’s angle. Use it as for what it is, your very first review. If you reacted to the critique group that way, how will you take your first one star rating? Believe me, we all get them at one time or another.
Which leads us to another topic for a future date: Revisions and editing…
Revisions – for the past two months I have been working on Revisions of all my previously published works. I’m kind of on a roll with only one book left to go.
Since Along Came Neil came out during the beginning of July I decided to revise the whole series, which does have its benefits, like fixing proofing errors, and story gaps. This is a good thing. By starting at the beginning of the series, this helped me make sure that the story remained on track, right to the end. Along Came Neil brought a lot of closure to the story. I can either continue the series or let it end. I feel confident that I did achieve a decent ending. Now all I can do is wait for my readers to tell me what they think about the story.
In the meantime, I moved on to my fantasy series. I actually had no choice but to go over the story once again if I’m to start working on the next book in this series. I don’t keep a time line. (I should – shouldn’t I?)
So by doing a revision of the fantasy series I am not only raising the quality of the story but I am regaining where I was at with the story.
I have about thirteen chapters left to go. Maybe I will be done by this weekend so I can start coming up with my next plot.
So while I regroup my fantasy series I hope, even if you have had a terrible critique group experience you will keep your Manuscript Marching Onward. The parade only stops if you stop marching.
Stop by and cheer on the progress of other ROW 80 writers by following the Linky Link, or better yet, come join us!
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- Beta Relationships (wordencounters.wordpress.com)
- Critiques: How to survive them and how to give them (kalirogers.com)
3 thoughts on “Marching your Manuscript Onward”
I had a friend critique a novel I’d written, and she was a little nervous to give it to me straight. But happily, I got into this writing gig around 40 years old–at an age when my spine had gotten a bit tougher. If something sucks, at this point I just want to know it so that I can fix it. Of course, one would hope that others would constructively criticize your writing, rather than you. Comments like, “you can’t write” are personal attacks, whereas “this section didn’t make sense” can enlighten the author on what to do in revisions.
Great job with your ROW80 round. Enjoy the fantasy novel writing!
I have to agree with you Julie. My experience with my critique group was all about telling you that the section did not work. From what I heard the same was for this newbie writer. She was told how her chapter jumped around too much and such and she unfortunately took their criticism non-constructively. Which is such a shame. I do not personally know this newbie writer. I heard all about it from a friend who is a relative of the friend of the newbie writer. (Did I lose anyone yet?)
I’m certainly looking forward to the next round. Hopefully I will have discovered my main plot point between now and then.
I used to be very sensitive to criticism of any kind. It sprang from a childhood where ridicule was a much-practiced art form.
I can still hear my father’s voice, stridently informing me that, unless I wanted to be a journalist (I didn’t), that writing was a pipe dream, and that I was “just existing.:”
The first few times someone actually criticized my writing left me trembling and angry…as though that person was responsible for my father’s pronouncement, and as though him saying it made it true.
Like Julie, I discovered new self-confidence after 40. While it can still sting a bit to have my darlings scrutinized and found lacking, I have accepted that my childhood was non-supportive in some rather large ways, and that that does have an impact on how I see the world. I’m no longer chained to my father’s opinion of me or what I do. I am a wife, a mother, a homeschool administrator and hometender, and, even if writing were a pipe dream, which it is not, for me….well, I’m entitled to have a pipe dream, and a passion beyond assigned and expected roles. I claim that right….and I want critiques that “catch me out” on things I could improve, because I only have one set of eyes and one mind to bring to the table, and so other opinions, eyes, and minds are essential to clarity.
I hope that young writer survives the session, and, in time, can look a bit more objectively at her chapter, and see that she maybe got some good advice.
Oh, and as for prologues – I love them! I read them, and write them, too. I may not, always, but for now, I would rather have one than not.