My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Posts tagged ‘Critique Group’

Good Critiques

Yesterday was critique group and it was my turn. I submitted part of the first chapter of The Scarlet Daughter.Β  It was only 7 pages worth, since I had an unfortunate trip to the ER on Monday and didn’t have time to finish it like I wantedΒ (long story short: I had such severe stomach cramps I thought it might be something serious like appendicitis, but it wasn’t. Probably, um…female related 😦 ).

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised with the group’s reaction πŸ™‚ The really liked it. Much better than the original version. And no wonder–I looked back at the original and it took forever for the actual action of the story to start. This time I actually learned something and applied it to my writing (imagine that!) and started the beginning as close to the action as possible.

There were some issues with it, being a rough draft and all, but nothing huge. Mainly more description and setting things and making sure that I don’t make Naomi too childish, at least not without a good explanation. Also, I need to make it clear why she dislikes her father so much–which I plan to do later on in the chapter.

I’m so thankful for being a part of this group. My writing’s improved a great deal since I began though it still has room for improvement. And I’ll have my crit group right there, guiding me along πŸ™‚

Weekend Write-In

This weekend, my critique group is having a write-in at one of our member’s houses. It’s an all-day thing too; it goes from 10 a.m. (at least when the doors open; I don’t plan on arriving until just after lunch) until sometime in the evening.

You know what that means? I have no excuses πŸ˜› I have to complete the summary for Lady of the Snow.

I’m really looking forward to this write-in because I seem to do better actually accomplishing something when I’m around fellow writers. Not sure why–perhaps it’s the creativity in the air or just the bond of sharing something so similar, yet different, with everyone. It’s also a great way to bounce ideas off each other. We’re going to be “whiteboarding” (basically using a white board to develop ideas) and it should be a great experience. πŸ™‚

I think this is also why I’m able to write so much and keep myself motivated during NaNo. Something about all writing at the same time, aiming for a common goal–it’s easier to stay focused.

Β Have you been to write-ins? Do you find them helpful or hindering in completing your WiPs?

Novel Plotting & Lack of Focus

I am hoping to spend some time this weekend writing a loose chapter summary for Lady of the Snow.

I say “loose” because when I actually do start writing, I generally veer off from said guideline in some way. But it helps me organize my thoughts and see where I’m trying to go. I can see plot holes better this way too.

I wish I could be the “just jump in and write” type but I find that I encounter more walls that way and it becomes a rambling mess. Well, most of my first drafts are a rambling mess anyway, but it becomes less so if I attempt to draw up a story map of sorts.

On another note, I just realized that I’m supposed to submit something from my other novel for critique by Thursday. Actually it was supposed to be this past Thursday (ha!) πŸ˜› I’m wondering if I should tell the group that I need time to re-focus on other things (namely the new project) because my heart just isn’t in the other one at this point. I feel like I wouldn’t be gaining as much from the critique. I still want to be part of the sessions but we’re supposed to be actively posting to be part of the group. So…I don’t know, something I’m going to have to think about this weekend.

Maybe as I’m working on this new book I can submit chapters. I don’t know…I really don’t want to leave the group; our numbers are already dwindling as it is and I’ve gained friends there too.

Sigh. I wish I could just focus on something. I bet this is one reason why many writers never do get published–lack of focus!

Another Critique Day!

Another chapter of mine is up for critique tonight.

Even though I’ve gone through this at least a half a dozen times or more, I still get tense about it πŸ˜› I know it’s necessary but it’s hard to watch my “baby” be critiqued. At least it’s easier now than it was the first few times.

I always re-read my chapter before I submit it (it takes me a few days to make some rough edits to the chapter). Still, I always manage to miss something. I was going over it again today (I read it once more before my session) and there are so many things I caught this time around that I didn’t before.

Sigh. I suppose it’s always that way on the writer’s end. You never can catch everything, and if you do, something else is bound to turn up.

I’m wondering what comments I’ll get tonight? I can guess a few of them, probably the main one being why am I describing the family trade when it throws the reader out of the story (which I think may be a possibility) and why am I having yet another tense interaction between my MC and one of her guardians (future love interest of course). I guess time will tell! At least I’m not the only one in the “hot seat” tonight; I always feel better when another person has a chapter being critiqued the same day.

I also figure I must be doing something right, because they never spend more than fifteen minutes on mine, when on others, we end up spending 45 minutes to an hour going over it. Most things they find on mine are grammatical, and despite being an English major in college, grammar is still a stumbling block for me. That and not showing enough (but that mainly has to do with it being a rough draft and I’m rushing through just to get the story on paper, er…on the computer :P)

I also find it funny that no one is able to pronounce the names, even after I’ve told them how. True, they are Japanese names, and I’m probably even pronouncing them wrong or at least “Westernized” but they are a lot easier than some of the names that abound in the world of fantasy (every writer in my group is working on a fantasy book; I am the only one who isn’t). Oh well. I just hope the names don’t affect the ability for me to get this published.

Well that’s enough rambling for today!

Critique Group Today

Today’s the meeting for our critique group. Last week it was cancelled due to bad weather…and I’ve had to wait another agonizing week for my chapter critique πŸ˜›

Ok, agonizing is a bit of an overexaggeration. But I have been anxious about it; I always have when it’s my turn. I know it’s silly, but it’s difficult watching my story picked apart, even though I know it’s for the best and even though I know it’s not a personal critique of me.

I have been getting better about it over time. It was difficult for me to even have it read by people other than myself (I was one of those writers that hated having others read my work because I thought it wasn’t good enough), but I’ve since gotten better. I still lean towards keeping things to myself, but I remind myself that I won’t grow as a writer if I don’t let others read my work. I certainly don’t know everything about writing (honestly who does? Even the published writers don’t) and even if I go over something a million times, I inevitably miss something crucial. So it’s good to get other opinions and suggestions.

Of course I don’t always take everything my group gives me. Sometimes they make suggestions I ignore (especially if it alters the personality of a character), but it’s better that I have other opinions to at least balance everything out.

Anyway, how many of you are part of critique group, online or in person? What have you learned? Has it been a good experience for you?

Writing Goals for 2009

I realize the time for a New Year’s resolution is a few weeks away, but it’s on my mind now so I figured I’d write while it’s on the forefront.

My goal for this year is to get my first draft researched, edited and completed enough that I can start sending out queries by the end of the year.

I’m this close to typing “the end” with the book. I wrote about 700 more words today, bringing me closer to the goal. I’m not sure exactly how much is left–guessing between 7-10 chapters–but I’m not entirely sure on that so I’ll just say that I’ll finish when I finish. πŸ˜›

Yesterday at my critique group organizational meeting, we made goals and changes for the year to help things move along better.Β  We used to submit our chapters or sections a week ahead of time, but the majority of the group was having a hard time getting things read and critiqued well in that time span since two people per week were normally critiqued (there are only seven of us). We decided to make submissions due two weeks ahead of our critique date, giving everyone plenty more time to do a thorough reading.

My first session is January 22nd, meaning I need to have something up by the end of the first week in January. So I really need to get this book done, so I can go back and focus on editing the chapter that’s up next–it generally takes me a week to do that πŸ˜›

We also decided that we should post a running synopsis of our book up to that point so that if we have to skip a week here and there, we aren’t lost. I found this great idea because a good chunk of my book is changing (at least from what they’ve already read) so instead of submitting new or redone chapters that take place a good deal before where they left off, they won’t be confused and I won’t get comments about continuity πŸ˜› This should be fairly easy to do as I have a running chapter synopsis anyway.

That’s pretty much all we’ve changed for the year, but it should make things easier for all of us.

Anyway, I am wondering (and worrying slightly) about the monumental task of research waiting for me at the end of my first draft. It’s something I try not to dwell on too much now, but it’s hard not to, as it is a mountain I’m going to have to climb at some point. I am hoping that it won’t be as hard as I thought, but with a completely different culture, language and time period, I’ve got my work cut out for me. Not to mention the task of editing…cannot forget that important aspect.

Anyway, the contest I mentioned in the previous post has chosen finalists. The paragraphs were good–not my taste and most of them were too long in my opinion–but well written. I don’t think any of them are books I’d actually pick up and read by the paragraph alone, but it all comes down to a matter of taste.

Of course I hoped I’d be one of the finalists, but out of 1300+ entries, it was slim. Still, the hope was there as well as the slight disappointment that followed. I see it as practice for the mounds of rejection letters I will probably receive in the coming years for my book πŸ˜›

One good thing about it though is that if mine was chosen and a partial ms was requested, I’d be scrambling around, editing like mad. I may have over 3/4 of the book completed, but a very small portion of that (perhaps like two chapters) are good enough to even be looked at by an agent. So it was for a reason that I didn’t win at this time–but I will eventually succeed in landing an agent and a contract–I am determined to do such, even if the publishing industry becomes more and more selective and difficult to break through. I will not be deterred! πŸ™‚

And on that note, I’m off to bed. This post was becoming a bit on the long and rambling side anyway.

Overcoming the Fear of Critique

Tonight’s my turn to be critiqued in my writer’s group. As much as I know this is necessary, I still dread it everytime πŸ˜›

I always know it’s not a personal criticism of my ability to write…still, it’s always a bit painful to watch as your carefully planned and written chapter is dissected and analyzed to shreds. Of course, I know in the long run it will make it better, more marketable to an agent or publisher, but being the overly emotional person I am, it feels as if my very heart is ripped out each time…

BUT, on the positive side, I always know that each and every reader will see it differently, so what one critiquer might like, the other may hate (which has happened every time in the dozen or so times I’ve been critiqued). No matter how much I may perfect it, no reader will see it the same way and there’s no way that every person will like it.

At times, I think I’m also my own worst critic.

I’ve gotten better over time; once, not so long ago, I wouldn’t even let people read my stuff, so overly critical of it I was. But, I found a Christian writers’ website and started entering their mini writing challenges…and the first one I entered placed and was put in their quarterly anthology (hasn’t happened since then, but a few times have been close). So, I’m not as bad as I once thought.

So, though it’s sometimes painful, I’m very glad that I’ve been able to be a part of these critique sessions…even though that shadow of dread creeps upon me every time πŸ˜›

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