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

Posts tagged ‘Critique’

Critiques and Other Things

The first chapter of Lady of the Snow was reviewed last night by my local critique group.

And….they LOVED it. I mean, they hardly had any comments on it. That’s seriously a first for me. Even though there were only four of us last night, the opinion was pretty unanimous–that my first chapter achieved exactly what a first chapter should: it made them want to read more.

There were some issues with it, mainly grammatical (what a suprise ๐Ÿ˜› Grammar is the bane of my existence) and a few places where I could make things a little clearer. But nothing major. (BTW, I changed my chapter a little from the excerpts I posted–mainly, I switched it over to third person, which I think flows better and is more natural for me).

However, from their comments, I have a little changing I’m going to need to do for the book. I’m realizing that the current plan I had probably won’t work so well. I initially planned on going back in time after my first chapter to show how she developed into the Yuki-onna. But I realized that may be a little too much of an abrupt shift–from going to her being this mythical monster to being a normal human 300 years prior.

So, that first part will mainly be backstory fodder; much of it may come out in flashbacks. And I’m going to have to learn how to do a good flashback. Not sure it will work making it go back and forth between two distinct time periods; you really have to master the craft so as not to confuse the reader (or irritate them!).ย Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweetย is a great example of switching between two time periods without that confusion.ย He was able to switch back seamlessly–something I don’t think I’m quite comfortable doing just yet–at least at the level I’m at in my writing.

So it’s back to the drawing board for the book summaries, as well as some of the character bios. It’s nothing too major–in fact I may try writing it the way I originally thought and then use some of that in flashback sequences.

For now, I’m just happy that I actually wrote a compelling first chapter–something that I always struggle to do ๐Ÿ™‚

Quick Edit? Not So Much

Ok, so that “quick edit” that I mentioned in the last entry took longer than I thought ๐Ÿ˜›

I should’ve finished it shortly after that entry and then I realized I had another obligation that was on a deadline. So that took precedence until yesterday afternoon and then family came over in the evening, so I really didn’t get to “edit” it until about 11 p.m. last night.

And then I re-read it over and felt uneasy about a huge section of it. It didn’t seem to fit the culture; it actually seemed a little exaggerated. I brought it up to my hubby and he agreed with me. So then I was up until nearly 1 in the morning trying to fix it. I didn’t get it fixed well enough until this morning (while I had slow time). Even now, it could stand to use more editing but I think that will have to wait until I’m going through the novel.

It’s funny how easily I can get sidetracked. Such is the story of my life ๐Ÿ˜›

So Far, So Good

I’ve got close to 700 words written for today, so I definitely hit my daily goal of 500 words (hoping to up that to 1000 at some point, but baby steps are needed in the beginning :P). Even though this part technically isn’t continuing on, it is a new chapter that comes earlier in the book (and the one that’s next for critique). I may end up writing a little more today. I’m hoping to get some done before I have to take my dog to his training class tonight ๐Ÿ˜›

I think I would’ve had well over 1K today if it was a chapter that wasn’t up for critique yet. I’ve been overanalyzing the scene too much. ย Oh well; it’s going to need a lot of work (like every chapter of mine does) but at least it’ll be done and posted. And, since this is looking like it will be a relatively short chapter (probably only around 1500-2000 words), I won’t have to agonize during the session since it will be critiqued rather quickly.

That’s all for today; just wanted to update on the progression like I promised I would.

Anyone else do so much needed writing today?

Critique Results and Other Randomness

Critique went well last night. It didn’t take them long to critique my chapter; it only took from the time of ordering food and receiving it. So, I’m guessing that was maybe 10-15 minutes ๐Ÿ™‚

They picked up on what I had thought; grammatical issues and even issues with too much description (which is odd because normally I’m critiqued for not enough :P) To be fair though, only one person said that, the other two said the description was fine because it was still her first day there (in her new home) and it helped to set the scene. One even said I needed just a bit more on describing the kabazaiku trade (art of fashioning things like tea cannisters and other small woodworks out of cherry bark).

Only one member said that it seemed we were seeing too much of Kaiyo and her guardian, Ryuji, verbally sparring. That may be true, though this was pretty much the last chapter of that as in the next three she avoids him (as a result of this recent argument) and attempts to leave. After that, she begins to change as she realizes the danger that she’s in. From this point she and Ryuji (also the love interest, as if one couldn’t tell :P) begin to see different aspects of one another’s personality. The love story is only a small part of this; I’m still not sure how it’s going to end with them, whether the story has them together or left open ended.

I now need to work on the next chapter, which is one with the antagonist. I’ve been told I need to make him more evil, which I’m trying to do, but it’s hard to show that as he’s in the process of searching for her and needs to put on his “best face” in order to gain the information needed. However, he is going to become quite cruel as he gets closer to the people who know Kaiyo.

Anyway, the ending I was planning is changing slightly again, this time because I’m deciding to cut out one POV. I initially had three: my MC Kaiyo, her father and the antagonist, Kaemon. However, Kaiyo’s father’s identity remains a mystery to her through much of the book (at least until part II) and I thought that by introducing him to the reader would negate the mysterious aspect and take away some of the suspense of who he actually is. It could change, but I’m thinking I will only have Kaiyo’s POV and Kaemon’s, the latter increasing as he gets closer to finding her and closer to Part II.

Gotta love how this novel is ALWAYS changing, from day to day, sometimes even hour to hour. ๐Ÿ˜›

It’s too bad I probably won’t have any time to work on it this weekend; friends from West Virginia are coming up for the weekend. I’m happy though because it’s been since Christmas since we’ve seen them and I’m looking forward to having a girls’ weekend while hubby has his “guy time” with my friend’s husband as they go up to our college alma mater in Mount Vernon.ย  I think I’m going to see Slumdog Millionaire this weekend; I’ve heard good things about it and I love cultural movies.

Ok that’s it. Have a great weekend everyone!

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 ๐Ÿ˜› 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!


I still haven’t finished editing my chapter for critique. I’m up again a week from this coming Thursday and we’re supposed to have our stuff posted two weeks ahead of time. I’d completely forgotten that I was up in two weeks, mainly because we’ve had to cancel a few of our sessions due to winter weather and I got thrown off track. I fully planned on finishing this weekend (I completely re-wrote the first half of the chapter on Friday) but it was so busy…Saturday was the Cornhole Tournament at church and I had to make the hot dogs for lunch, then my parents and aunt came to visit (along with their massive 74 pound black lab, Jack), so Saturday was pretty much out.

Sunday morning was church, then in the afternoon, Phil’s cousins came over (they generally come over every Sunday afternoon), one to go and play WoW with Phil, the other to play Animal Crossing on the Wii (she’s only ten).ย  I tried to do a bit of writing then, but maybe got a paragraph done.

I was going to do the rest of it today during some of the slow times at work, BUT I realized I left my jump drive in my other purse (because you know, I’m always switching purses…and sometimes I forget to transfer everything over).

Who knows if I’ll get to it today; there’s laundry waiting to be put away at home and tonight is another dog training session.

I’ll have to try, though I’m thinking it’ll probably be tomorrow when it’s finished.

Oops. ๐Ÿ˜›

JanWriMo and Critiques

Yes, that is an obvious play on the famous NaNoWriMo. But I’m participating in a mini-novel writing challenge amongst a few of my writing buds over at FaithWriters. There’s no specific goal per se–we each have our own. Mine is to get this first draft of mine finally completed. So hopefully this will help me ๐Ÿ˜›

I also have to get back into my critique group. Our group has been on a sort of hiatus since late October, mainly because of NaNo and then the holidays. We’re doing things differently this year. We have to submit our chapters two weeks ahead of time instead of one and write a synopsis up to that current point in our novel. The latter of the two won’t be too difficult–I already have a pretty extensive chapter outline and it’s easy to modify to fit the constant changes I keep making. The first part won’t be too bad–except I’m already up two weeks from this coming Thursday so I need to work on fixing my chapter for this time. I get to be a bit of a perfectionist, so it tends to take me a few days…and even then, it’s not “perfect.” But what is really? No matter how many modifications I may make, I can’t please everyone–I can only get as close as I can to tightening my writing. S

My last critique I had went very well–probably the best I’ve had. I only had a few minor comments and most were on grammatical things (grammar is NOT my friend, even though I was an English major). But it also took me a good week to edit it ๐Ÿ˜› So I know I have it in me, I just have to devote the time to it. That’s normally what it comes down to–breaking that procrastinator within me and ignoring the excuses that pop up in my brain.

So today, I have to at least start editing the chapter for Thursday’s submission deadline. Iย  remember the last chapter that was critiqued but I can’t seem to remember what happens in the next chapter…guess I’ll find out soon!

Critiques, Changes and Confidence

Well, needless worrying from me yesterday, as only one other member showed up to my critique session ๐Ÿ˜› We went over my chapter for a little while and then over my story as a whole. I received a great deal of insight and how to progress further. For one, I know for certain that I’m sticking with third person POV.ย I was toldย that I convey it very well. So no sense in messing that up by changing to first person.

I also figured that I am going to cut back a bit on the other viewpoints.ย ย It seems like the other characters’ stories are taking over (but it is the rough NaNo draft I’m reading…). There will still be four different viewpoints (My MC Kaiyo, her father, Iesada, the love interest, Ryuji and the villain, Kaemon). The other three will be shown only occassionally as it pertains to the story. It’ll probably take a great deal of adding/removing/changing as the book progresses, but at least I don’t have to worry about too much sidestory.

I’m still going to have to research the yakuza of the time…even though I don’t think they were called that just yet in 1890…and even though I’ve looked all over for books detailing this period, I only ever get a paragraph or a page at best. So that’s still a bit of an issue. BUT I managed to find this really nifty book about traditional Japanese furniture, so now I’m not completely in the dark about that.

So overall, my critique went well–I was told it was the best chapter written so far. So I KNOW I have it in me to write a compelling novel. Sometimes I struggle with the whole confidence thing–always have–but last night’s critique built it up considerably ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t gotten any of the other critiques back, as they were all absent last night, so I have another week to wait before I see the varying opinions (as some are a lot harsher than others). Still, I know that at least one person likes it (and he tends to be one of the harder reviewers), so there’s something there…:P

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 ๐Ÿ˜›

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 ๐Ÿ˜›

Tag Cloud