Wednesday Writer’s Update 1/25

Greetings and Salutations. I am back at write in tonight at the cafe. Of course the first question I get asked is what are you writing. Sigh. I am again slogging through beta feedback from round 2. And again people don’t agree.

“I love character A, his story is so well developed.”

“I wish you had developed character A’s story more.”

“I really liked the romance between B and C.”

“The Romance between B and C needs more sex.”

“I completely felt and understood D’s journey.”

“You need more scenes to really explain D’s journey.”

“Dump the first chapter.”

“No don’t dump the first chapter, I love the way it ties in to the last chapter.”

Just shoot me now. Or don’t. Why should you agree on anything having to do with me? LOL

We’ve all been talking about classes we took in junior high and high school and whether it was coed forced or not. I took wood shop which wasn’t forced coed and I was the only girl.

Did you have wood shop? Did you take it?

 

G is for Good Feedback

G.jpg

“Writers will give you writer feedback. How they would have written it. Readers give you reader feedback, how they experienced reading your book.”

“Try to get better writers than you to beta your novel.”

“Careful with how much redrafting you do, you could be washing out the good stuff.”

How much editing to do? One author says “The story stays but the words change as I pump things up.” Another says “90% of my words stay but I am a slow perfectionist writer.”

-The Art of Writing it Again Panel

Weekend Workshop: Critique

I touched briefly on this last weekend but critiquing someone else’s work is such a huge part of the self publishing milieu these days. If you aren’t willing to critique someone else, chances are they aren’t going to help you. And we all need the help when we’re wearing 47 different hats in the pursuit of independent publishing.

When S and I were kicking around ideas for Nano to Publish we had a lot of thoughts on critique and in our infinite wisdom we decided to go to write in and ask other writers what they thought. The resulting list was born.

What is good, useful critique?

The primary goal of your editing critique should be to help the writer create the best version of their novel. By keeping this in mind, you can avoid many of the negatives that are sometimes associated with feedback, critique, dare we say criticism.

DO:

Ask if your partner has any specific concerns in mind that you could be looking for.
Be specific.
Talk about the work not the author.
Talk about things that will help them improve their work.
Note what works as well as what doesn’t.
Point out the repeated grammar or punctuation mistakes (once or twice) so the writer can learn not to do them.
Always explain why.

DO NOT:

Critique their voice until they change their voice to be your voice.
Rewrite things in exact words.
Line edit for them, unless asked to do so.

Questions to think about as you read for critique:

Are the characters relatable? Are they as likeable/detestable as they should be?
Are there any characters that don’t serve a purpose or are one dimensional?
Too much back story or not enough back story?
Are you confused at any point?
How is the pacing?
Where does the story really start?
At what point are you completely sucked in?
Are there any scenes that don’t make sense, that are out of place? Do they all drive the story forward?
Did you like the ending?
Did you feel the ending was appropriate to the story?
Would you have abandoned this book? Where and why?

When I went through this at the January Nano to Publish workshop a lot of groans happened at that last line. “That’s so harsh.” It could be. But think about this. If everyone who reads your novel prior to publication tells you only how wonderful it is, you won’t know until you publish if it’s actually any good. Imagine getting your first honest critique on Amazon in a review. That scares me more than zombies.

So tell me, did we forget anything on our list? What would you add? What do you like to see from your first pass, beta, and ARC readers?