May 18, 2010

Critiques

I didn't have critique partners for my first book (which might explain why it's on the back burner awaiting serious revisions) and wondered if I'd find one for my current WIP. Happily, I've connected with a fellow writer who gets my story and can point out its flaws in a truly helpful manner. Huzzah!

I especially like working with her because she’s read Browne & King (see 4/10 post) and can bring up issues they address in their book on self-editing. So when she says to pay attention to narrative distance, I know just what she means.

One of her comments made me laugh out loud. My protagonist has a powerful voice, and the use and abuse of that power is central to the story. But in a scene that should ripple with tension, where any sane girl would be scared speechless, she calls out a warning. Oh dear, the enemy approaches. Whatever shall I do? I know. I’ll burst into song!

I still want to have this character sound the alarm, but I’ll need to rework the scene so it doesn’t come off like a bad Monty Python skit. Meanwhile, I'm grateful for the feedback only another writer can provide. Funny, isn't it, how you can see the gaps in someone else's story and breeze right over them in your own?

12 comments:

  1. It is very difficult to see the flaws in our own writing. Wish I knew why. What's really embarrassing is when you exchange with a cp and you're both making the same exact comments about one another's work - and you're both right.

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  2. VR: I think we're just too close to the story to see the flaws. That's why it's so important to get another writer's perspective.
    I'm actually relieved when I read drafts with issues similar to mine, such as pacing and POV. It's rather comforting to know we're not alone in our struggles, don't you think?
    ;-)

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  3. I see things so clearly in my head - and I know my characters so well - I write like my readers know that too. I forget that I have to fill in the blanks for them, and explain things. And sometimes toss things because, while I know my character might actually break out in song, the reader might just think that's too weird because they don't know her as well. :)

    I love crit groups. Good ones, anyway.

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  4. Heidi: Yes, it's that gap between what we know as creators and what the reader needs to know to fully grasp the story.
    Since my MC called out the enemy with her voice, I thought it might be interesting to have her sound a warning as well, but it may be more effective to make her mute with fear. ;-)

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  5. Yes. We are so involved in our own stories (and we know them so detailed in our minds) that it's nearly impossible to see the flaws until an outsider points them out to us.

    I love my CPs ore than chocolate. (That's saying a lot.)
    My stories are so much stronger because of them.

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  6. Karen Amanda: More than chocolate? That's high praise indeed! ;-)

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  7. It's so true...I will read someone else's script and go ta-ta, and then think, um, I did that. Better go hurry and fix it. :)

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  8. Elle: Exactly! It's a humbling experience. ;-)

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  9. I'm glad you found another set of eyes. There is nothing as valuable as that (for your MS).

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  10. Elana: Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I'm glad, too. It makes a world of difference. ;-)

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  11. It's strange how you just know you found the right crit partner, right? I happened to get in touch with one thru Nathan Bransford's forums, and we weren't even really asking each other to be long-term crit partners. But then, it just sort of happened. She gets my story, and I feel like I really get hers.

    Great site! I found you thru Casey McCormick. I just posted an interview with her on my blog. Thanks for checking it out, saw your comment on her blog.

    Kay
    www.kayemevans.com/blog

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  12. Kay: Sorry to be responding so late. For some reason, your comment had to be moderated. Glad you stopped by and hooray for finding a crit partner! ;-)

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