I've been writing for years. Years and years and years. Until September 2006 I never submitted my work. I'm not just talking about publication--I'm talking about anything. No one other than the odd friend or relative ever read anything that I wrote. And then the house hunk challenged me to, uh, pee or get off the pot. So, mostly on a dare, I flamboyantly e-mailed off my submission, knowing deep down in my most secret heat that it would never see the light of day.
Well, somebody read it. For all I know, maybe even several somebodies. And they offered me a contract. Since then, I've almost adjusted to the process of editing. Almost. I don't grind my teeth anymore when my patient editor points out that things do NOT happen "all of a sudden"--they happen suddenly. Fifty years of countryisms is hard to shake off. But I try.
One of the things that I started doing after that was to take part in critique groups. I love to participate in critique groups. Currently, I belong to two "formal" groups and then I have a couple of friends that give an on-the-spot assessment when I hit a rough spot.
The secret to a critique is the commitment of the individuals. You might think that I would not want to hear that my work sucks hairy eyeballs. Not true. If it does, then I really want to know about it. That's the only way I can fix it. Thanks to my critique groups I've avoided some terrible clumps of writing.
My favorite critique of all time was one about a love scene. The critiquer said, "You want me to believe they love each other? I don't believe you. There is nothing to show me that they love each other and telling me is just paying lip service to romance." I went back and took a hard look at that scene and tore it apart. Rewrote. Rewrote.
And then when I was satisfied with that one, I went back and looked at all the other "love" scenes in that book. That particular scene is one that's received several very positive comments. Readers talk about how romantic and loving it was.
But that wasn't the only benefit of that critique. I took her words to heart and look at every love scene with new eyes. I ask myself if I've sufficiently demonstrated that the participants are not only having sex, but that they are "making love". There is a difference.
One of my current works in progress is titled Bishop Restart. Yep, that's exactly what I did. I set aside the first attempt and restarted it after all three of my critique partners admitted they had NO idea what the story was about, who the main characters were, or even where the story was taking place. Oops.
I started over, paying attention to all the pointers they listed. Something still didn't quite jell so I asked my friend, a professional proofreader to have a look. She read through the three chapters I had and then pointed out my fatal error. Other writers may have trouble with long-windedness. I have the opposite problem. I've spent so many years trying to say the most with the least amount of words, that I sometimes cut more corners than necessary or desirable. My friend said that I wasn't giving enough information. I was skipping part of the "who, what, where, when, why". Oops.
My English classes were so long ago that I no longer remember what I learned about the formal art of writing. POV--point of view is a huge mystery to me. Thank goodness most of my writing is instinctive because for the life of me, I can't see the "head-hopping" that I occasionally break into. My critique partners take me by the hand and point out the error of my ways. Sigh. I like to know what everybody is thinking! Oops.
I read a blog where a bunch of different people critiqued a blurb. One critiquer mentioned that there were too many gerunds. Picture me mystified. I had to find a book that explained all about gerunds. Then I went back to look at my work and found it positively peppered with gerunds. Oh no! I was appalled that I was breaking the gerund rule! Oops.
Don't you just love the way some people use a word over and over. Just as you think it might be a little quirk, they just toss it in the next sentence. In fact, they use it so much that you could just scream. Well, don't just stand there. Speak up or they might just keep doing it! Oops!
I want to thank every single one of the brave men and women who willingly critique my work and tell me the low-down, nitty-gritty truth about my writing. You're the best.
I believe in promoting humor, education, and thought-provoking commentary. So check out Kelly's blog at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ and Amarinda's Place at http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ ! Blessings on your day!