I have a few author friends who like to attend weekly critique groups, they claim the system works. They bring a page or two of their current work-in-progress (before the story is finished) to read to the group. Sometimes changes are made based on the helpful comments made. That system doesn’t work for me. I’m called a pantser, I like to write my story from beginning to end before I begin any revisions, editing or re-writes. There is, though, a lot to be said for having another pair of eyes review your work before the finished manuscript is sent to submissions.
We all know that it is easier for someone else to pick out typos, grammatical errors and inconsistencies in the story, after all we KNOW what we MEANT to say and sometimes our own eyes play tricks on us and make us THINK we see what we know should be there. Sometimes it isn’t the typo we need to have pointed out to us.
In our writer’s mind we know where we want our characters to be going and we understand why they have personality quirks that would drive most people away. Our readers don’t necessarily understand this until that big reveal somewhere in the story which means they may become annoyed with the character flaws and simply stop reading. NOOOOOO!!!! I recently had my eyes opened about one of my beloved heroes, Adam in Courage of the Heart. Adam has a past that he is ashamed of and keeps secret because he just doesn’t feel very good about himself. Along comes Davie, a young innocent girl/woman – he’s attracted, she is too, but he manages to anger, insult and hurt her all at once (unintentionally of course) and now he fights to win her back.
I’ve been participating in the Weekend Writing Warriors weekly blog hop since last September (9/15/2013 to be exact). We share 8-sentence snippets from our works (published or unpublished) every week and then visit other participants, read and comment on their snippets. While several of the warriors use snippets from works in progress, some of us use pieces from already published works, like me. What benefit is there to using work that is already out there in printed form, either e-book or print, and can no longer be changed? I use the comments to see how well I have been able to communicate. The use of such small segments of each story can be challenging because it doesn’t allow for much room to make our point clear. It’s a lesson in making every word count.
Last week my fellow warriors noted that Adam seemed too persistent to the point of “creepiness”; now I am egotistical enough to console myself with some wonderful reviews I got for the book so obviously his actions are acceptable… to a reader who reads more than just the snippets. But this also means that I didn’t do my job as a writer. Writers need to keep a reader involved with the characters giving sympathy when appropriate or annoyance when it’s called for. When we fail to keep our characters real to our readers, we risk losing their interest in the story.
By seeing and understanding the story I wrote through other eyes, and not just for proofreading purposes, I have a clearer understanding that my intended thoughts are communicated. Even though my book was already published, I am able to use the insight from last week in my current work-in-progress to make sure that the inevitable genre formula where the boy loses the girl and works to win her back is not mired with “creepiness”. For those that are interested, I’m writing a sequel to Karma Visited and continuing the paranormal romantic suspense storyline between Annie and Dave.
In the meanwhile, this is an invitation to all writers to join this weekly blog hop we call Weekend Writing Warriors / #8sunday; post 8 sentences from a current writing project, published or unpublished, and then visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support. It’s a fun time as we hang out with other writers all striving to be better at what we do.
Please come visit me at my blog Chelle Cordero, Author
at my web-site Welcome to Chelle's World