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Writing Tuesday - Improvements!

Brilliant critique group today! Everyone's submissions showed evidence of real story-structuring and genuine improvement.

The ladies all approved of my heavily revised Restraint Chapter 1, and while that was nice, what I really loved was that we all knew why it was better. Not just, Wow I like this, but Wow, this really moves, it has an arc, I can feel his conflict, I love the turning-point, I want to know what happens next.

Even the "I hate Jane Austen" contingent admitted that when the story is working, the language doesn't get in her way. I was so happy! I've been really tempted in the past to disregard her comments on the grounds that "she's just not my target audience," but I've learned that in an editing group, the "target audience" concept isn't valid. If a reader of normal intelligence looks at my chapter with open-minded intent to follow along, and then can't follow along, it's my fault, not theirs, even if they would never voluntarily read this kind of thing in their leisure time.

I've completed second-draft level restructuring on Chapters 1 through 5. Only...35 or so more to go, and then it'll be ready for a third draft.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 16th, 2015 01:54 pm (UTC)
Sounds like such an amazing group!
Sep. 16th, 2015 05:50 pm (UTC)
It's turning out to be. I'm glad I've stuck with it.
Sep. 16th, 2015 03:06 pm (UTC)
First, let me say I'm very happy for your progress! I also must confess I burst into tears for Tristan and John. Silly, I know, because they'll always be there, but I'm hiding behind the fabulous excuse of being old. That gives me permission to be overly-emotional! ;D
Sep. 16th, 2015 06:11 pm (UTC)
I burst into tears over John and Tristan too. Every damn time I review the ending of the story. Seriously, if it ever gets published and I have to talk about it in public, I'm in trouble.

John and Tristan will still be here. Different last names and slightly altered appearances, but still handsome, perfect John and tall, hot Tristan. I believe in the original story and have no intention of changing it fundamentally. The same plot arc, the same overarching conflicts, the same less-than-HEA ending--I'm keeping all that. I'll also fight for the stately pacing and the Austen-era diction, and will self-publish rather than let a "real" publisher change these things.

Really, this process is more liposuction and a chiropractic adjustment than big face-changing cosmetic surgery. Slim it down, line it up, get the story flowing faster. But it'll still be a big, juicy, terribly-romantic novel. Just, maybe 600 pages instead of 800.
Sep. 17th, 2015 05:11 am (UTC)
Woo hoo! I'm glad you are getting some value from your group. Mine is turning out to be pretty helpful, as well. Now if I can just ramp up the writing ...
Sep. 17th, 2015 05:53 am (UTC)
I know just what you mean. Having to submit something once a week has done two things for me: first, it prompted me to just get a scene written, any scene. Then, when I began to see the power of working structurally, the ONLY project I could legitimately bring to group was the finished novel, one rewritten chapter (or half-chapter) at a time. So I'm really not doing an "new" writing at the moment.

I'm starting my new, second group--the Super Hardcore Editing Group, SHEG (we're "sheggers")--on Friday morning. This one's by web conference, no printing or red pens, and with more experienced writers. I'm a little freaked out because I've got this sweeping historical social drama with gay characters, and the other two (so far) members are both editing Middle Grade contemporary kids' adventures. I feel a little sore-thumbish. Hopefully non-judgmental editing will win the day!
Sep. 17th, 2015 06:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's pretty time consuming because you also have to give feedback to others. I've found it difficult to write but I'm working on it. Sort of. :-)

Go you for doing the Super Hardcore Editing! I'm impressed! Let me know how it works for you. I need that for my historical, too. Well, actually, I need to just rewrite the dang thing but I keep putting it off. So much effort ...

Anyhow, stories are stories - the other members will likely see that, no matter the length or gayness. :-)
Sep. 17th, 2015 09:12 pm (UTC)
I expect I'll be writing up notes about Super Hardcore Editing Group (to be known henceforth as SHEG, its members "sheggers"), so maybe, if we find we're really onto something useful, other people can emulate it.

I hope that happens, anyway!
Sep. 19th, 2015 06:16 pm (UTC)
I also wanted to say (now that my first SHEG meeting is in the bag) that it seems to take considerably less time to review submissions for this group than for my little critique group.

My critique group has the time-consuming peculiarities of meeting in person and working from printed docs, while SHEG is all-digital, but even discounting those differences, SHEG is more efficient.

That's because reading a scene for conflict, turning point and value shift is way faster than copy-editing. Instead of ten SPAG notes per page (which is how critique group was operating), I have maybe three notes overall: here's the conflict, here's the turning point, I feel the value-shift (or, alternatively, where's the conflict? where's the turning point? did the value shift?).

What's more, I have the other Sheggers' outlines, so I can gauge very quickly how any scene is performing in the overall story.

The majority of the mental and creative effort, then, is expended during the session itself. Each person's work gets half an hour, and we agreed right up front that the Clarion "no talking while you're being critiqued" rule is bullshit for what we're trying to do. It's a discussion.

It helps that we're starting fresh, together, with an enthusiasm for mastering story structure--and that we have the same aims based on the same texts, terms, and definitions.

But since that's the case, we get a great deal of lift from our two-hour meeting. Yesterday (our first meeting), I came away with big, challenging corrections for my novel's superstructure; a clearer understanding of Story in general, and powerful feeling of support and help running in both directions.

All that for considerably less overhead time than I've been putting into the local critique group.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )



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