Taking criticism is still tough…

May 24, 2013

The revised version of “Won’t somebody think of the Children”, the one that I spent nearly sixteen months slaving over, (with a few breaks to work on other projects,) is still working its way through the critters.org critique queue. Chapter 4 got sent out for critiques on Wednesday, and I’ve gotten one full critique back of the entire novel by a dedicated reader and I’m waiting on a few others.

The results certainly haven’t been universally encouraging. I really think that the story is much stronger than it was in the first draft, and I’ve gotten some encouraging validation from some readers, but there have also been a few responses that took some wind from my sails. One of the critiques I got from chapter four said that there was no conflict, nothing at stake; and offered three different rewriting techniques for improving a scene. I was disheartened when I first received that, and then twelve hours later, I got a short commenting on my colon use, with four paragraphs of praise and apologizing for not having more negative feedback. 😉

I guess I’m going to have to organize all my critiques, including the feedback from the dedicated readers who haven’t gotten back to me yet, and evaluate it all like a big pot of soup without paying too much attention to any one piece. And always bear in mind that the first revision I did was based off my own impressions of the book, and there are dozens of tools from the Holly Lisle revision course that I can still turn to and use to fix the problems that I never saw, once a critter has pointed out that they’re there.

It may be a tough job, but a writer’s gotta do it at some point!

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IWSG Follow-up: Why my First-person Narrative has to be deleted.

January 5, 2012

Okay, well, since so many people asked about it, I’m going to do as Elizabeth suggested and devote a short blog post to talking about first-person narrative in “Won’t somebody think of the Children” and why I’m leaning towards rewriting the entire book in third person point of view.

I’m a big fan of first person point of view. On the other hand, I’m starting to realize that at times my reliance on that writing style doesn’t really serve the story that I’m telling, and that’s the basic decision that I’ve come to with Tom Sandinez serving as narrator of his book. It’s a call that’s more intuitive than deductive at this point, but the most obvious reasons have to do with the next point I made last post, that I need to do more showing as opposed to telling.

If I let Tom tell the story in first person, that’s exactly what he does a lot of the time. He tells the reader what happened yesterday or last week, and he skips over some of the best parts. Now, if I really wanted to, I could probably show a lot of what I need to show and still stick with Tom as the first-person narrator. But I’m still not convinced that that would be the best way to write this story, and I’d be fighting Tom’s inclination to gossip and summarize the whole time. So, I want to try switching things up – telling most of the story from close to his head, (and maybe jumping away to some of the other major characters for a scene when I need to,) but not letting his voice take over.

So, that seems to cover it. I hope that what I typed makes sense, and feel free to post more questions in the comments if you’re so inclined.

And Alex – killing off a favorite character with no warning because you’re not sure how else to end a book is indeed cruel. It also fits in with a great and glorious Nanowrimo tradition. 😉


August to-do list results

August 31, 2011

Well, August is really almost up now, so I guess it’s time to see how I did on some of the goals that I set myself 31 days ago:

  • Revising “The Way Back Home” – partially complete. This was one of those projects that turned out to be completely different than I thought. That’s mostly because of Lani and the Storywonk class – I had an epiphany or two and made some progress in figuring out what the book is supposed to be, maybe, but didn’t make as much tangible and measurable progress as I’d hoped.
  • Cleaning the apartment – partially complete. Tidying up the kitchen went well, but the living room table just sneered at my efforts. I’ll have to prepare much more carefully to tackle it again, hopefully before it actually begins to lurk in the middle of the room. (Yes, that’s a “Long dark tea-time of the soul” reference.)
  • Rewriting “How to talk to Earthlings” – DONE!
  • Submitting a story for publication – failed.
  • Writing a list-based smartphone app – DONE!
  • Continuing fanfic works in progress – Exceeded expectations, with 2 and a half chapters complete!
  • Posting old fanfic to fanfiction.net – met quota!
  • Blogosphere participation stuff – exceeded quota!
  • Fan expo stuff – Done!

So – not too bad, all things considered. Didn’t achieve everything I wanted to, but I certainly kept busy.

Did you have a goals list for August? How did it work out?


Rewriting a story in four days.

September 10, 2010

I’ve been wanting to get back to talking about writing here on the blog, so here’s a good bit to blather on about, I think. Rewriting an incomplete story idea from scratch.

I’ve had the idea for this ‘alien landing’ story for going on a year now, I think – I did a starting paragraph for it based on a challenge at Stringing Words in October of 2009, (wow, didn’t realize it was that long until I looked it up,) and I started my first draft in May of this year. It was going pretty well – four scenes, 3200 words, and then it just kind of ran into the ground at the point that the alien attacked the human soldiers.

The basic premise, by the way, is that an alien ship lands on Earth, damaged from a battle with other aliens – they need help to fix the ship, but they’ve still got powerful weapons that can hold their own against anything the Army throws against them, so both sides are forced to bargain in the end.

I asked other writers for feedback on what I had so far – I read it for the Hamilton Writers’ group on June 1st, I think, and got some interesting perspectives, including how soldiers should talk in a much grittier and fouler fashion, and some encouragement, but I still wasn’t sure how to continue, and put it aside to focus on other things, like the CreateSpace draft of ‘The Long Way Home’, JulNoWrimo… and starting my blog.

In August, I submitted the two longer scenes in CritMo, and the crits that I got managed to perfectly clarify what I needed to go. Over and over again, they kept repeating, ‘I like Doctor Juddman, I like the alien, I like the language stuff, I don’t care about the two army commanders butting heads.’

So I did a page one rewrite, telling the entire story in Doctor Juddman’s point of view, how he was whisked out of his office at UBC to go talk to an alien, and what happened after the alien attacked him and held him captive for nearly 24 hours in his spaceship.

It’s still a rough draft at this point, 5400 words, but it’s a complete first draft, and I’m happy about it. Thinking about taking this one to Hamilton Writers this week, to see what they think of the difference.

Do any of you readers have a story to share about rewriting stories quickly?

And thank you very much for the awards, Brittany. I’ll talk more about those soon – hopefully Saturday.


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