There is no part of a story that is as fascinating as the hook. At least for me it is.
The first piece I submitted to the Critique Circle (CC) was the attempt on a prologue. I was already reasonably sure that it would not make it in the final draft – it was however the most revised and self edited piece I had at the time. And the purpose of the first submission was to test the language skills.
So I decided yesterday evening to submit one (of the 2 possible) new beginnings for my WIP the the CC crowd. See, there is a special queue with CC called The Hook. The task for the reader (and critique at the same time) is to read along as far as it is interesting. You don’t have to write lengthy explanations or point out spelling errors – you simply give feedback for the hook. If my hook works, most will read to the end. If I screwed up and the writing is bad/boring/confusing/whatever for the reader I will know where they dropped out and stopped reading. And maybe why. Should be awesome feedback.
I will have to wait for some time for the results. This particularly queue comes up only once a month – next is up the first week of Feb.
This is a review for S. Evans book Novel Writing Mastery: Proven And Simple Techniques To Outline, Structure And Write A Successful Novel – I finished it 3 days ago and want to share what I learned. Honestly, there was not much new information, most of the ideas I had read somewhere else before. For me that’s a hint that I have done quite a lot of research on the topics of novel building, structure and such.
I like the first few pages where Evans busts some myths about the writing process. Most of it was not news but it is written entertainingly and – even more important – from an unemotionally point of view.
The next topic – on how to create realistic and compelling characters – held only few new ideas, but to recap the already known points is not a bad idea either. Useful for my WIP was the reminder, that each character has some dark side within her personality. I tend to forget that. Same goes for the behaviour within groups – there will always be a hierarchy.
I was a little disappointed about the third and fourth chapter. I was hoping to glimpse some new insights, some new approach to structure development but Evans (just) describes the already known snowflake method and some key components like forewarnings, consequences or goals that one needs to keep in mind when writing character arcs. But there is not much detail to these points and I miss a wider range of examples
Nicely done are the next parts that deal in detail with the beginning (Hook) and the ending (satisfaction). Can’t read enough about those – I think these are key.
What really helped and offered a lot of new information were the pats about publishing and the classification of a book. Especially the part about expected word counts for several different categories.
Best part was the bonus about poetry that comes as an add-on with the book. I enjoyed that very much. Especially since I was thinking about looking into that topic for a while. Evans describes the basics in an understandable manner – I might give it a try soon.
Few days ago I wrote about me picking and joining an online critique group – among the many available I chose Critique Circle.
Right after joining up and getting through the confirmation email process I started their “Welcome to CC” routine which left me with enough credits to submit my first piece of writing. It was up for its one week critique timeframe starting 6th of January. After submitting it all I had to do was wait and browse the forum. And of course – critique other writer’s work.
What can I say? This is fun and help at the same time. I like reading those bits and pieces of other writers. We are all just trying to hone our skills, advance our word-smithing and learn to put onto paper what we think someone else might enjoy reading. After a few days of critiquing several stories in different categories I have noticed that I do learn a lot – from the mistakes of others. Usually, when you buy a book there has been done some polishing going on with the original manuscript. Whatever writer, agent, editor, and publisher possible could do they did to make it as good as it gets. You don’t really get to see writings fresh from the author, let alone examples of the first rough draft.
So sometimes it is (at least for me) a little intimidating because as reader I don’t get to see all the work that went into the manuscript to make it smooth like it is when finally printed. But now I could (can!) see exactly that. And be part of it.
Whenever I notice something off in my fellow writer buddies texts, I learn. May it be a switch in POV, seemingly endless overuse of adverbs, weird dialogue tags, warped sentence structure … If I can spot it in their work, I might stand a chance to spot it in my own one day. I have since realised that spotting these things in the writings of others is a lot easier than spotting it in my own. But I figure writing is a craft like any other. The more you learn, the better you get.
During the week following Jan 6th I got seven critiques for my first submission. These helped me to come to a decision regarding my WIP. Apparently my English skills are good enough to justify me proceeding in English language. This was one of my major concerns.
With yesterdays achievement a rather easy task I figured I might as well tackle the next item on my list. This time it was 1) not so easy to solve and b) involved some internet (re)search. Latter quickly blew my mind and the number of open tabs in my browser as well. This is what happened:
I had been searching for a critique buddy in 2015 – without success. Turns out I just searched the wring thing. Originally I was hoping to find a native English speaker here in town who would sit and talk with me, drink coffee, point out critique worthy things in my WIP and I would return the favour. Like a real-life-writer-friend. BUT, living in Germany lowers the number of native English speakers. How to find someone among those few who lives near enough for personal meet-ups and who is interested in investing the amount of time necessary? Not an easy task, if not downright impossible.
Dismissing this plan of action I pondered the possibility of an online critique group (CG). Imagine my surprise … there are thousands! Good start.
Now, how to choose one? I found a blogpost, more like 10 blogs, dedicating a post to CGs. I clicked all the links. Open in new tab, open in new tab, open in new …… Browser got slowly lagging and I quickly lost overview of all the tabs. I scanned through the different websites, bookmarked a few and dismissed others.
In the end I signed up with Critique Circle. Their website looked friendly enough. The system of credits they use seems ok. So I just went ahead. It won’t cost me money but time to help others by critiquing their stories. In turn I will get feedback from different natives on my language skills. And on my writing as well.
This is a big step forward and makes me happy.
Second item on bucket list done. Yay!
It’s January the First and I tackled an item on my bucket list for 2016. Yay me! There is nothing as motivating as the start of the new year. Don’t you all agree?
In December I talked to Melinda Salisbury – you all should totally check out her blog (http://melindasalisbury.com/) and her first YA book The Sin Eater’s Daughter! She told me about the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and since my WIP is going to be YA, too I figured I join them.
And I did. Today. 🙂
I have already been through the website and blog. Hopefully there will be an event near me soon.
Anyways. One thing at a time. And the first “CHECK” on my bucket list.