My Cup (of Ideas) Overfloweth!

Rosalind AllenAnother month has begun, and I haven’t finished my Novella yet!  Eeek!  Not far off finishing though, just need to get them through the next part and then it is the end.  I have one beta reader / critiquer lined up already – if anyone else is interested in a 1920’s based Romance, please let me know.

NaNoWriMoAnd while it is October, planning is starting on my NaNoWriMo story.  NaNoWriMo?  National Novel Writing Month – it is the original 50k in 30 days challenge.  It is the northern hemisphere version of SoCNoC, and it is what conceived the original concept of SoCNoC.  So, I am writing another story, this time I have to crack the 50k word limit… Hmmm, could be interesting, as I haven’t been able to write 50k since 2011!  But I like a challenge.

And the ideas are just coming thick and fast!  I started writing a story year ago – I think it was not long after I originally finished the Chrystias story, about a Huntress.  She was kidnapped while out hunting one night.  While I liked the idea of her hunting, I wasn’t keen on the kidnapping thing, so another idea sprung up – which lead to another idea and another idea.  And now she is a half breed, rejected because of her deformity, which is actually what makes her really cool.  I would like to make this story a trilogy, so have to have plenty of action, but also finish the story with enough for a second one, but they are all stand alone.

Editing-wise I haven’t really got anything on the go, although I have Cursed Love going through the Critique group at the moment, and had some awesome feedback.  I love getting feedback, positive and negative.  Fortunately it has all been positive lately, which is great.

Its currently the school holidays, and I have this week to myself.  I am hoping to make productive use of my time and finish Whose That Girl this week so I can get editing on that in December, because then I have a couple of months to fix any problems and get my beta readers / critiquers to actually get their comments back to me.

So I guess I should be writing, and not mucking around on my blog…

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Critiquing, Beta Readers and Proofreading

Ice Planet Pin Board

Ice Planet Pin Board

JC Hart has invited me to critique her work through a private blog post and it got me thinking.  I really need to do something like that myself.

I have 5 novels in various stages of revision, and rather than keep them all to myself, I should really put them out there so that others can critique them.  Then I thought of something further (scary, I know!) I really need to consider getting myself not only critiquers, but Beta Readers and proof readers too!  And an editor.  Eek!

But the editor part can wait for now.  I want to try traditional print before I go down the Indie path, not because I don’t want to self publish, but I want to know that my work is good enough for a traditional publisher to want before I throw my own work out into the big wide world, because it can be hard to get your work noticed, regardless of whether you go through a publishing house or Indie.

Its a big step to be considered, and I am only part way through a novel, but it is something I am giving serious consideration to and starting from 1st July, I am going to start going through my other stories and deciding which ones I want to put out there.

And instead of putting it through a private blog, I will probably put it up on Google Drive, I can invite people to come and have a look at them and comment on the areas in different colours.

So if anyone out there is interested in critiquing (reading through, finding areas that need work)  romance, science fiction, fantasy, let me know.  If you want to be a beta reader, (someone who reads the story and tells me what they think), or a proof reaader (finding those pesky little errors that I miss) please comment below. 

November Writing Goals

The year has really run past me this year, and I have achieved a lot.  But here is an update of my November Goals.

# Get Chrystias finished off and start looking around for a publisher / agent for it. – Haven’t worked on this one.

# Create more short stories and really start to focus on developing this skill further – I haven’t written any short stories this month

# Get one short story published (in a magazine / e-zine) (something other than my own blog site!) – I haven’t submitted anything this month.

# Finish off some story ideas and start writing the next novel – the first draft to be completed before the end of the year (2010) –  Medusa’s Garden completed, currently working on Tobias and Arabella, my gothic novel.

# Encourage some of my writing friends – This month was great for critiquing others work, I still have a couple which got away on me, but I haven’t forgotten you!

November was an incredibly busy month for me, and as a result my writing has gone by the board.  I really want to get onto the Gothic novel and get it finished before the end of December, but this month is also getting away on me!  Fingers crossed!

 

Critiquing – Assisting or Defeating?

I have done a lot of critiquing, and I have had some work critiqued.  I like reading other peoples work, and as a result of critiquing (and proofreading) I have found a new appreciation for literature.  But I have to wonder, if I am being too critical of the work I am critiquing because I am a writer.

What I mean by this is – I write because I want people to read it.  I read because I enjoy a story.  I often read and critique as I go, so that I get an idea of the story, therefore most of my comments are more about the flow of the story or spelling errors, or something that isn’t quite right.  I try not to be nitpicky about issues (unless it is a word that occurs a lot – like ‘then’) because it might also be a fault that I myself have.

Having had some work done through a critiquing site, I have often found that my work is seriously dressed down (done in the nicest possible way, of course!).  They tell me what is wrong with my story and why I need to change it.  Often it is only one or two people out of the ten to twenty who will read it, but I wonder if they are missing the bigger picture.  Are they reading the story for enjoyment, or are they ripping it apart because they see their own faults in it, or because they are jealous that my story is better than their writing?

That’s a hard one to answer, and when I first started formulating this article, I wondered if perhaps I was too critical in my critiquing.  I don’t read other published stories and pick holes in it (there is a blog out there, totally involved in critiquing the entire Harry Potter series – obviously someone with nothing else to do!)  Once a story is published, it is there to be read, not ripped to pieces and all the faults pointed out.  If the yarn is good enough, you won’t notice the faults.

I have recently given a story to a friend who is an English Teacher and asked her if she would read over it, critique it if you will.  She agreed.  She kept telling me how much she enjoyed reading it, and how she liked the story, the only fault was the timing of the story (which is something that does admittedly need work).  I wonder what my writing friends will think?  Will they view the story as a whole and work on that, or will they find fault with it because they are a writer?

So here is some food for thought.  If you are asked to critique a story, consider it as a whole first.  Are you judging this story as  a writer or as a reader?

 

Critiquing – a Writers curse?

Recently I had a story critiqued.  It was a short story that I am keen to get into a publication, and a friend and I are working on our stories so we can submit together.

This story is one that I wrote last year, just as a way to get into short stories, basically a retelling of a fairy tale.  I struggled with it at the time, and a friend who is a prolific short story writer critiqued it for me the first time around.

I just seem to have this mental block when it comes to critiquing.  When I read it, instead of seeing positive changes that could be made, I read it as someone trying to point out my faults. 

It has taken me a while, but I now understand where that is coming from.  When I was younger, if I got good marks in an assignment or exam, my father, instead of saying “Well done!” would say – so why didn’t you get full marks. (I did on an assignment once, and to this day he has never said good work!).

I know that my fellow writers aren’t my father, and they aren’t deliberately trying to bait me in any way, but it still stings that I just can’t seem to pull it off on the first go.

I have since had the story critiqued again, and while there were some positive changes, there were still points that needed working.  And now, when I look at critiques, I try to focus on the parts where comments haven’t been made, because obviously those parts are alright!

On Friday, I posted up In the Clouds, my Friday Fiction and Cloud writing challenge.  Check it out here.

Editing: Nearing the End

I have only two chapters (one and a half really) and an epilogue to go and I have finished this round of editing, of not just this story, but the entire trilogy, which has taken me, for one reason or another, the best part of a year to complete.

I printed out the last chapters to read and edit in bed, and it must have been good, because I forgot to edit and just kept reading.  It is a while since I last read the ending, so I was surprised just how good it was (if I may say so myself!). 

Even though this is only the second time around, and there will be a third time, I have found that this time it hasn’t been quite so hard, even if I have been more critical of my own work.  The first edit was a beginners effort, and making it all the way to the third installment, I have realised just how amateurish it was.  This time the editing has been much more critical and more effective.  And having a couple of readers who have provided constructive criticism along the way has been of huge benefit.

I have also found that by critiquing other peoples work has made me more critical of my own, and I can see more clearly the failings in my own efforts.  Having the ability to look at someone elses work, then using that same eye to assess your own has taken some time to develop.  It is something that can only improve my own work and build on the base I have already created. 

Do I feel sad that another editing round has finished?  No actually, I am feeling rather excited because now I have clear ideas of what I really want in the story, and how I want the story to read, and also, because I plan on turning my trilogy into a single book, I have that to look forward to as well.  Yes, it means more editing, and perhaps some condensing and serious word cutting may be required, but after my big edit this time, I am not afraid to chop large clumps of redundant text!  So next year, onwards and upwards!

My goal this week is to actually finish the book, I have a couple of paragraphs left to go in Chapter 16, then the last chapter and the epilogue.  A big ask considering I start raspberry picking tomorrow for half a day, and school has now finished for the year.  I will try for Friday though.