Tag Archives: critique

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

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As I told you all earlier, I submitted part of my speculative fiction novel, Life in Slake Patch to our current Writer in Residence – Richard van Camp. He answered with:

I’ve had a read of your intro and it seems to me that you find your rhythm in Chapter 4. I found the first three chapters to go so quickly, too quickly, that I couldn’t get a lock on any of the characters or their back stories.  Perhaps a rewrite of your intro?  My advice is slow down; take your time. Have fun with each scene. Sights, smells, etc. Give us setting; give us tone; set the mood.

Now for new or seasoned writers, critique is a double edged sword, some is favorable, some not but all should be taken as constructive rather than destructive. Several rewrites previously I took another writer in residence advice and ‘info dumped’ at the beginning of this story to ‘set the scene’.

So do I change it or not? Do I follow my gut and revise to balance the slightly conflicting advice from these two marvelous authors? Or do I rewrite a completely different introduction? This is something I will ponder and decide after careful consideration.

Have you experienced conflicting critique?

How did you resolve the matter? Did you change it or not?

Books: My review of The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

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The story was a neat concept but fell short, unlike Claire’s previous two books. The character was complex, the story arc well constructed but the use of numerous synonyms of words detracted from the flow of the story – taking me out of the narrative. I understand as a fellow author that these descriptions were an explanation of the main character’s inner most thoughts but they were too much of a distraction for me.

However, it will in no way put me off reading another of Claire’s books – her ability to engage a reader is wonderful in The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August & Touch.

I have just started reading – I Can See You by Joss Landry.

I was engaged from the first page!

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Writing Tip: Chuck Sambuchino

Remember the Three “P’s”:  Patience, Perseverance, and maintaining your sense of Purpose.

Do you have a writing tip to share?

What book can you recommend?

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours…


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After meeting the new Writer in Residence yesterday, I will send him an invite to speak at our next writing meeting of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County on 7th February. Richard van Camp is a personable, funny and engaging personality with a drive to help other writers succeed. I feel his residency will propel many writers to publication. I may send him a few pages of my current work in progress too – it is always good to get new perspectives of your work.

http://www.sherwoodparknews.com/2016/12/05/creative-writer-in-residence

My other appointment yesterday was with a new freelance writing client. An interesting concept that will take several months of collaboration.

This coming week I have two board meetings. The first is with the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and we will set out event dates and new programs/projects for the year. This will include the annual conference, a writing retreat and the annual Words in the Park.

The second meeting is of the Arts and Culture Council of Strathcona County – detailing plans for our Arty Party to be held on 21st January and planning for other events later in the year, which will include a summer BBQ celebrating diversity, culture and Canada’s 150 birthday.

https://www.facebook.com/events/407736716231777/  Arty Party

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What events do you have planned for January? Care to share?

 

New Year Schedule Begins -Events…


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As I begin 2017 my first week includes my writers group meeting on 3rd January. The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County meets every first Tuesday of each month year round. We share our writing for constructive critique, exercise our writing muscles with prompts and on occasion enjoy a talk on a particular writing related subject.

I find these meetings to be a wealth of inspiration, a great place to network and allow me to receive feedback on writing projects.

This week also sees our new Writers in Residence for Edmonton and area. This scheme allows writers/authors to receive excellent feedback on sections of their manuscripts. https://www.epl.ca/news/libraries-name-2017-writers-in-residence/

Our ‘local’ author will be: http://www.albertanativenews.com/edmonton-metro-libraries-welcome-2017-writer-in-residence-richard-van-camp/

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I welcome you to share your first week’s events, projects, meetings here as well.

Happy New Year to you All.

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Literary News & Fun On Friday’s…


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My community announced the new Writers in Residence for 2014 recently – the details are below.

I would like to say if you have the opportunity to meet and gain wisdom and help from a Writer in Residence, then do so. Having an expert review your work and give you authoritative assistance, all for free, is worth its weight in gold. If you are unsure contact your local library for their residency details.

Margaret Macpherson Margaret_smaller

Margaret Macpherson has worked as a full-time professional writer, teacher and editorial/educational mentor for the last decade. With a Masters of Fine Arts (Creative Writing) from UBC and she was widely published in newspapers and magazines both nationally and internationally before moving to Alberta in 1994.

After a career in journalism and teaching, which took her to the East Coast and Bermuda, Margaret began playing in long narrative prose. She has subsequently published seven books, both fiction and non fiction, including a biography entitled Nellie McClung: Voice for the Voiceless which won the Canadian Authors Association (CAA) Exporting Alberta Award in 2004.

Her collection of short stories Perilous Departures (2004), and her first novel, Released (2007) were both nominated for Manitoba Book Awards and her last novel Body Trade won the DeBeers Northwords Prize in 2012.

An essayist, poet and storyteller, Margaret has worked as a fiction editor for three different literary magazines and regularly performs poetry and aural story telling.
She represented Alberta in the National CBC Poetry Face-Off (2006) and has won (and lost) the coveted Story Slam championship.

An expressive arts practitioner, Margaret mucks about with oils and pastels and has sold the odd watercolour. She has written and co-produced a CD of original music and has had one of her plays produced in Vancouver’s NewWorks festival.

Although Edmonton has been home for the last 18 years, Margaret grew up in the Northwest Territories, and has lived extensively in Halifax, Bermuda, Vancouver and Nelson, BC. She lives with her husband, three kids and a very black cat.

Jason Lee Norman

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Jason Lee Norman was born and raised in the Edmonton area. With a degree in English from the University of Alberta and a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester he returned to Edmonton in 2009 to make his fortune. He is the author of two short story collections: ‘Americas’ and ‘Beautiful Girls & Famous Men’ and is the co-founder of the #yegwords (Words with Friends) creative writing collective which holds regular events in Edmonton throughout the year, including the very popular Word Crawl.
In 2013 he introduced Edmonton to 40 Below: Edmonton’s Winter Anthology. 70 pieces of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction all about or inspired by winter in Edmonton. 40 Below was published by Jason’s small publishing concern Wufniks Press.

In the past few years Jason has nominated himself for dozens of awards but has won very few. He hopes to one day finish his novel so that it may receive a scathing review in the National Post. Thus completing the circle of life

Full article here:  http://metrowir.com/

Literary Magazine link: http://www.everywritersresource.com/literarymagazines/

And for the fun part of today : Invent your own country! It can be on earth or another planet. Inhabited by humans or aliens. Hostile or idyllic.  Let your imagination go wild.FunDay

Sunday Snippets…19 May


sunday_snippets2Apologies to everyone for missing the snippets recently. My back problems are making sitting, standing or even lying down difficult! I’m on the mend so hopefully back to normal soon.

Please visit these other authors excellent blogs:

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com

http://jordannaeast.com

http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/

http://wehrismypen.wordpress.com

http://jlroeder.wordpress.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/

http://ashortaday.wordpress.com

http://www.michellezieglerauthor.com

http://joeowensblog.wordpress.com/

Todays word describes my body’s complaints to a T:     Inveigh – definition: to protest or complain bitterly.

Sunday Snippets – 24 March …


sunday_snippets2Sorry for the delay – this section is from my novel, Life in Slake Patch, a speculative alternative future novel. Men and women live in separate compounds with visiting on only one day. It is from the viewpoint of the main character, Evan. I’m interested in what imagery you get from this.

I entered the laundry to the familiar sound of heavy hoof beats. At the rear of the building were six oxen harnessed to a tread wheel. The motion moved a system of pulleys by way of thick ropes, high in the ceiling. Through a series of cogs the ropes turned wooden struts, which were submerged in large vats of soapy water, twisting the clothes. The water was heated by a furnace situated between the laundry and the brewery house.  The machine had been built using a plan found amongst the books in the library ten years previously, which made the laundry duty a much faster and more frequent process. The lye soap aroma had me remembering how I would watch my mother and sister make it. They mixed the lye with melted lard and water then boiled it. I can remember running out of the cabin shouting.

“That smells so disgusting Mother.”

“That is as maybe my boy but without it you would be blacker than mud.”

Later when the mixture thickened it was poured into shallow pans and once it had hardened I would help cut it into blocks. It was not a favorite chore but once the blocks were completed mother allowed me to deliver some to her neighbors. It gave me the opportunity to play ‘seek and hide’ with other boys in the compound, an enjoyable excursion from chores.

Jacob had told me that before the laundry machine had been built, men would wear their clothes until the smell was too much even for them to bear. At that time washing was limited to bashing the clothes with rocks in the river and then only when the river bank was clear of ice. In the winter months, so Jacob says, it was all you could do to sit next to someone. The stench within the long houses had many men risking the bitter winter cold just for relief from it.

Fellow Snippet Bloggers:

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://wyrmflight.wordpress.com/

http://www.mandyevebarnett.com

http://womanbitesdog.wordpress.com/

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com

http://jordannaeast.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com

http://writerscrash.blogspot.ca/

http://joeowensblog.wordpress.com/

Sunday Snippets…


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Firstly apologies for not participating last week – life took over! I will continue where I left off with my reincarnation romance – The Twesome Loop – Brett has found the details of a rich spinster and plans to investigate her. He notes her particulars then…

Breathing a sigh of relief he then noticed the file was not for Mr. Collin at all, but for the senior partner, Mr. Forbes. Although Brett had tried to advance his position to become Mr. Forbes’ assistant, the old man disliked change and preferred to have his original secretary, Miss Coombes, who must have been ninety if a day. This may well be the day he not only got to further his career but also got his hands on a substantial amount of money.

“I’ll just be a minute, Dawn, I have a file for Mr. Forbes. If Mr. Collin arrives, please tell him his files are catalogued and ready for him.”

“Yes, Mr. Shaw. When you return will you need dictation?”

“No, I have some other matters to attend to, thank you.”

He didn’t have time for a quickie .He had more important things to do, like finding out as much as he could about Miss Lynch without raising suspicion. Brett walked down the corridor towards the senior partner’s office; it was difficult keeping his excitement in check until he turned to see Miss Coombes shriveled form hunched over her desk. It always gave Brett the shivers looking at her wizened form.

“Miss Coombes is Mr. Forbes in his office?”

“Of course he is, Mr. Shaw, where else would he be at this time of day?”

Brett nodded and rolled his eyes as he turned to gently tap on the oak door. A muffled voice commanded him enter. Forbes sat behind a dark oak desk, which gleamed with years of polishing. The aroma of Cuban cigar smoke hung in the air.

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com

http://jordannaeast.com

http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/

http://wehrismypen.wordpress.com

http://jlroeder.wordpress.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/

Writer’s Need A Thick Skin…


As writers we need to develop a thick skin or allow unkind comments to be ‘water’ off a duck’s back – such is today’s word – Caustic – definition: 1) capable of eating away by chemical action : corrosive 2) likely to offend or hurt someone’s feelings.

English: La Belle Sauvage - motto and emblem f...

Submitting our creations to agent’s and publisher’s is daunting enough without the numerous rejection letters we receive back. Some bounce back via email almost immediately, stunning us at the quick reaction but other’s remain in a void for many months. These are possibly harder to cope with as our eternal optimism believes the delay in replying is a positive thing. We imagine our manuscript being read by increasingly important staff on the corporate ladders of the publishing firm. Eventually landing on the CEO’s desk where our creation is read with reverence and pleasure prior to the acceptance letter being dictated and sent out.

We can be deterred by a rejection and stomp around berating the said publishing house for not realizing its potential or we can learn from the experience. This second choice is the hardest and there is no reason why a good stomp can’t be enjoyed first! If we are fortunate enough to actually get comments written on a rejection letter or slip, we must treasure them. If the writing, concept or plot is truly bad there are no comments just a form letter. However, comments mean the manuscript was seen to have merits but needed work in some way or another. Take heed of these gems and revise to incorporate them. A newly revised submission may get accepted because of them.

My writing group is very conscious of and encourages, kind but constructive critique offered with compassion. To be blasted with unkind words or forced to write in a certain way, has a detrimental effect on another person’s writing and emotions. Be kind to those people who ask for your opinion and offer your honest critique without self interest or bias. There are as many styles of writing as there are writers so be open to the differences – you may learn something about your style through the interaction.

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We may need a thick skin but there are ways of surviving without one.

Do you have an experience – good or bad – you could share?

Sunday Snippets…


sunday_snippets2Continuing with the snippets I have decided to highlight the opening of another WIP. The title for the novel is The Twesome Loop. It is a romance with a reincarnation twist.

Brett gave Dawn a wink as he passed her desk. Her eyes smiled back as he took in her deep cleavage and musky perfume, a memory flashed into his mind of how her full breasts bounced when she was astride him.

“Good morning, Mr. Shaw. Do you need me to take dictation?”

“Not quite yet, thank you, Dawn – Mr. Collin has asked me to sort his files before ten o’clock but later I will want you. For now, just a coffee would be great.”

The innuendo hung in the air as Brett opened his office door to find a large pile of documents on his desk. He’d really have to push to get them all done in time. As he surveyed the bundles of legal documents, he glanced at the probates to see how much each estate was worth and how many heirs were entitled to it.

In the past two years, as Mr. Collin’s assistant, he had seen several large estates, but all were divided into paltry amounts, as far as Brett was concerned. He was waiting for the ‘big one’; the one that would change his life.

After an hour, only a few more bundles were left to sort and that’s when he saw it – the one. He reread the probate sum to be sure. It was worth over four million pounds and to only one heir, a daughter. Even better, she was a spinster. Ensuring he was not observed, he wrote down the daughter’s particulars and put the slip of paper in his top pocket.

This character is the scoundrel of the story. Do you dislike him?

Thank you for any comments.

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://wyrmflight.wordpress.com/

http://www.mandyevebarnett.com

http://womanbitesdog.wordpress.com/

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://jordannaeast.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com

http://ileandrayoung.com

 

Inept – now there’s a word that resonates…


Inept – Definition: 1) not suited for the occasion: inappropriate 2) lacking in skill or ability: incompetent

No matter at which point we are in our writing journeys, feelings of being inept plaque us. We can all make a long list of insecurities and worries about our style, skill level and current Work in Progress. My question is – if we didn’t have these uncertainties would we be a ‘better’ writer or not?

Striving for perfection can easily become an obsession and our work will suffer for it. There is a fine balance between a polished piece of work and a ‘ruined’ one. On the other hand expecting an agent or publisher to over-look editing and grammatical errors because we feel our manuscript is unique is a major flaw. Reading as a professional would, is the key, although this in itself is a difficult task after spending months if not years creating our story. We are engaged with the characters and their conflicts and struggles. They have become ‘real’ to us and the story runs in our minds rather than on the page. This is the crux of the problem – are we actually reading the words or playing out the story?

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The Internet is full of writing tips as we all know but some recurring ones on tightening up a manuscript have commonalities.

  1. Leave the manuscript unread for a period of time.
  2. Read the story from back to front – chapter by chapter.
  3. Focus on one aspect of editing at a time. i.e. grammar, plot lines etc. (I’ve even heard of one author printing her manuscripts on different colored paper for each revision!)
  4. Have other people read it and critique (honestly).
  5. Send a section to a professional editor.
  6. Take advantage of a local Writer in Residence for feedback.
  7. Read a section out loud to your writer’s circle and ask for comments.

Author Reading

However, feelings of being inept are not just limited to our written work. Are you confident in public speaking? It is one thing reading to a group of people you know but what about in the public domain? Author readings are a great way to present your work and create interest in your stories.

  1. Practice the piece you are going to read in front of a mirror.
  2. Take care in your selection of clothing, depending on the venue and audience age.
  3. Choose a section or chapter with lots of action or intrigue.
  4. Remember to look up at your audience and gesticulate.
  5. Project your voice and don’t mumble.
  6. Don’t rush – this is the hardest!
  7. Be prepared to answer questions at the end.

The above tips work well for live interviews as well, either on radio or television. You may have some flexibility with these if they are not ‘live’ and can re-take the whole interview or a part of it.

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Social media is another avenue of uncertainty for many writers and authors. Cherishing your work in a desk drawer is great but if you are serious about releasing it into the public domain you need to invest some time into this resource.

  1. Research what type of social media, authors in the same genre are using.
  2. Carefully investigate the multitude of options available. There is not a ‘one fits all’.
  3.  Pick the sites that best suit your level of commitment. (How much time you are willingly to put into them as it can take over your life if you let it!)
  4. A blog is a useful tool to increase your profile. Decide on what theme, style, subject and frequency you can fulfill.
  5. Link to similar genre writers on web sites such as Twitter.
  6. Utilize your personal sites to connect to groups.
  7. Utilize ‘sharing’ sites, such as Networked Blogs and options on other web sites. i.e. WordPress.com links to face book, twitter and Google +

Conquer your feelings of ineptitude with your ‘writing’ support system, whatever that entails. Whether a writing circle, close friends or family that encourage you or virtual supporters – reach out – you’ll be surprised. Remember to offer support back too – it is not only very rewarding but expands your writing ‘community’.

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