As writers we are constantly second guessing our writing. Is it descriptive enough without too much exposition? Is that character’s personality clear? Does my action scene work? Are my character’s developing? There are many and varied queries as we write. To enable us to grow as writers, we need constructive critique from people we trust.
Here is a list of who you should ask:
Experienced editors and writers.
2. A writer in your niche.
3. Someone who has read your work before.
4. Your writing group.
When asking for feedback be specific in what you are asking, rather than say “let me know what you think.”
Here are a couple of examples of questions to ask:
Do you get a clear idea of the genre?
Can you relate to the characters?
Do you understand their motivations?
Does it have a good beginning/ending?
With specific scenes name it and then ask a question in relation to it.
Does the story flow?
Were the characters reactions to situations believable?
Was the story predicable?
What surprised you?
Which part was your favorite?
Remember feedback should be taken as constructive critique. You may not agree on their viewpoint, but use it to see your work in a different light/perspective. It is your work and you tell it the way you want.
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
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!
Writing Tip: Chuck Sambuchino
Remember the Three “P’s”: Patience, Perseverance, and maintaining your sense of Purpose.
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.
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.
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/
I welcome you to share your first week’s events, projects, meetings here as well.
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 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
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