Critique

019s

A new year, and new progress in my writing career. In 2014, I wrote for myself. I edited myself. I proofread myself. The Settlement novels were all me, all the time.

In 2015, I have so far tried two new things.

Thing One: participating in pitch contests like PitMad and SFFPit on Twitter. The first time I tried PitMad, I got three nibbles (actually four–one agent nibbled twice). Those three queries have led to two full manuscript requests and one flat-out rejection (alas). Because relatively little effort went into it, I don’t mind. It is exciting to be participating in the writing community, and I don’t need to be a mass-published author to enjoy my writing hobby (though of course it would be seriously cool to be a famous author).

Thing Two: I have joined an online community of writers that is active and that contains a lot of people who seriously know what they’re doing. It has left me feeling pretty beat up at times, but I have also learned so much, so fast. I have made leaps and bounds of progress in only two weeks. I am glad that I gave myself time to work out the worst of the kinks by myself; and now, I am glad that some other people are taking the trouble to kick out kinks for me.

I have a degree in English Literature. Let me tell you: that does nothing to teach a person how to write. Nothing. There is so much more to the craft, and so much of the common advice floating around is not quite right. One needs a mentor who knows what’s going on.

I am 100K words into The Next Project right now. One 8K word chapter is currently residing with one of the forum’s regulars, who will focus on critiquing the “tightness” of dialogue for me. Turns out that is one of my (several) weak spots. She has had the chapter for four days now, and I have compulsively checked my email every one of those four days. I entertain myself by speculating about what she’s doing with the chapter, given that she’s capable of producing high quality, highly detailed feedback in no time at all.

1. It was so brilliant she sent it to an agent (ha! No.)
2. It was so good that she is taking time to do a careful line-edit for me (possible).
3. She forgot it’s in her inbox.
4. She sent it back to the wrong address.
5. It was so bad that she is taking forever to do a careful line-edit for me.
6. Swearing and/or sexing in the MS put her off of communicating with me forever.
7. I need to chill the heck out and give the woman time (most likely).

My recommendation if you want to improve as a writer: get feedback. From people who don’t know you and don’t care if they hurt your feelings. They will kick you to the curb, and they will be right.

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