I belong to a writer’s group. We meet on Wednesdays in Cuenca, Ecuador from 12:00 to 3:00 at a local restaurant. Most of us arrive early to eat lunch before we begin. Now, I’ve belonged to quite a few groups, starting way back in my early college days…Groups where the individuals were so focused on showing how much they know about writing, groups where they are so ready not only to tell you how to write, but what you should write about. Most of these groups were pretty useless to me, but I did pick up some valuable things from them. The problem was I didn’t stay long, the sessions were a grueling exercise of slash and burn critique, clashing egos, and, in the end, dispiriting.
This group works! We bring material…no more than 1500 words, must bring copies, double spaced, readable font, which we pass out to everyone. After the writer reads his/her selection we go around the table and comment. Comments are the personal opinion of the speaker and for the most part stated as such. Very few “must, should, can’t” statements. More “I would like more…I wonder…I don’t understand…statements.”
The hard part for me when I first joined was that the writer is not allowed to speak, no explanations…just sit there and listen. That now is my favorite thing about the group, that and getting the copies back with everyone’s notes on them. Not being able to respond, defend, explain, what I was doing forces me to listen and hear what the reader is reading in my work, not what I meant to write. It’s good for me. It works. I am writing more and I am writing better.
Try it, join a group, one that actually gets together in person, or online. Find one that works for you.
by Esther Elizabeth Suson Editing is its own kind of high. As the supposed final voice on the manuscript, a bit of smugness might creep in. If the motion has become too mechanical, we stop reading in breathless anticipation of skillful wording and hard-hitting sentences. Instead, we live for that casual flick of the pen […]
via Editing: Discovering the Heart of the Writer — The Disinterested Interpreter
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Michelangelo
I am in the throes of editing my most recent novel. I have taken my last stab at it myself and sent it out naked and afraid into the hands of other readers to be picked over and marked up. It is a terrible time. The copies will come back to me with heart-breaking slashes, corrections, ideas and warnings…but as painful as some of those will be that is precisely what I want, what is best for me and for my novel. My writing group gives me the input along the way and for me that is a great boon, but this sending my baby out whole to be judged in the harsh light of “Here it is, it’s done,” is nerve wracking. These critiques I prefer to get whole, not a running commentary in bits and pieces over the days. Drop the whole ten ton package on me at once; I will accept the sudden crushing weight and slowly…days, weeks…will begin to sort through it all. I will launch happily into the punctuation corrections, because I suck at it. I will look hard at the grammar, because sometimes they’re right. The toughest parts are the suggestions on story line, character, dialogue, plot movement…my darling quips torn to shreds, that perfect scene devasted, etc. Hard to swallow, hard to bear…but in the end I do swallow it, not whole by any means. Some comments and suggestions are easily discarded…not my story, not what I’m doing. It’s the ones that hit home…that “Oh, my god, they’re right. How do I fix it?” Those are the real prizes received from this stage. Those are the jewels that I receive from this scariest part of my process.
I love my final edit readers, love and fear them. So bring it on!
Numerius Meridus Pulcher and the Case of the Syrian Slaves and Slippery Slopes
Made my last edits and have sent off copies to some readers. I am also making a couple of paper copies for the final “eyeballing” of various persons. What a relief!
I am into the final editing of my second book in the Numerius Meridius Pulcher series, Numerius Meridius Pulcher and the Case of the Syrian Slaves and Slippery Slopes.
I really do hate editing! Punctuation I hate most! All those commas, semi-colons…and I use a lot of them in the Numerius stories…a style choice. Much easier with the New Orleans series, shorter sentences, shorter chapters. Could I write the same way for the Numerius Series? Certainly, but then it wouldn’t be Numerius. So I muddle on.