Category Archives: critique

EDIT ALOUD

 

     All writers edit. How we edit may differ. Some of us might play music while reading through the work in progress. Some may need complete silence. The purpose of editing is to re-read the work written in hopes of catching mistakes or improving the rhythm of the sentences.

     How many times have you read through your work and thought, sounds good, only to have a critique partner point out that you repeated the same word twice? You have tons of run on sentences. You called your character Lori in the first paragraph and Cindy in the second. I have found that reading stories aloud helps highlight these types of mistakes.

     Our brains are much quicker than our mouths. When we scan through works without reading aloud we tend to see what is supposed to be there instead of what actually is. Last night a Facebook friend sent me a brain test where all the words were jumbled but somehow I was actually able to make out exactly what the sentence said. Eg. Our M1ND5 C4N DO 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5. Were you able to read that sentence? Chances are you were. This is the exact type of thing that happens when we are editing silently.  

     Reading aloud slows us down. When we read our words out loud we are forced to read more slowly and pay closer attention to what we have written.

     Reading aloud also allows us to hear the rhythm of our words. Words should have a flow and read effortlessly. There is nothing worst than having an interruption of your flow. It will stop a reader dead in their tracks and take away from the story.

     Editing aloud might not help you catch each and every mistake but it will most likely help you catch a few more than you would have.

     Do you have any editing tips you would like to share?

 

 

 

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CAN YOU SEE WHAT THEY SEE?

How many times have you edited your work? If you are anything like me, you have scanned over your manuscript too many times to count. It’s what we do. We write it, read it, adjust it, finish it and then come back to it. Upon coming back to it, we fix it, add to it, read it aloud and then send it off to someone else (usually a critique partner) to do the same.

No matter how many times we look at it ourselves, chances are someone else will see something we do not see. My critique partner and I were discussing this topic this past weekend. We shared thoughts on how amazing it is that we can’t pick up on things we write as easily as a fresh pair of eyes can. In her manuscript she chose a very creative name for one of her leading characters. She must have played around with the spelling before she decided on how she would spell it. As I skimmed through her words, I noticed that in some areas she had it spelled one way and then others a completely different way.

She noticed missing punctuation in my manuscript and a few missing or double usage of words.

No matter how many times either one of us checked our work there were still things we missed. I read once that when you are reading your own work your thoughts are filling in the gaps missing on paper. If it is not your thoughts it is easier for you to spot something missing, misspelled or overused. We all make mistakes, but it is better if we have another set of eyes looking for the mistakes we make. Four eyes, six eyes, eight eyes, are all better than two when it comes to perfecting your work.

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MY GUEST BLOG POST FOR AGENT BREE OGDEN

Do you think a writer needs to go on a diet? A writing diet that is. Check out my guest post over at This Literary Life. Bree Ogden (a super agent) was cool enough to allow me to write a blog for her site. It is the first time I have written for another blog as a guest and I’m super excited.

Make sure you leave a comment so I know you stopped by.

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Stay Tuned

I have been soooo consumed with life lately and my blog has suffered. Plus, my two-year old stepped on my laptop and cracked it. Anyway, I will be returning soon with an author interview that I’m very excited about.

Sorry for the absence. What’s a writer to do when life becomes extremely hectic?

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Why Writers Needs To Be Like The Bear

When I was a little girl, I spent time singing songs with my father. One of my favorites was “The Bear Went Over The Mountain.” I loved the tune of the song but didn’t understand why we had to keep singing the same lyrics and why the bear never saw anything other than another mountain. The other day I found myself singing this song and for the first time, I realized exactly what I was singing about and how it could pertain to me the writer. A writer is constantly climbing mountains only to get to the top and see there is another mountain to climb.

Think about the process of writing. An idea is sparked (Woo-hoo! Something is brewing), you feel inspired. You are thrilled that you have found something to write about. You take that idea and begin creating a story. All the thoughts that percolate in your head are exciting and you think this will be easy. But then, you hit a snag. The idea that seemed so simple is not flowing as effortlessly as you imagined. You come to the realization you have just climbed your first mountain. The only view from the top is another mountain.

You scribble down an outline. Fill in the blanks (High five the imaginary editor in your mind) and bang your story out. Seeing your thoughts manifest is thrilling. You complete the story and let it sit for a few days.

After some time has passed, you pull back out your work in progress and see errors that must be fixed. You edit, reedit (Try to shut up the loud shouts of self doubt echoing through your head and attempt to give yourself your millionth pep talk). When all is said and done you pat your self on the back for reaching the top of that mountain.

It’s time to start querying. You replenish your dehydrated mind and begin submitting. You feel pumped. Surely, someone will see the brilliance in your work and offer you representation. Days turn into weeks which turn into months. The smile that was decorating your face has been replaced with a frown. Rejections pour in and self doubt revisits. You are about to give up when an unexpected e-mail arrives and you are invited to send your full manuscript to a very cool agent. Where are we at? The bottom of another mountain getting ready to climb back up hoping when we do we will finally see that magical land we have been searching for.

When the “super cool” agent ends up rejecting your manuscript, you feel like you just fell off a cliff. You pick yourself up and begin scaling again.

A writer is never done. Their journey is long, the hills are endless, and the destinations are not known. Once you reach one goal you immediately must set another one. We must be like the Bear. We must keep climbing.

Share with us a moment when you reached a goal in writing. What happened once that goal was met? Did you climb another mountain?

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She’ll Be Coming

For the last few months I have waited with bated breath to hear back from my dream agent on whether or not she liked my manuscript and if she would be offering representation. It was a three step process. First, she liked my query and asked to see the first three chapters. I hurriedly sent her the requested material and crossed my fingers. I waited a few months. I was thrilled when the e-mail came and she asked me to forward her the full manuscript. I was so close to having an agent of my own. But, instead of getting an offer I got rejected. It was a very helpful rejection but nonetheless a rejection.

So, here I am back to square one. There has been one song that keeps playing over and over in my mind, it is…

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Critiquing Etiquette


Today’s post will be dedicated to critiquing etiquette. In my previous post, I listed a bunch of blogs that I thought about writing but didn’t and promised to write the one that got the most comments. Jan from Crazy Jane the writing life of Jan Morrison left the first comment advising she’d be interested in reading a blog on proper critique etiquette. Jan, this one is for you. Medeia Sharif commented that she liked “Thinking about Writing is Not Writing”, stay tuned for that blog post.

Early in my writing career I learned that to become a great writer you must trust others to help you see the error of your ways. I was lucky enough to find a great critique group lead by an excellent writer. Throughout the years some of the writers left the group for different reasons but every one of them helped me learn the craft.
I believe the most important thing to remember when critiquing the work of another is to do it with class.
* Don’t be sarcastic
* Don’t critique the person, critique their work
* Don’t compare their writing to yours
* Don’t focus on negative things only
* Don’t tell them that their story will never sell
* Don’t make them hate writing
* Don’t be afraid to be honest
Where you are weak someone else is strong and vice versa. I might be weak in punctuation and grammar but strong in plot structure. I could have a great plot but if my commas are in the wrong places and my sentences are run-ons, an agent or publisher might reject me quicker than a child going down a water slide.

*Do let the writer know any spots that confuse you. Sometimes the writer thinks they are conveying exactly what walks around in their mind when they are not.

* Be honest but tactful. Always add some sugar to your words. Don’t make your fellow writer feel like they have just been punched in the stomach. Do say something like “I like the imagery in this scene but I am not sure it offers any merit to the story.”
Don’t say something like “This scene is completely irrelevant. I think my fifth grader could do better.”

*If you are going to offer a critique, don’t be lazy about it. There is nothing worst than receiving a critique that only has a comment every ten pages. If you think the story and writing is superb and needs no adjustments for several pages list something positive, like “Wow, I just read through two chapters without stopping,” or “I loved this sentence.” The smallest comment can build confidence.

*Critique someone else’s work the way you would like your work critiqued.

*Try and keep your deadlines. I have only participated in online critique groups. I have never attended a face to face critique session. The way our online critique group worked was we had six members, three would submit in the beginning of the month and three at the end. We requested that all critiques be sent in no longer than three weeks. (You can decide your own time frames).

*If you are providing a critique and sending it via e-mail, be sure that your comments are written in a different font color. Imagine how difficult it would be to search for comments if everything was in black.

*If you cannot give a critique for any reason please let the receiver know. It is not nice to make them wait only to tell them later that you didn’t get to it. Sometimes life interferes with commitments. When this happens it is okay to inform your peers that you won’t be able to offer a critique this time around due to whatever circumstance arises.
An instructor once told me to immediately start editing after receiving a critique. She explained it is better because everything will be fresh in your mind. I have found that this cannot always be done. It is okay to skim through a critique and then tuck it away for a week. Many times comments or suggestions that made me want to cry initially became much clearer and made perfect sense a few days later.

What did I forget? Are you in a critique group? What makes a good critique group?

*There are no mistakes in writing only lessons to be learned*

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