Tuesday, February 15, 2011
My FIRST Writers Group Workshop of my work. (AKA Emotional Trauma 101)
I selected this pic because A)It's wicked cool, no? B)It's sorta how I felt when they finished with the "review" of my work.
Don't misunderstand...they gave me all kinds of great ideas and found the loop-holes I wanted them to and I have A LOT of work to do...but...
I HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO.
Oh...and it was emotionally EXHAUSTING. Both a creative and emotional overload and as my creativity is directly connected to me emotionally...I was quite brain dead by the time we finished and feeling a wee bit trampled on. But what miiight have had something to do with that was how long we were at it.
No joke. Three hours where we go around a looong table and allow each person to be "candid" about what they think of the sample chapters I gave out of the first book of The Cameron Chronicles.
Not sure I can put it into words but I'm going to try. Mainly because I recommended that fellow writers join one of these groups...AND I STICK BY THAT...so I want you to know what can happen when you get "reviewed."
Before I go any further though...I want to profess my love for these people. They have the best in their heart for me and want my work to improve and because of that, I lived through this. They are great people.<3 <3 <3
I also learned something interesting about how these things work. Something I was more informed on AFTER my soul was filleted. Something I'd have liked to have understood before hand. I want to share it with you but I want you to know that not all groups work the same so don't read too much into it. Okay?
Large groups with lots of things to contribute = something they believe in...something that can be fixed and made better...something that has potential. It's when they look at you with nothing to say it's possibly because they don't have anything to say to save your work and don't know how to say to you that it should die. ----or as one person in the group was told once, a while ago, "Your characters should all die a firey death." Ouch.
Now, something that's great about my group is that they don't all read Fantasy. So you get great questions that make you think outside the box a bit. I highly recommend that the group you get to read things read books that aren't just in YOUR genre. Think of it this way, you want more than just the typical readers to love you, right? I mean, I write Fantasy but I would love it if I were to capture those who read other stuff too.
13 people, 14 if you count me, showed up with notes in hand and at 3:30pm we began (finishing at 6:30pm with a drastic need for an alcoholic beverage!). I brought my laptop with me so as to take notes on the "bad stuff" so as to fix it. One of my biggest questions was should the prologue jump off a cliff or stay alive and well.
Unanimously it was told to jump off the cliff.
Good to know. Consider the prologue gone GONE GONE!
Some of the issues addressed were things I already knew about myself with concern to "1st drafts". First, I tend to need to be hit with a "correct grammar" stick badly (which my answer is usually, "That's why you get an editor.") AND secondly, I tend to drop large chunks of info/description which disrupts the flow of the read. It's a first draft...whatever. I want the info stuck in my head to get out of it, so I tend to vomit a bit (metaphorically speaking of course) onto the page with info. It happens. I'm aware. I'm working on it.
Now, the big thing that hit me was that they had problem with the "voice" of it. I've written Sean for years so to hear that was confusing. Even my friend Alexis, who has red LDG, said Sean didn't sound the same. I mean, he's younger in this but he should still sound the same so it got me to thinking. I'd tried writing it in 3rd person before and it had given me pause, many times, but that is probably the problem; it's written in 1st person and I understand Sean in a 3rd person setting. It's how he's written in LDG so...ya know those 50K words I've completed on the book?
Say it with me....REEEEE-DO! (into 3rd person)
Damn damn damn damn damn. *sigh*
There were other notes that got my attention as well...small things that had never occurred to me before and now they are on my list to "fix". I'm super grateful for being pointed out to me! Then there were notes that I felt were, well...less valid. I jotted them down though in case I change my mind.
Be aware of a few things before you get critiqued.
A) It's YOUR book. In the end, the information they give you is just that. Use it as you see fit. You will never make everyone happy.
B) They will contradict themselves. Some will ask for more of "Item A", some will ask for less of "Item A", some will want one thing while others think it's not needed. Listen for the majority.
C) Remember to have a sense of humor. Unless you're perfect, and you're not...no one is, you've made mistakes and some of them will trigger laughter. Be able to laugh with it. It helped me tremendously when I would see from "their eyes" vs. my own.
D) Rein in your anger. Someone could very likely trigger something in you that makes you upset. Let's face it, you are already sitting there with your soul bared ---that thick skin pulled away so as to really hear what they have to say--- hence, you are vulnerable. It's easier for someone to bump a nerve. Hence, I recommend that you take a few deep breaths and rein it in. Now, if you're still upset about something 24hrs later, talk to someone about it. Either the person who upset you, or someone who knows them better than you. I did and I feel much better about the whole thing.
E) Bring a laptop or note pad with you to take notes on the good, the bad and the ugly. You may feel that you'll never forget those things they said that caused emotional trauma, burning things into your brain. But you will. Plus, it'll be easier to look through it all and find the things everyone agreed on easier.
A week later, I have now reworked the first chapter (after dumping aforementioned prologue) and it honestly is a better book, a better character, with less loop-holes and a more solid basis for the top of a novel. Once it is proofed a bit more I'll post it so you can see the difference. But for now, know that this "ripping of my soul" was totally worth it.
Many thanks to those in my group. I'll be a better writer because of you all.
P.S. At one point we got on this tangent about bloodwine. Don't ask. Anyway...someone Googled it and shared this with me (Yay Clarice!). BLOODWINE RECIPE That's right folks...there is a recipe for it! And on the mobile verson (which is what this link is) you'll note it falls under "Diet and Weightloss". LMAO!!! Enjoy!
Note: If clicking on the word doesn't take you there, cut and paste this into your browser window. http://mobile.associatedcontent.com/article/5691726/bloodwine_recipe.html?cat=51