Wednesday, March 13, 2013


One of my loop discusses critque partners and when to get one. It's a very good question and I posted this to the group.
This post also explains how I like to begin a novel and get to the point where a critique partner would be helpful.

One thing to remember. Everyone has different needs when writing a story. Some want comments from a readers perspective. Some need
editing advice, some context.

One member suggested that there are good critiquers and critiquers who have a mean-spirited agenda who can bring an author to quit
writing. When I started critiquing a particular author, a friend and fellow writer told me to watch how I critique--NOT TO CHANGE THIS
WRITER'S VOICE (her style of writing if you will). I found this author to have a wonderful style, and I find critiquing now to be a challenge
and a trust. Like having a bird in your hand. It's hard not to interject your voice or style into someone else's.

I think the best time to start working with someone is after you've done the preliminaries, character studies,
maybe scene studies (yes, scene studies) etc. the first "shitty" rough draft,(my words)and unless your draft is really, really good (mine never is) a rewrite. Your critique partner can tell where you're headed with your novel and help you get past those pesky grammar faults, redundancies that are usually everywhere (at least in mine) echos (working on those now) and passives. (how Iove my passives). They can pinpoint when you're telling too much of the story (which distances your reader from the action)
and showing (which brings the reader right into the heart of the story. Sort of like watching a movie or a play. The reader can see their emotions and reactions from gestures, facial expressions and internal thoughts (if you're in their point of view).


Many folks are pantsers, that is they write from their heads rather than an outline. That works for many. I did it for several years. If you think your story is too short, maybe of a novella length (or even short story length) , unless you're aiming for that word count, may I suggest writing an OUTLINE.

Start with a PREMISE AND THEME for your story. Overall, what are you trying to say?

Write a brief SYNOPSIS, which you might want to lengthen to a long synopsis. Work on your character's GOALS, MOTIVATIONS AND CONFLICTS. How do you propose to resolve
their plights? And remember In order for a story to work, it must have CONFLICT. (Yes, I got that from Debra Dixon, GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict.) The book is dog-eared and well-used.

Start small and simple. Then start detailing your outline. Maybe use a CHAPTER OUTLINE. That's always fun. You may lengthen your novel without
even knowing it. I think doing that outline will save you time in revisions. It did for me. I'm back writing my second novel (started in the late 1990's) and I'm on my fourth version. If I wasn't so obsessed with my characters held in limbo, I would never have dragged it out. But there it is. I'm obsessed.

My two published novels (Waterlilies Over My Grave and In the Arms of the Enemy) started with writing a few chapters, then doing character studies, checking names and places and finally writing an outline. It got easier after that. But that's me. Many people don't outline.

In my opinion, for you to get the best critique (or for ME to get my best critique) I need to do the groundwork first, then turn it over to a critique partner.

Finding one is not easy. There are many critique groups online--some of which I've worked with. One of the best for me is: RWC (Romance Writers Community). They have a wonderful critique group. You do need to be a romance writer and have a romance novel for critique though.

Just my opinion.

Now, go get your coffee and a blueberry muffin.



Micki Peluso is the author of "And the Whippoorwill Sang" said...

What a well-written and informative post!! I never outlined until the middle of my book and boy was I sorry. I don't need the old form outlines we learned in school, but I do need to make a list of what i want where and refer back to it when I get lost. I may even do short outlines for my short stories.

Patricia A. Guthrie said...

Me too Micki. That's why I started outlining. That's why Legacy has three or four different versions. LOL and why I got lost in the middle.

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