When To Open Your Story Up To Critique

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As always, writing advice is subjective;  do what works for you.

But early on in my writing endeavors, I read a book that changed the way I thought about drafting and receiving critical feedback on my work, so I wanted to share my method…

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Things Making Me Think

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Happy Friday!

How was your week? I had a good one comprised of Monday cocktails, solo dinners, and visiting old colleagues and realizing I definitely made the right choice in leaving my old job and taking this new one. And not just because I now get ice cream at work.

I decided to change the name of this series to “things making me think” because thinking is (usually) a good thing.

Here are those things:

at my new job, I get to write a blog. the first post I wrote, and first interview I’ve ever done, is up!

if you’re having a bad day

screw you guys, they’re not ugly

a successful query

this is important! and not just to grammar nerds like myself!

these are so cool, and giving me all kinds of novel setting ideas

this just made laugh

Reading: About 3/4 of the way through this, and while I’m still engrossed in this world, I don’t know if this installment is going to be my fave of the three. It’s wayyyy slower.

Writing: I abandoned my YA fantasy in favor of my previously abandoned YA contemporary about kids on a stage crew. It’s going along, mostly, though I’m realizing there are a lot of things I don’t remember in enough detail about my days on stage crew. I may need to try and talk to someone who does it currently. We shall see.

Watching: Started watching this, for work-related purposes. Not totally hooked yet–I feel like it’s Mad Men ten years later with more nudity and less clever writing–but I’m only one episode in.

Listening to: Got nostalgic and started listening to the Billy Joel Pandora station. It’s good when you’re in that mood.

Cooking: These are amazing. They don’t stay together very well, but you’re eating them, not photographing them, so who cares?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Lovely image found here

What Part Are You Good At?

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I have an important question to ask you writers on this rainy (if you’re in the tri-state area) Monday…

What part are you good at?

Here is my great curse as a writer:

I’m really good at climaxes.

And that’s not just my own personal opinion. My readers tend to agree: “Once I got to the climax, I could not put it down!”

And the weird thing is, I tend to not have to draft the climaxes millions of times, like I feel like I do with the rest of the novel. They come together pretty quickly for me.

But that means there are other parts I’m less good at. Such as: middles.

I’m terrible at middles.

Especially the beginning of the middle. I’m in the middle of yet another first draft and I’m past the inciting incident, which means I’m just now starting the dreaded middle. I’m trying to build the characters, up the stakes, seed in all the important elements for the climax, all while maintaining the voice of the novel, and of course, continuing to up the tension.

It’s hard. And it’s getting … saggy. There’s so much to put in while also so much balance to maintain. Between action and characterization, voice and tension, foreshadowing, but not too blatant foreshadowing … like I said: hard.

I get through it by telling myself it’s the first draft and I’ll fix it later. But it bugs me that drafting the majority of my story is this hard. I wish I could just skip ahead to the climax–and sometimes I do, jotting down these scene and that one in a fit of excitement–but in general I’ve found that if I don’t write in a somewhat linear fashion, that means way more editing later, because things change so much throughout the drafting process.

It could be worse. I could be terrible at beginnings. Beginnings I’m generally considered pretty good at–not amazing at the way I am climaxes, but good. (After several drafts, of course.)

It’s important to be good at beginnings, because no one is going to read on if they don’t like your beginning. But it’s also important to have a good middle. You can lose a reader with a saggy middle. And then it doesn’t matter how amazing your climax is; the reader’s not going to get there if the other parts aren’t up to par.

Some of my favorite writers and books of all time (ahem) have fantastic beginnings, middling middles, and meh-ish endings. Of course, the best books ever are amazing the whole way through. And that’s what I’m striving for: amazing the whole way through.

So how about you? Are there parts you’re particularly good at? Bad at? Do you have tips for me on getting through the middle? I’d love to hear…

Image found here