Monday, April 25, 2016

On Writing & Critique

I suppose what has not really come across in this blog is that I am a writer. 
Not an author, mind you - at least not yet - but I write.  Essays, poetry, short stories, this little blog.... and I have, over the years, tried my hand at writing a novel.

I'm working on a murder mystery.  It's my first attempt at this genre, and I'm learning a lot that I never really thought about.  Like the fact that, if you want it to really work, you have to know equally as much about the character that is killed as you do about the killer.  I mean, you really have to get inside their heads, know what makes them tick, know what drives them to murder, instead of, say, revenge.

And you'd better know your peripheral characters too, or they will come across as nothing more that caricatures - cartoon images stuck on the wall, instead of three-dimensional beings walking through the story.

We had critique day at my writers group yesterday.  So I took the bit that I've had the most trouble with - the opening chapter.  The problem is that there are so many characters introduced all at once, it's really jumbled.  But I got very good feedback - constructive criticism and pointers on how to make it flow a little better. 

I was in a flat out panic about having someone else read my work, and having all these other writers (some published) hear it... but then I discovered that everyone else was in the same place.  We're all introverts to some extend, all a little anxious and protective of our babies.  But it came out very well overall for all of us. 

I was so jazzed after the meeting that I went home & worked on the story for three hours!  Not a lot of forward motion, but editing and rewrites to make it clearer.  I cut probably 500 words, and wrote probably 1000, so net 500 words overall.

And I went to bed... happy.  :-)


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  2. I admire you for writing fiction. I'm sure I couldn't do it, not that I've tried. Some stupid part of me feels like I'm lying when I even try to think of a plot. I just read Game of Thrones - I'm always really late to the party! (Found it for 50 p) I had to adjust pretty quick to the multitude of characters he throws at you in the first few chapters. Some of them end up being only background to the story, but of course you don't know that at first. Good luck on your writing!

  3. Shelley: I considered (v briefly, way back in the beginning) going into journalism. Then I decided that I was rubbish at it & that my "writers voice" was better suited for fiction than for an abbreviated column. As for Game of Thrones - I gave up on it midway through the first book. It's not that I can't follow a convoluted plot line (LOVE John LeCarre), but I found I was not invested in the characters. And like you, I find in my times of stress, I go back to tried & true YA fiction. Have you ever read any of Rumer Godden's books? Award winning in their day. She had a huge impact on my future tastes in story-telling.

  4. I never considered journalism in my youth. I can't say I enjoyed having to talk to the media when I was working. However (sad person that I am) I nearly always enjoyed writing my reports for work. And I'm a fair email correspondent, but I put that down to being able to type quickly. Haven't ever heard of Rumer Godden, will have to check her out!