Critiquing For Other Writers

Editing is hard. It’s even harder when you don’t know how to edit or what to look for when editing.

It’s especially even harder still when you’re editing someone else’s work. And when you believe that someone is a better writer than you? Well, how can you edit their work confidently?

Critiquing For Other Writers

I’ve talked about editing all month long with various tips and tricks and advice on editing. This post isn’t going to be like that. Instead, it’s going to be more like a “pep talk,” if you will.

Yesterday I talked about why I think it’s important for writers to be part of some sort of writing or critique group. I’ve had my group for over two years now. People have come and gone in the group, but it’s still going strong and I hope to have my group for many, many years.

Yet, each month I take a look at all the chapters I have to read through. I typically read the work as a reader and then I go back and read it again as a writer. It helps me get a feel for the chapter. It also helps me focus on editing rather than just reading.

This is because I believe all my group members are better writers than me.

This could be for a number of reasons:

  • As a writer, I naturally suffer from self-doubt so I believe everyone is a better writer than me
  • I’m the youngest, so in terms of “experience” in writing, everyone has more than me
  • They may actually be better writers than me

I like to think that no writer is better than another since we all have our own writing styles and people are going to either love, like, hate, or think your writing is just okay. Everyone has different tastes.

Still, when you’re in a group with other writers, you can’t help but think they’re all better than you.

When I read their work, I read through it a few times. I find myself getting immersed in the story, getting wrapped up in the plot and characters. Before I know it, the chapter has ended, I’m eager to read more, yet I haven’t made a single mark on the page.

How can I edit something that’s so good? How can I make corrections when there are none?

Typically, there are mistakes. There are parts of the chapters that could use some help. But I have a hard time seeing them.

It isn’t until we actually meet that the host asks, “What could be improved with this chapter?” I typically wait for someone else to speak first and bounce off from what they say. I wait for someone to say, “I didn’t like this,” and then I can think about myself. Sometimes I agree, but sometimes I can disagree and form my own opinion as to why.

But why can’t I look at it that way when I’m reading the story myself?

I don’t know.

Editing is a learning curve and I definitely find it harder to critique someone else than your own work. Still, you live and learn.

With each new piece I get, I think back to the previous meeting and look for what we discussed they could improve on and see if they did improve on the next one. I’m slowly figuring it out.

It’s hard to look past the feeling that all the other writers in the room are “better” than you. You just have to remember you’re all there to learn. Everyone has their own writing style and unique voice. You’re all writing different stories and possibly different genres. Someone may have been writing longer than you have, but you’re all in the same boat.

Have you ever got the feeling that everyone else is a better writer than you? How do you deal with it? Let me know in the comments below!

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Writing Weekend

Friday: I didn’t do much. I’ve had a head cold for the past week so after work on Friday I didn’t do much of anything. I had the opportunity to go to the movies, but when you have an off-and-on headache that doesn’t want to quit, a dark, loud movie theater is the last place you want to be. Instead, I took a bath and started reading a new book.

Saturday: I felt much better, but still under the weather. I managed to get a few things done, though. I started editing the first part of Detective Florence‘s second draft. The edit was due on Sunday for my writer’s group. Of course I left it until the last minute. It was in my mind all month, but the 15th of the month always seems so far away until it’s staring you right in the face.

I also continued to read the book I started on Friday. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would, yet I couldn’t put it down at the same time. Go figure.

Sunday: I skipped church due to my cold. It was nice to have an extra day to stay home and do nothing. I finished typing up the edited second draft of Detective Florence and sent it off to my writer’s group. Then I spent the majority of the rest of the day reading that book.

Kris is house/pet sitting this week for our neighbors so I went over to their house for a couple of hours last night just to hang out. A new episode of Once Upon A Time was on, so we watched it in their gorgeous living room.

On a side note, I finished reading that book this morning. I’m going to give it a review once I finish reading the trilogy and do all three books at once. Given the ending of the first book, I think that would be a better way to do it. I have a love/hate relationship with that book, so I have no idea how the rest of the series is going to go.

This Week: I plan on starting my outline for Camp NaNo next month. It’s something I should have already started, but of course I didn’t. It’s spring break this week for school, so at least I won’t have any homework to do.

I also plan on getting some of my April posts done so I can focus more on NaNo next month.

In addition to that, I need to continue writing and editing Detective Florence 2 as well as read and edit the stories my writer’s group submitted. There’s only four, so I think it will give me a chance to really take my time with each one.

How was your weekend?

Trivia Night!

Friday: Friday was a long, but good, day. I had work in the morning and then later on that night I went to a Trivia Night with everyone from work. There was a fundraiser going on for the town I work in. There were teachers from most of the town’s schools, parents, and general residents of the town. Let me tell you… the place was packed. The Trivia Night was at a venue walking distance from my house and I’ve been there a few times before. I have never in my life seen the place so full of people.

It was ten rounds of trivia, but at the end of round four only the top 50% kept playing. Needless to say, we stopped after round four. My work had three tables called Material Girls, Uptown Girls, and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (we were dressed up as the 80s). Material Girls came in dead last, Uptown Girls (the table I sat at) came in second to last, and GJWHF came in fourth to last. The main point is that we had fun and that’s all that matters!

I got three questions right and two of them were book questions, so I was proud of myself for that. If there was a trivia night dedicated to books and authors, I would so do that! That would be so much fun.

Saturday: I was down for the count. I stayed up late Friday night because of the trivia night and I was exhausted all day Saturday. I didn’t really do anything too exciting–I cleaned up a bit, went food shopping, and printed out the second draft of Detective Florence.

I have to edit the first chapter of that by March 15 for my local writer’s group, which will meet the last Saturday of March. You never really think how quickly the 15th of the month comes up until it’s the 8th and you realized you only have about a week left to get it done… oops.

Sunday: I went to church and we talked about helping people, being nice to people, and what it means to be happy. It was a good lesson, if I do say so myself.

Kris and I started playing a new video game and we wrote for a little bit. I tried to organize some of my writing things and I worked on this week’s blog posts. So… hopefully those will be good.

This Week: I hope to get my homework done as soon as possible for this week. The following week is Spring Break so I want to have as much time off from school as I can get to focus on writing for the time being.

I also have to edit the second draft’s first chapter of Detective Florence by March 15 to pass it into my local writer’s group. In addition to that, I hope to get some outlining done for my Camp NaNo project.

Those are my two biggest writing goals at the moment. If I can get more done, then I definitely will.

How was your weekend?

Writers Workshop

It’s been an extra long weekend for me. Yesterday (Monday) and today were two more snow days for me. We had another big snowstorm all day yesterday. We may be getting another one Thursday and then yet another one Sunday into Monday… more snow days? We’ll see.

As you can see, my fence is completely buried.
As you can see, my fence is completely buried. Where we’ll put the upcoming snow, I have no idea…

Friday I didn’t do too much. I went to work and finished my homework for the week. It was exciting. Sunday I had church and it was the Superbowl. I’m sure most (if not all) of you watched it. I did not. I know who we were rooting for and I knew who won and that’s about it. I don’t watch it because I don’t understand it, but I heard it was a good game.

Saturday was a fun day for Kris and I. Our dad found an event at our local library called “Writers Workshop.” He thought we would like it, so he told us about it and we went.

Remember a few weeks ago I posted Writers Group Wanted? Well, completely by accident my father found one for me. We all get together, swap manuscripts, give each other feedback, etc.

I know I said I wanted an online one, but you take what you can get, right? Plus, all the people seem really nice. There was about 20 of us there; it was a big turnout. So, the guy who’s running it decided to split it into two groups. Kris and I are going to be in the Saturday group because Wednesday nights are school nights for me and I’m in my pajamas at the time they’ll be meeting.

So, we’ll swap our pieces through e-mail by the 15th of every month and then we’ll critique each other. We’re going to meet the fourth Saturday of every month and discuss our work and critiques. It’ll be a good experience.

With that being said, I still may or may not try to do something on the Internet for me and my WordPress friends (yes, you). As I mentioned in the post above, I was thinking of starting one myself online. I still haven’t decided, but it’s still a thought.

Yesterday and today, as mentioned, are snow days so I plan on doing nothing. Maybe get some homework done, do some writing… but nothing major. I have to take these days while I can.

How was your weekend?

Writers Group Wanted

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

For a long time now I have been wanting to join a writers group. You know, have other writers read and critique my work and I’ll read and critique their work in return.

I found a site called Critique Circle a while ago and it was great. I posted a short story on there and the people who gave me feedback were helpful and informative. However, the thrill of the site ended fairly quickly for me.

I wanted feedback on my stories and the way to do that was to earn credits. You need to earn credits by critiquing others. That’s fine; especially since you don’t want people on there posting story after story and never giving back to anyone else. It makes sense and I agree with that.

The thing is, it can be a long process. Some people are obviously more helpful than others and your story is only posted there for a week. Sometimes people don’t start critiquing it until there’s only one day left for it to be critiqued. In which case, you don’t get a good amount of people looking at your story.

I found another website (the name escapes me at the moment), but I didn’t even bother signing up. You need to pay. Um, no.

So, this is why I’m coming to you all of you guys out there:

–I want to join a writing group to meet other writers like myself
–I would like it to be online (due to my work/school schedule) where we can swap manuscripts and give them back to each other in a certain period of time
–It would be nice to have a small group of five or so people so we can all get to know each other and each other’s writing styles… but it would also be nice to have a large community to get other people’s opinions as well if needed

I know it seems like a lot to ask for and I probably sound extremely picky. I don’t know if any writing groups out there exist like that. I thought I would ask because Google hasn’t been helping on that front.

I’m also asking because, as stated, I’ve been wanting this for a while and my professor for my creative writing class last semester tried to get us to start one. I tried offering different ways we could set a group up, different websites we could use, etc. Three people replied saying, “Sounds good to me” or “Let me know the details and I’ll join.”

In other words, they didn’t seem enthusiastic about it. If they’re not enthusiastic about it, then how can I trust them to be committed and give me structured critique on my work?

So, if anyone knows any good writing group sites or would be willing to even start one up with me, that’d be awesome.

Thanks for the help in advance!

Getting Back Into Habit

I Actually Wrote Today…

 

Well, I did it. I meant to do it all day today, but I got a good hour in. Since I had nothing to do today I thought I thought was going to focus on writing all day, but I just didn’t really feel like it…at all. So it’s six o’clock in the evening right now and I wrote for the past hour. It’ s better than nothing, right?

I didn’t feel like writing anything, but I forced myself to do it anymore. I need to get back into the habit of writing for at least an hour every day. Even though I wasn’t very into it, I think I whipped out a pretty good chapter, if I do say so myself. I am now on chapter six, but I’m not going to start it now.

This last chapter we learned a little more about Adair. Apparently she went to college for engineering and quit when she had two classes left. Dominic couldn’t believe she wasted all that time and money and Justin couldn’t believe that she got good grades in such a tough field. They’re such supporting friends, aren’t they?

Anyway, they didn’t get anything done writing-wise in that chapter. My characters are starting to take after me and that’s not really something to be proud of…

Well, I have school until two tomorrow and then work at 2:30 until somewhere between five and six. Tomorrow night I’m going to have to try to find some time to write for an hour because I know that I’m going to be pretty tired. Although, it is supposed to snow pretty heavy tonight…I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a snow day for the first day of school. 😉

 

2013: 15,139Words Written
2013: 825 Pages Read

Not Productive

Today Was A Bust…

 

Today my sister and I went to Barnes and Noble. We went about our normal routine; we went to Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast, Starbucks for drinks, and Barnes and Noble to write. However, we weren’t there for any more than an hour when my dad called. We switched from Verizon to Comcast today and with Comet and Chip at home, he didn’t want to shut them in the bedroom and listen to them bark all afternoon. My sister and I ended up going home and taking the dogs to Nanny’s house where we stayed for about an hour and a half. They have no wi-fi, either so we couldn’t work on our writing at all.

By then, the guy was still at our house, but I had to go to work. So we went back to my house, leaving the dogs, I grabbed my things and went to work. When I got home from work, I had to re-connect the internet and now my laptop is being extremely slow. I assume it’s just trying to get used to the new connection, or I’m hoping so anyway. However, I am in no mood to write now.

While we were at Barnes and Noble, I did write a tiny bit, but it was under 1,000 words. And I never wrote yesterday, so I feel like I’m a bit behind. And because of that, I’m beginning to get annoyed at my writing. I have three novels completed and never bothered to edit any of them.

Well, that’s not true. I’m on the seventh draft of Diary of a Lover, but I never once edited Hunter, which I finished back in August of 2011. Saving Each Other I just finished less than a month ago, so I’m not going to get back into that just yet…I’m kind of sick of those characters.

However, I do have three children’s books that are completed, edited and all, but I don’t bother trying to get them published. Why? I don’t know. That’s what I think I’m going to do when I finish this post. I think I’m going to try searching for publishers and such. At least if I get those three children’s books out there, I would get my foot in the door for whenever I publish a novel, the extra money would be a plus, and maybe it would motivate me a little more to get something else out there.

I asked my sister to edit Hunter the other day. She hasn’t started, yet, but I’m hoping that once she edits it, it will motivate me to edit it and keep at it. Honestly, I wrote that so long ago I don’t even remember what happens in the book. It’s quite sad.

I told myself that, because I’m so into The Blank Page right now, I’m going to finish it. Then once I finish it, I’m going to work strictly on editing for a little while. I know my new year’s resolution was to write more, but editing is a big part of writing, even if I’m not adding word after word after word. It’ll suck because I absolutely hate editing, but if it needs to get done, then I’m going to get it done.

I’m not going to write anymore tonight because I am just not in the mood and I know if I force myself, I’m going to mess up the entire novel. Hopefully, I’ll get back into it tomorrow morning. I had a good routine going: I woke up early every morning, worked on my websites for a bit, wrote for an hour, and then posted on here. I have not done that since Tuesday…but Tuesday I had no school and no work and nothing to do, so I kind of wanted to take advantage of the fact that I could have stayed in bed for the entire day. With all the crap I have been doing lately, no one can blame me for that.

On a good note, I did start my resolution about reading more. Does everyone know the series Warriors by Erin Hunter? Well, there are so many books that I have lost count, but I do have most of them. I have read a few, but I decided to re-read them…especially because one of my RPG websites are based after this series. Last year, I read the first five books, so I decided to start reading them again starting with the sixth book. If I didn’t have work or anything else going on in my life right now, I would have finished it the day I started it. But we’ll take baby steps.

I’ll talk to you all tomorrow…hopefully after I write for an hour. I have work at 1:30 tomorrow, so if I get up early enough maybe I can do a little extra. That would be nice!

 

2013: 13,645 Words Written
2013: 183 Pages Read

“The Blank Page” Characters

Adair’s A Freak, Justin Lives Under A Rock, And Dominic Is Actually Normal…

 

Can we talk about my characters for a minute? I wrote half of chapter four today and I quickly realized how…interesting (for lack of a better word) my characters are.

In chapter four, Adair bothers the two boys to read a little of their stories to each other so they can see what each other has so far. I have quickly realized that all of chapter four they’re just going to be talking about Adair’s novel. Each chapter is their next meeting, which is only an hour and a half long. With the conversation they’re having about Adair’s novel, there is no way they’re going to be able to talk about all three novels in an hour and a half. Especially since when they started talking about her novel, they already only had an hour left.

In my last post I mentioned that I might plan our their novels a little bit. Well, I forgot to do that and I remembered when I was crawling into bed. So needless to say, I never planned out their books. As I wrote chapter four, I made everything up as I went along. I had Adair read her opening sentence and ask the boys what they thought about it. Well, I can tell you what I thought about it…it was crap. I read it over and over and over again and I said to myself, “Adair is completely weird.” I wondered what goes on in her mind and then I realized…Adair is me. I’m the one who wrote that sentence for her.

Justin rewrote the sentence for her, which came out a lot better, but Adair was pissed because her sentence was 41 words long and Justin’s re-write was 24 words. Then Justin was appalled because he can’t believe her biggest concern is the word count. And Dominic is just sitting there, along for the ride because he doesn’t want to get involved because he’s smart and normal.

But then Dominic and Justin both grilled her about this novel because it is the strangest thing ever. This is what we found out about the novel: Cerridwen is the main female, Zindel is the main male, the novel is in Zindel’s POV, they live in a forest, the plot of the novel is that the forest is in trouble and Cerridwen and Zindel need to save it, Victor is the bad guy, Cerridwen has the power of earth because she apparently is not human and evolved from a plant…which is why she has vines attached to her hair, and Zindel has a power, but we don’t know what it is, yet. Completely strange/ridiculous/I don’t even know what to call it, right? So Dominic and Justin are trying to make sense of this whole novel and are hoping that she changes it drastically. I’m just sad because my mind was capable of coming up with something like this.

Then throughout the whole chapter, Justin is freaking out about the names. I had Adair use obscure names because that’s just something she would do. But Dominic keeps pronouncing them wrong and Justin is just angry because Adair has names like that when she made fun of him for naming his main character John. Plus, Justin is wondering why the bad guy, Victor, has a normal name. On a random note: Justin lives under a rock. So far throughout the novel, Adair has mentioned Mario and Princess Peach, Link and Zelda, and The Sims games. He had no idea what she was talking about for all of them. He is a 27-years-old man and has never played video games…there is something wrong with that picture.

And the chapter isn’t even over, yet…

So, like I said…interesting characters, right? There certainly is never a dull moment with these guys. I have to give them some credit though because they really are fun to write.

 

2013: 13,193 Words

Relaxation

I Got Nothing Done Today…

 

Well, I have been on a roll writing for at least one hour every day. However, I didn’t write at all today. But I did say that I was going to try to post on here every day, so here I am. I have no news, but I am posting!

The reason as to why I didn’t write today was because I was busy with my websites. For example, Stars Vs. Gems, Gaia Ranch, and Spilled Ink. Spilled Ink is a writing website that my sister and I are working on together. We already have one up right now, but we completely re-did the whole website. So that’s why I didn’t give you the link because it’s not open yet. However, we  are planning on opening it on Columbus Day…maybe sooner. I’ll explain more about the website when it opens.

Once I finished working on our websites for the day, I thought about getting some writing done, but when I looked at the time I realized that I wasn’t going to have enough time. Although, now that I think about it, I could have written a little bit. Getting a little something done is better than nothing. But oh, well. What’s done is done.

I had a very busy day today because of church. Everyone knows that I’m the co-director of the Sunday school, correct? Well, today the Bishop came for a visit. Plus the Sunday school were performing something in the middle of the service. Also, we had a luncheon for the ladies who run the Thrift Shop to say thank you for everything they do for the church. Usually, I’m at church from 9:30 to 12:00. Today, because of the Bishop’s schedule, the service was 2 to 3. But because of the thing the Sunday School did in the service, we needed to practice it. So we told everyone to come at one, which meant that I was there before one. Then after the service, we had the luncheon and, well…I was at church today from 12:45 to 6:00. It wasn’t a bad time, but I just didn’t want to be there for that amount of time as well as it being smack in the middle of the day.

Anyway, when I got home, I was starving (there wasn’t any food I liked at the luncheon) so my sister and I got Panera and we’ve been watching TV ever since. I’ve been too tired to do anything else. Although, I think I might go plan out the novel a little bit.

The Blank Page has three novels in it and I thought that I should plan those out. Not fully, but just enough so that when I have my characters writing them, they all make sense. So I may do that, but as far as actual writing goes…I’m not going to be boosting my word count tonight.

Speaking of planning out the novels, though, I found this really cool app on my iPod. It’s called “A Novel Idea.” It breaks everything down. You can click on “novels” and will ask you the title, setting, theme, tone, POV, premise, plot, and group. The group is something you make up. You can group certain things together. For example, when I plugged in The Blank Page, I put it under the Writers Group group. The other sections are “scenes,” “characters,” “locations,” and “ideas.” It’s very detailed and organized. I added The Blank Page as a novel and added Dominic, Justin, and Adair as characters. Then it allowed me to attach the novel to each character. It also allowed me to give Dominic, Adair, and Justin relations to each other. It really keeps you organized. I think I may use this to plan out the three novels that aren’t real. Then I might know enough information about them so Dominic, Justin, and Adair can write them efficiently in The Blank Page.

If you like to write and have an iPod, iPhone, iPad, or anything along those lines, then you should download this app. It’s really useful and it was free. I highly recommend it.

2013: 11,010 Words

Three Down

Three Chapters Done…

 

I’m still writing The Blank Page. I don’t know how many chapters this novel is going to be. I’m on chapter four, I haven’t started it, though. I do think that for chapter four I’m going to have them all read what they have so far. Not all of it, of course. But it should be an interesting chapter. Justin hates everything that Adair does, Adair critiques and does everything and anything to bother Justin, and poor Dominic is there just wanting some real feedback on what he has so far.

It’ll be in a tough chapter to write because I know what Dominic’s plot is, but I haven’t even thought once about Adair’s novel or Justin’s novel. This chapter is going to be a long haul, but that’s part of the reason as to why I’m planning this chapter to be like this. If I’m going to write about three people writing three different novels, I need to know what each novel is about and how each novel is going to turn out. I’m sure whoever reads this series would like to know, as well.

In the last post I mentioned how I was thinking about writing their novels. Well, I think more on it now and I realize that if I wrote those three novels right now, it would certainly help me write The Blank Page and the rest of the series. I will already know the plot, the characters, the beginning, the middle, and the end. But, I’ll wing it for now. That is what editing is for, right?

So I set my timer for an hour once more and again I stopped before the timer went off. I stopped because I finished chapter three and I wasn’t really looking forward to writing a little of chapter four for three minutes and stopping right in the middle of it. Of course, I could have written more, but I wrote a lot today. I made it to 11,010 words. If I wrote another 281 words, then I would have broken my word count for day seven. This fake NaNo thing is really working out for me. It’s too bad that the real NaNo didn’t work out for me. But then again, I got pretty far in that novel and I did finish it in December, so I guess I can’t really complain.

That’s all for today. I may write a little bit more today, but I do doubt it. I have a few other things that I need to get done and I just have to say thank God it’s the weekend. I don’t have work today, which is a plus because that means I don’t have anywhere important to be later.

See you tomorrow! 🙂

 

2013: 11,010 Words