Tough Love

Haven’t done the writing group update yet, seeing as I’m supposed to be plugging away at “The one with the mask” (which may actually end up being titled “Masked”). I gave them my 1,000 words, and I got the following back…

The Good

  • I wrote a scene where the protagonist referred to a past hospitalization (the implication being that it was a psych hospitalization), which was seen as a “realistic depiction.” In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve worked in the field, so I know how these things go.
  • People appreciate the humor. Again, it’s shocking. I know I write funny bits in my stories, mostly in the form of character thoughts or dialogue. They’re the ones being funny, not the story itself. But the group seems to really enjoy that aspect when it’s there. I suspect, though, that it maybe has more to do with my reading (we read our pieces out loud to the rest of the group) than the prose itself, but I could be wrong.
  • No one really had any nits to pick about the prose itself. Again, it’s kind of like the tone of my rejection letters: “Great prose, but the story blah blah blah…”

The Bad

  • I was afraid that I’d included some extraneous details in this section, although I didn’t exactly know what would be extraneous until after I’d finished. The group concurred on both counts.
  • I’d inadvertently altered the voice of the protagonist. One person noted that he had a “sweetness” to him in the beginning that disappeared. I wish I could say that I did that on purpose, because there were some darker themes to the section I wrote, but the crit was right. The truth is, there’s a noticeable jump in the protag’s voice between the first 1300 words and the next thousand. And the themes really stay at a certain level of darkness.
  • The same critiquer thought that I was wandering from the main thrust of the story. Again, she was right. Although I think I can fix that with some serious editing.

The Ugly
Again, no real “ugly” to speak of. Heck, one person in the group said she didn’t have any crits to give.

Afterward, we had the usual kaffeeklatch that went pleasantly longer than it typically does. I talked about how I psyched myself out by presenting a portion of the story last time that got such rave reviews that I was freaking out that I had to come up with something that would garner as much praise. Apparently, I’m not the first person this has happened to, which is the reason for the prevailing wisdom that one should only bring finished pieces to a writing group. I’ve always been in 100% agreement. It was just that all I had for last time was the start of “The one with the mask,” so that was what I brought. I guess you can call it my self-imposed consequence of not having something finished within the alotted time.

Deadlines, people–the reason I hooked up with a group to begin with.

2 thoughts on “Tough Love”

  1. It’s a local group that workshops genre writing. Nice bunch of folks who are as equally generous with their praise as they are pointed with their criticisms.

    I’m shy about handing out less-than-finished work to folks. If you were that curious, though, I suppose I could email bits of it…

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