Tough Love

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to make this here blog more than reposted tweets. Here’s a start, the return of the play-by-play of my biweekly crucifixion session that is my critique group.

My current WIP has been a bitch and a half to write. I wrote my last story in two weeks (and it’s gotten one good personalized rejection so far). My trauma with this piece has gone on for over two months! I’ve rewritten the intro about five times, fleshed out characters before removing them completely, and removed scenes I really, really liked.

Finally, there was nothing left to do but bring it to the group last night.

It’s been so long since my last dissection. Let’s see if I remember how to do one of these.

The Good

  • The usual positive comments, the story “intriguing,” the prose “smooth,” and the characters “well drawn out.”
  • One member enjoyed how the main characters, a couple, argued “fairly.”
  • One liked the “ordinary setting” of the story (a grocery store), going with what the group sees as my pattern of stories of ordinary people in extraordinary situations (Note to self: time to break the pattern, maybe?)

The Bad

  • How many drafts of the fucking thing did I write/rewrite and still not catch “two-gallon milk jugs” instead of gallon jugs?
  • Might be too much focus on the wrong details, esp. in some conversations between the main characters.
  • “Cut page 4.” (Similar to John Rogers’ advice that “You Don’t Need pg. 11.”)
  • I sort of (playfully) rip on a particular recording artist and her fans. Only two out of the eight readers in group got it.

The Ugly

  • I’ve got the right POV character, but maybe not the narrative focus on the right character’s actions/plans.
  • The kinda-sorta-maybe fantasy element I’ve got going–I’ve got to be clearer about it either way.

Those last two points are gonna take some fixing. My biggest worry, before I even brought the story to group, was that kinda-sorta-maybe fantasy element, which was really evidence of things I haven’t quite decided on yet.

Can I fix it in two weeks and have an ending by the next group session, so I can keep another New Year’s Resolution of writing one story a month in 2009?

2 thoughts on “Tough Love”

  1. I’m so impressed that you keep reworking your story over and over. I jused to give up after two, but I’ve kinda “seen the light” – writing fiction is not all about inspiration and creative genius, it’s a lot of hard work, and it’s so rewarding whenever you can say: This is it, it’s good, and it’s “done”.

    How did you get in touch with that group?

  2. I’ve finally learned that most “writing” is really re-writing and that it often has far less to do with inspiration and creative genius than with blood, sweat, & tears. 🙂

    I found my group thanks to the wonders of Google :).

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