Hi World! Today was connection day. I’ve been twiddling accounts, jumping from one connection to the next, and grasping for toggle buttons to launch my WordPress blog, Blogger Blog, Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter accounts like some kind of planet hopping, Western space-jockey! All of it to reach my readers, fellow writers, and authors out there in the ‘verse (Oh, so you recognized the Firefly reference!), and broadcast the goodtimes around in spite of Alliance interference and Reapers (read viruses) obscuring the way. Done the Impossible!
A friend of mine, Nishi Serrano, a featured Horror author in the Hellfire Book of Beltane Anthology (yes, that is a shameless plug for her frightening tale “Old Looshi” in that Anthology) on occasion puts up an excerpt of her work in progress or a segment of already published material in her Blog. When I asked her if I should do this, too, her answer was a resounding, “NO!”
She explained that the segment she crafted utilized a character for whom she already had copyright protections in place or she wouldn’t have done it.
Putting up segments of your own already copyrighted work, is fine, as long as the publishing house you are with, you and your agent all agree on what limitations, if any should apply.
Use caution with your work, and make sure that if you put it on a public site that you own the copyright for your characters. But be aware ,too, that some publishing houses won’t touch work that already has a copyright, including those published on a Blog or Facebook, Twitter, etc., by their own Authors. The legalities and risks are changing somewhat with e-publishing business coming rapidly to the fore, but again, use caution and do a bit of research to protect your writing and your interest of same, to do otherwise could be a scary experience fit for a horror novel!
If someone asks for a critique, or for you to go over their writing, should you? Would you be kind or let ‘er rip and tell them what’s not working for you? On the receiving end, how do you handle being Critiqued? Today, I read a manuscript from an acquaintance, then related what I felt worked and what didn’t. Instantly I became public enemy #1.
In nicer words than those here, I pointed out a lack of tension causing the story to flag and my interest to wane. I tried for constructive criticism— because I want very much for my fellow writers to keep working at it and not give up– applauded parts that flowed to the concept of the tale; but mentioned disconnects between actions of the characters and the reader trying to comprehend the flow of the story. The key here is, what I took in was what the writer conveyed in their manuscript.
The writer decided I am too much of a novice to critique them and could not see the picture they conveyed. Au contraire; I was picturing Giovanni Ribisi, one of my favorite actors, in the Protagonist role, and I tried to see scenes in full realization as they stuttered past in my mind, Giovanni looking for direction. I presented a few suggestions that might improve the MS, but the writer rejected any alterations, fearing tidier segues would change it too much; if they introduced more feeling of the place, tried to build a bit more on the characters, then it wouldn’t be their story anymore. Topping off the list of backpedaling the writer expressed they shouldn’t have to personally explain each scene for a reader to get it.
On the last gripe I agree. The writing itself should speak to me. Setting, conflict and resolution should convey to me, the Reader, what is happening in the story. Tension should keep me wanting to turn the pages to find out what happens next, and each scene should ease into the next instead of me flipping back and forth to find a connection; bringing to mind Giovanni: all apologetic, his character says, “I’m sorry, but can you point me to the nearest segue?”
I have come to the conclusion that some folks don’t really want a critique. They want you to read their work and tell them it has points so well-formed they stab you in the eye while perusing the brilliance of their DARLING bit of fluff, and now you must wear an eye patch and become a pirate, you are so blown by the wave of their stature.
Give me an effing break. Better still, don’t ask for a critique if you can’t take the heat.
Here is my take on how to handle a Beta Reader‘s POV: Welcome the harsher voices, the gulls of Criticism if you will; their opinion is as valuable, perhaps more so, than the sweet voiced variety of Critique.
The best Authors and Writers, or at least my favorites, are happy to have people read and share their thoughts of the characters and settings and how these work with each scene. Equally, they welcome the point where you fell asleep reading their tale. This is because they want to kill that bit of needless fluff to make it read better, and take their writing to the next level. They crave, I crave (!) to know what interferes with the flow of the story, where the bogs are that suck away the action, when it is too candy coated and needs added complexity, or where the story has too much description and wants a good conversation between the prime characters, or even the comic relief to ease darkness, just a little, see? A good Critique gives you possibilities.
The best thing about encouraging your friends and acquaintances to read your work, to critique it, is that they are your first audience! *applauds beloved Beta Readers* If you pay attention, really take their constructive criticisms to heart, you will discover that their eyes are invaluable, because they are not in your head. They are Joe Reader. If they get it, chances are your future audience will, too. If they are struggling to wrap their heads around a passage, perhaps you should revisit and make that concept clearer.
It is human nature to balk at criticism, but if we unplug from our initial negative reaction, we open ourselves to the Reader, gleaning that pearl of wisdom that makes our story have luster. So, leap into that boiling cauldron with a smile. Find some Readers to critique your work, then tell them to please, turn up the heat, you can take it. Your work will be better for it, and your naysayers will at the very least respect you for being able to swim in the deep end of the pool of magma.
Well folks, my manuscript calls…a great friend of mine red-inked the heck out of it…for which I thank her! I’ll take the advice and change what needs tending, toss the rest…that, too is valuable. 🙂
See You Around,
This weeks Blog is dedicated to Tunny, who gave me props for focusing more on the Writing of my manuscript and less on my Blog. So, it is a little ironic that I’m here blabbing to all the world about it, but it got me thinking about all the ways in which I procrastinate about hitting the keys.
If you are like me, it’s really hard to make yourself write more and visit with folks less. There always seems to be one more person you can share with, one more funny email you can respond to, eight more things you could Blog about, someone who needs an answer to a text message, etc., right?
However, all the texting, visiting or emailing with any of those wonderful people are sucking up time you could be spending on your manuscript. You wanna get those idea down on the page? You need to detach a little from your electronic umbilical cords, and tell everyone to sit tight, you’ll get back to them after you’ve written the next chapter.
Now that I know I can begin a story, craft a middle, and have a notion of an end, from where I’m at now, the point is to COMPLETE my manuscript . Completing my manuscript needed to become, and has become more important to me than socializing.
If I spend a majority of time Blogging, my manuscript writing time suffers for it, period. But, because it is my Blog about my writing, it’s okay to take a break now and then and Blog for a little while. Did y’all catch that, NOW & THEN .
I am Blogging now because I took a bit of Writer’s Break. I was on a writing roll for the last several hours, body starting to grow sore and stiff, and my eyes feeling a bit dizzy. Good time for a break and a cuppa Joe. So, I decided to check my email and I noticed a comment on my Blog. This being my break, I allowed myself to follow it, and here’s why:
I’ve a new rule about breaks: During a Writer’s Break, all socialization and attachment to the electronic umbilical cords must be solely to people who are Authors or Writers.
I know that other Writer’s understand the need to be mostly absent from the world so you can write, and you don’t expect me to Blog or contact you every day. You expect me to have my nose to the proverbial grindstone, churning out the pages and mixing my metaphors. I expect the same of you…except the part about hashing up the metaphors.
One of my favorite Authors, Seanan McGuire said, “Writing a book is a solitary exercise, actually finishing it is not.”
She is referring to all the people who helped her in getting her manuscript through all of the stages of proofing and the many people it took to read and reread and hack out the stuff that she couldn’t see through to edit out herself, along with those who hosted her when she was writing abroad, and folks who simply listened to her whine. Notice that even on the home stretch there is still a lot of writing to do? I highly recommend McGuire’s Blog 50 Thoughts on Writing for her best Writing tips. Check it out.
So, our writing Blogs are important for us as Writers aspiring to be Authors. They are a place where we can get writing advice when we are crumpling up the 20th false start. They are a safe venue for venting our frustrations and cheering ourselves and each other on when the going gets tough and the tough want to quit and take an aspirin and a shot of whiskey, or to offer the same to another Writer in need.
All of this until the day we become an Author. That’s when our Blogs become part promotion and part lesson, where we answer questions about how we got there to our fans, and why we didn’t off ourselves instead to our worst critics.
Right. Time to get back to my manuscript, folks. Thanks to you all for reading this Blog, and may you get right back to your manuscripts; my coffee is finished and this Writer’s Break is over!
What? Are you still here? We’ve got work to do! Ciao, C.K. Garner 😀
I’m afraid I owe you an apology. I have been neglecting you lately, I know. Like a houseplant or a pet you desire interaction, and must have your nutrients and my time to be happy and thrive, and I have been spending my time with a different love.
This may be hard for you to hear, but I feel I must say it, just get these guilty feelings out so I can clear the air! So, yes, I have been neglecting you in order to spend quality time with my manuscript. She’s so creative and beautiful, and I find that the more time I spend with her the better she gets, and the more rounded a writer I become.
So, I just want to say that our relationship has to be whittled down to, I hope, a mutual friendship. I just need a little space to work on my relationship with my manuscript and see where that will take me…Us.
Just remember, you can rely on me still, as a friend, a shoulder to cry on, whatever you need. I promise to visit periodically, but I don’t feel it is fair to you to stay in a close relationship…for now.
It’s not you, it’s me.
I’ll be seeing you around.
Who wasn’t afraid
Or to play
Who kept Independent
To the very last day
Always the first mouth to smile
Or travel the miles
A friend where’er she stayed
The Last of the Old Country
Who spoke the language
Blessing our homes
In the arms of the Holy
Now in Grace of Heaven
In your footsteps I stumble
But try anyway
For I’ll keep you within me
Say your name every day
Rest in Peace. I love you. C.K Garner
Do you start your story with all of your characters already written out? Do you know how they will act, what they might say?
I am a person who sucks at dialogue; but now, because I’m dabbling in character creation, I feel like I’m learning, or they are teaching me… it is as if the characters, once created are speaking for themselves, each with a distinct voice to suit his actions.
The fun part of writing is pushing the situations just little bit, or a whole shove from the norm, at the same time as trying to keep it real. The characters can help you along, or you can create a character grid, and make sure to follow closely. What might a character do? How far should you push them?
For Example, if I think a character is vain, I really get silly with that vanity, i.e., I try to take it way beyond what a normal person might do. I’ll have them missing conversation, irritating people, and losing weight because they are so engaged in their reflection in the dinner plates they forget to eat! If a person is clumsy, I have them tripping all over the place.
Are they an evildoer? They are going to take a shot at your baby sister’s baby bunnies, drag the key down the side of someone’s car, blow up pigeons for fun and chuckles, and generally wreak havoc.
Same goes for nice. Made of sugar, but sometimes spice is the answer there. As for the middling ones, it helps to shove them over either edge to see how they will handle the drop. Sometimes a character will grow if you push them, this is especially true if you shove each into the other! The characters will tell you what they will and won’t do along the way once you start getting them down on the page.
I like to take them to extremes because it makes the story better, even if I tone them down later. It’s just fun to have a character go beyond the bounds of what is the accepted “norm”. The lengths to which you can manipulate your characters into a twisted tale are endless, and even impossibilities are, well, possible if you decide they are real enough to write them down!
For the rest of the month I’ll be catching up on all of the possible goofs I have missed in adding the new characters. I want a seamless blending where I have added them in, which means line by line editing. I take the time when doing this to catch dropped punctuation, spelling errors, grammatical no-no’s, etc..
It is also a good time to check and see that your characters are showing, speaking, and acting it out rather than you telling the story.
Believe me, no matter how many times I go over it, I catch a couple more errors, and kill them off, hiding the evidence, so that by the time I get to the end, I will be ready for the next batch of revisions from Friends, Beta Readers, Agents and Editors.
I recommend you try adding a couple of characters and see what happens with your story. I’ll bet it grows in ways you didn’t expect. Have fun playing in your world, the company is great!