FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the
Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride. ~ Dawn
I’ve been writing for many years, revising for about half those. The critiques –and subsequent improvement in my own writing — didn’t happen soon enough.
I took part in several critique groups on my favorite website (www.fmwriters.com), and picked up bits and pieces from writers of various levels of ability. I put those tidbits to use and start revising smarter. In addition, I read some books and started reading about how to fix all those things my critiquers mentioned seemed off/excessive use of/not even use of. Yes, there’s a lot they said. I mentioned some of the same for other writers as well, but most of it was either really obvious to me, or a repeat of what I was doing wrong myself.
I also joined OWW (www.onlinewritingworkshop.com) where, since I was now paying for the service and privilege of critiquing, I took it much more seriously. I started critiquing stories that were way above my level. I also had my writing
critiqued by people beyond my own ability. I learned more that first year than
I thought possible. I learned revising a story once wasn’t enough, and revising
it ten times was too much. Each revision had to count: no fly-by revisions
Between the two sites, I’ve received 76 critiques on my work and given 122 critiques (including 2 novels) for other writers. I’ve learned to analyze a story for critical elements and how to see the shining light in poorly written story. I’ve seen in stories what I don’t want to repeat in mine, grammar issues as well as plotting/character issues. It wasn’t until I involved myself in the exchange of critiques that I gained the confidence to make my manuscripts bleed. I’m vicious on my own writing. I tear my stories apart, line by line.
It wasn’t until I revised like a maniac that I started submitting. As a result,
I’ve had one short story published, placed three times in the Writers of the
Future contest (once as a semi-finalist), and am currently short listed for
publication in one lovely zine (I’m still crossing my fingers on that one). The
point is: you need feedback.
All writers need feedback. Some find their first readers and harshest audience in
their spouse or best friend. Some find it in critique groups. The best thing
you can do, is find someone who a) will be brutally honest with you and that
you can take it from them, and b) knows what they are talking about.
I have writers I go to for full critiques. I have friends I go to for basic
reader reaction (I’ve referred to them as my First Readers). It’s amazing what
you think you know about your character or world, that these people will point
out. Whether it’s an area they have expertise in, or something they simply
couldn’t believe, it’s important.
My current revision method involves giving the first draft a decent revision then
I send it out to the first readers. One or two people usually get back within a
week or so and let me know what stood out. If I agree, I fix it, give it a
major polish, and submit it to one of my critique groups. After their feedback,
I revise what I agree with. If by chance it was a difficult revision or several
elements were rewritten, I’d send it back to someone for more feedback.
Otherwise, it’s a major polish and I submit the story.
I am grateful to anyone who has offered feedback, and here I offer you my
heartfelt thanks. I know some of you have felt bad reporting the issues, but
you shouldn’t. You’ve helped me grow as a writer. Even Stephen King and Dean
Koontz had their support. I need it, too. And if you’re a writer, so do you.
It’s why so many writers apply to workshops like Viable Paradise and Clarion and Odyssey and attend conventions. It’s why places like Muse Online exist (free!) and sites like FMWriters and Absolute Write are sponsored by appreciative writers.
If you’re a writer and don’t have a critique group or your 1st Person,
I challenge you today to go find one. Learn, revise, and submit. And if you’re
not a writer but know one? Ask if they want feedback when they offer to share
their work with you. If they’re new to writing, a gentle hand may be in order,
but NEVER lie.
We need each other, for without the growth of writers, there wouldn’t be enough
stories to read.
Write happy, Read happy.
Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round August topic ‘Revision’. If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas on Cross-Genre Fiction, then check out the Merry-Go-Round
Blog Tour. The next Merry Go Round writer is Bonnie. She’ll be posting her take on this same topic on the 5th for your reading pleasure.