I am so pleased to have been invited to join Heidi’s writers group here in Dubai! Yup, a novel length submission group which is novel for me – other groups I have attended critiqued short lengths of writing – 2000 to 4000 words from as many as six or seven people. Some were short stories or parts of novels, some were bits of writing on their way to being a short story or novel.
In this new one, we read a complete novel, just one, from one author until we are done – albeit 10-15 chapters at a time, critiquing each section each week.
After two meetings, I can say I do like this new protocol.
- As I follow along the story, it’s easier to pick out plot holes/ flaws when I have the whole book. When critiquing pieces from six or seven authors in short bursts, you get a short peek into the plot and if you get to read more, it’s usually months later.
- I am invested in the story, the characters, the world of the novel. As I go deeper, I can watch the characters change as each new plot twist unfolds. Love it!
- I can keep track of continuity. I notice if the car the antagonist drives changes color suddenly, if mannerisms are out of character from earlier chapters, and since these things are important to me, I assume they are important to the other writers.
- I can also I pick out repetitious descriptors and descriptions, something that can break the spell of the book faster than a misspelled word.
- And it’s fun to find out that what I thought was a flaw in the narration is really a plot twist I never saw coming in the next chapter.
So, yes, I like this “Novel” group.
Disadvantages? If you don’t like the genre, it can be hard going – but less than I thought.
This novel I’m reading now is set in a dystopian world of monks and soldiers, very cerebral, chock full of meditation and mind games. I’m more of an action/dialog kind of gal. But when the author asked if I found it hard to read, I was pleased to say, “I read the first 30 pages out of respect, but after that I was hooked.” Good writing always wills out.