Writing Group: How do You critique?

What’s your method, sequence, technique, recipe?  Are you a “big picture” kind of gal/guy, or do you share line edits while noting plot holes and info dumps?  Do you work from a list, print it out and use a marker > hand over the copy when you’re done?  Or totally off the cuff, what stuck out for you?  Let me know, and I’ll share!

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The Novel Novel Group

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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.

Advantages:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. I can also I pick out repetitious descriptors and descriptions, something that can break the spell of the book faster than a misspelled word.
  5. 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.

 

 

Sometimes I need to get away – from my writing room

Is it writer’s block, writer’s fatigue, or as a fellow writer confessed at group – writer’s fear?

Good ideas often come to me in the metro, or a taxi, as I wait in line at the bank.  Sooooooo, there are whole blocks of days, I make myself leave the security of my computer desk behind and ride the rails, usually with a book and my Galaxy Note.  Amazing how an inexpensive change of scene can free you from the pressure.

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