From writer to reader

One the biggest challenges I think most writers face while editing is being able to distance themselves from their own work.

We need to be able to do this, otherwise those trouble spots remain hidden. Some of us do this by letting a passage of time go by when we don’t look at our manuscript. No reads, no re-writes, no sneak peaks. Nothing. While I think this is necessary, is it enough?

Somehow, we need to be able to turn off our writer brain, and become a reader. We need to be able to see our work as if it is the very first time we’re reading and have no expectations.

One of the things I do is I turn on my comments feature. Just this act is like a trigger for me: it means no writing, no deleting, all I’m allowed to do in comment mode is find weaknesses and them point out. I go through the whole manuscript like this is one shot, or in big sections, about 100 pages at a time, depending on the stage I’m at. Then I do it again, this time reading the comments, seeing if I understand them and if I agree with them. Most of the time, I’ll delete a few, add a few. This also gives me a chance to see different ways of fixing these problems.

As it happens, I was reading February’s issue of Writers’s Digest and there was an article on how giving feedback to others really helps tone our own writing (I’m a strong believer of this). It explains how when we read for own pleasure, we naturally skip over things that hold no interest to us, or are boring, or gross, or or or. As writers, we want to eliminate these spots as much as possible from our writing, so we need to notice what we skip over.  This means to only being a reader, but an aware reader. It means reading for work and not for pleasure. Reading with energy and for a purpose.

What about you – any tips on how you go from being a writer to a reader?



now that i have it….

Five, sometimes six different critiques from the members of my group. It’s taken me not one week but two to go back through two submissions from the opening pages of my wip. The most important part of any novel in my opinion. And for me, always the most difficult. Normally the beginning that gets my story going is not the one I think it should be by the time first draft is done. This time however I was quite confident about my opening, until one member of my group suggested re-sequencing! ahhhhh! The problem was that I liked the suggestion, while liking the opening the way it is now!!!! I haven’t moved things around quite yet, I’ll see.

So, I’ve been going through each member’s critique, and I have created a notebook file (something I have never done before!) and have written down each piece of criticism that I agree with. Be it language, paragraphing, word choice, characterization, whatever, you all know the drill. The ones that i am not certain but warrant further contemplation also go into that notebook. Now I have pages of notes, but it’s all in one spot, and what’s been most interesting combining it all in one file is seeing the overlaps. The sentences that jarred 3 or 4 members, the imageries that didn’t work. Once in a while one person will point something out no one else did, see things completely unique to him, and I think wow – what an interpretation!

In the past I implemented the changes after reading the critique from one person, and then moving on to the next. This way works much better for me. It allows for a much stronger interpretation of the feedback. And it gives me time to really make that feedback mine.

I was wondering how you process your feedback that you receive, from any source(s).

The other thing on my mind is this: how often do you re-write your opening? And do you wait until novel is at end stages to re-work it because  you know it can change so much from early to late stages?

Happy writing!

backbends, flips, and more

Feedback, feedback, oh what a wonderful thing!

I’m not talking about receiving, but giving,

In this last week because I’ve been reading and giving feedback to three members of my critique group (we have just resumed after the summer break).

I love commenting on the work of others, I find it so calming after editing my own stuff. There is no attachment to it, no prior knowledge, everything I wish to be able to bring to my own writing when editing. Except that I have no idea what the author intended and I can only hope my interpretation is what they were striving for.

Critiquing the work of others has really helped me develop my own. It has enabled me to see the common problems so many writers have. I have learnt about pacing, motivation, character development, plot, and on and on. The biggest thing it has brought me is clarity. I can see so many of my own flaws in my work since I began steadily critiquing, and more I can see the path to correction. Before what would have seemed daunting can now be broken down and analyzed and adjusted.

Are you part of a writing group? if not, why? If so, how do you find your own work has developed from it?

I’m off to see what’s been happening here in blog land this last week!

Happy writing.

I can see clearly now the rain has gone,

I can see all obstacles in my way,

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind

It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day..

Johnny Nash