Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Critique Partners and Life Skills

A writer's life can often be lonely.... sure we have the company of the imaginary people who live in your heads....but what do you do when they don't or won't talk back to you?

It's no use calling up your friends or your relatives and saying to them "Gregori" is acting up...he's not doing what I want him too... they're as likely to contact the funny farm as they are to laugh outright and point the finger.

Yet you know as you beaver away at your computer that your hero should be doing something extra or what he is doing, doesn't sit quite right.... so what can you do?

For me when characters are misbehaving my favourite pastime is to play a game or two of Spider Solitaire...it never ceases to amaze me how playing a few games frees up your creative process...if that doesn't work then I cruise my favourite blogs....Rachelle Gardener or Jessica Faust at Bookends always have some article that will stir the creative juices.

But recently I've found myself a critique partner...and I've lucked out and struck gold... Within a few days she's pointed out flaws a writer glosses over because they are too familiar with the work.... Such closeness  doesn't allow an author to stand back and take an objective look at their writing.

One legal issue, the backbone of the whole work, bugged me ... we tossed ideas back and forth... then I came up with a brainwave and went back a generation in my story....she asked her lawyer husband.... he said it would work....go for it.

And although it means rewriting and reshaping the overall effect takes the story to a new level and I've found the words literally flowing off my fingertips.

To test my hypothesis it would work I asked my young relatives the same age as my heroine what they knew about the issues my heroine was facing and the result was sobering....even the ones with young children had only the vaguest notions about wills...trusts...or where to go for such advice.....The only one who had any clues about legal issues was the young man who'd had a few run ins with the law.

So much for life skills taught to our young ones.

My critique partner sent me her first three chapters and I took to them with a red pen....and worried I'd been too harsh.... But the response was so reassuring.... "I think I've won the lottery. But I don't want our partnership to be one sided."  

She has a great story with one of the most fantastic opening lines I've ever read.... and believe me I've read a lot of opening lines. I was in absolute awe...but her writing was bogged down in repetition and excess verbiage....hence the red pen.  

Our relationship is in it's infancy but already for me it's worked miracles.  And don't worry my friend about it being one sided....it's not...you've given me the jab in the rear I've needed.

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