Sunday, January 11, 2009

It worked! Bwah ha ha....

We had our first international Slushbusters meeting last week, with Lisa joining us via Skype.  (Thanks to Michelle for setting everything up!)  Wonderful time had by all.  We were coming off post-holiday craziness so only three of us had submitted- Bridget, Lisa, and Steph.

Main points of critiques?  Perspective.  Maintaining tension.  Making clear what the main character was thinking.  And, of course, Steph suggesting something that would involve a major, novel-wide rewrite.  (Steph does that often.  We think it's because we haven't had time for one of her writing exercises for at least 6 months.)

Oh, and we discussed how much we actually pay attention to each other.  

I'll occasionally read on a blog how someone's manuscript was ruined because they tried to incorporate an entire critique group's feedback.  So never, ever listen to a critique group.  They are evil.  

It makes me want to borrow Miss Snark's clue gun and gently but firmly make the following points:

1.  If your critique group is giving you bad advice, find a new critique group,


2.  Have the sense God gave a goat.  Take said critique group's advice with a grain of salt.  Keeping something that doesn't work in your manuscript says more about your judgement than it does about your critique group.  

(I have no idea how sensible goats are, but the alliteration sounds nice.  Care to weigh in on the subject, Alison?)

But I digress.  (Don't I always?)  

It turns out that all of us Slushies incorporate criticism.*  Sometimes we keep the edits.  Sometimes we don't.  I haven't always followed a Slushie's suggestion.  However, I've learned that whether the suggestion works or not, there's always a reason it was given.  I just need to figure out how best to address it.

So here's to critique groups!  May you be lucky enough to find a good one.

*This is where copying a portion of the manuscript to another document comes in.  It's so much easier to edit something if it's not in the "official" manuscript.


Michelle said...

Next time I intend to bring the regular digital camera so we can take a picture of us gathered around the laptop. Never before has a single Slushbuster gotten such intense undivided attention. Lisa, you were the star of the evening, and all you had to do was move to the Netherlands! Oh, and write a fantastic chapter.

Lisa said...

Yeah, I still have a rosy glow from all the attention! Of course, now I'm dying to know what happened at the rest of the meeting (since the meeting starts after midnight my time, I didn't stay for the entire thing). What was Steph's novel-changing suggestion?

Sarah said...

We were discussing "To Twist...". Should the perspective be only Appa's? Or should a narrator be included? What if the narrator was the witch doctor? (I forget her name!)

Or! What if the whole story is written from the witch doctor's perspective, watching what happens to Appa?

That's when Bridget's head exploded and we started discussing whether we actually listen to each other.

Lisa said...

Thanks for filling in the details, Sarah. And actually, I used to work with goats in Maine and they have quite a lot of sense, certainly more than sheep, which are just plain dumb. Goats are have to get to know them, build a relationship. Sheep, you learn how to "handle" them. At least, that's my experience