Monday, August 1, 2011

Rough Draft Done, and My Thoughts on On-line Critique Groups

Well, the good news is that the rough draft for my new book is done. Actually, it was completed the other day, but I am only now getting here to post it. There is that part of me that wants to dive into editing, eager to clean it up and get it out there to agents, but I am putting on the brakes and giving myself a couple days before I actually do that editing. I have a film writer friend who does this all the time, basically he follows a format like:

Write rough draft
Start working on story and character info for next film
Go back to previous film and do an edit
Write rough draft for second film
Go back and do another edit of first film

And well, it goes something like that. That may not be exactly it, but you get the picture. There is a time off between works, to put his mind elsewhere so he's got fresh eyes when he goes and looks over the previous project for editing and review purposes. That's what I am doing here, though instead of immediately jumping into another story - though I have the next one in the planning stages already anyway - I am going to take some time to read through a new book I just got: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print. It was suggested by my lovely friend Michelle at Never Gonna Grow Up Reviews, as suggested by a friend of hers. It might sound a little like a he said, she said kind of situation, but I trust this will have been a priceless purchase, at least the knowledge I gain will hopefully be priceless. The reviews were insanely positive, so I shall dive into the pool of helpful educational reading, and hopefully emerge with insight and knowledge that will help me delve into my editing with confidence.

Now, self-editing isn't all I am doing. I have been joining some critique group styled websites to get peer writer opinions and critiques along the way. I have run into some issues with some of the people though. It's hard to take advice from someone when you do a swap read and cringe with every second word because of grammar and spelling flaws, not to mention the excessive times I've had to read stories that were either focused on or started with suicide as a theme. Even worse is when I know the suggestions for changes (especially to grammar) are incorrect. They aren't all cringe worthy, but I've seriously read about more suicide in the last month than I have in my entire lifetime thanks to those websites/groups. They are also rather competitive, like she/he who can make the flashiest post and offer the most to others (like making covers or such) gets the attention, rather than people reading and critiquing for the sake of helping themselves and others in a common goal. In the cases where members get something out of getting the most picks, reviews, or thumbs up, I am seeing a lot of disgustingly underhanded things going on: people making multiple accounts to pick their own work multiple times, having friends vote others down just to vote their friend up, and blatant sabotage of others posts and stories to keep people from getting interested. Some of them are so scary, it makes me want to stick with self-editing and help from my three lovely beta-readers alone.
That said, I would really like to find a critique group that is focused in my same realm of writing (young adult paranormal romance, or at least paranormal even without the young adult or romance elements) that doesn't have any immediate prize or special thing for people who get highest ratings, votes, or number of picks. I want to find an honest to goodness group of people who just want to get help/suggestions/comments about their writing and help others in doing the same. I am not giving up on the other places I have already found, but it would be nice to get advice/comments/critiques from others who are actually actively interested in the things I write. A reply of, "It's a good story, but it's not really my kind of thing," or "I don't really like vampires so I don't have much to say, but I didn't see any grammar mistakes," doesn't really help much.

If you have any suggestions on web-based critique groups focused more on paranormal works (young adult paranormal romance if at all possible), I'd appreciate the heads up. Comment away if you have any ideas. I am still always on the lookout myself, but I am always open to suggestions of new things I may not have found yet.

I was going to end there, but I want to pass on one other thing I found interesting today.
While I was at the bookstore, I was strolling through the Teen Paranormal Romance section and I saw/heard something that made me smile. There were two boys, they were with a girl but she'd gone off somewhere else, looking through the section. One boy looks to the other and says, "This book was terrible." He then proceeds to look further down the aisle and said, "This one was really good." His friend agreed on both accounts, and they moved further down the aisle and I was no longer in creepy eavesdropping range. Now ordinarily I wouldn't have given it much thought, because I've heard the same general conversation happening between sets of girls or a girl discussing books with her mom. This was different because it was boys, and they weren't talking about boy-centric books either. The disliked book happened to be Twilight, sorry Twilight fans. The liked book was one of the Vampire Academy books, though I didn't catch which one. It didn't really matter. The point was, they were hanging out in a slew of teen paranormal romance books, expressing an interest (or disinterest, but obviously having read it anyway, as the case may be) in the genre. That was nice to see, and I thought I would share that.

With that, night!

1 comment:

  1. Hey crazy lady. Haven't heard from you in awhile.. don't forget about us blog readers. ;)