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Posts Tagged ‘critique partners’

  1. Overwriting: It’s Totally A Thing

    September 23, 2013 by Kiersi

    Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Cave of the Two Lovers

    I didn’t think overwriting would happen in my book. I’m a re-writer, not a reviser, so instead of trimming the fat and beveling the edges and picking at each word until it’s perfect, I usually just scrap a scene completely and start over if it’s just not cutting it for me. That strategy’s worked pretty well so far; it’s like losing a document in a computer crash before you’ve saved it, but then the second time around is obviously better than the first now that your brain has had some time to work through it.

    Or maybe I just think that’s the case, and I’m actually overwriting this book to death.

    It’s a problem of setup. In this novel, an agonizingly specific set of events need to occur in order to send the two heroes off on their journey, and the difficulty lies in A) introducing the status quo naturally and as quickly as possible, B) getting the order of events right that change the status quo, and C) making the actions of each character leading to the next event completely believable and inevitable. All of this has proven far more complicated than I anticipated when I began planning this novel. As my friend Amber Keyser put it, “It needs to be like a raging river carrying you along, unstoppable.” (Yes, it does make me feel better to know other writers–very talented writers–also struggle with setups.) (more…)

  2. Aboard the Roller Coaster

    July 8, 2013 by Kiersi

    Life is a roller coaster. I’m launching my author website this week, and it will be awesome, and I’m terrified. But also giddy. But also terrified? Terrigiddy, I think is what they call this.

    A couple of things I’m thinking about this week:

    Passing time. Our heroes are going from one place to another. They’re sitting in a restaurant and eating. The heroine and her love interest are hanging out at the park for a whole evening. How do we let the reader in on the event, without boring them for three pages with “here’s what I ordered and what we said to each other and how about that Coke?”

    I read a passage yesterday that I just had to highlight. (I never highlight books, but this one is signed and addressed to me, so I can’t very well resell it when I’m done–might as well make it mine.) The protagonist was at a bar with a cute boy and said, “He kept me entertained. I looked at my watch and suddenly, it was eleven, and time to go home.”

    BOOM. Done. Over. And everything that needed to be said was said. They had a great evening–so much so that she lost track of time. Ingenious.

    My first book. We’re close to having a cover and a sample chapter for THE DEVIL’S FIRE, and a tentative release date. I can’t share any of these with you just yet, but soon, my pretties. SOON.

    Finding your joy. I’ll admit it: I’m a little disheartened right now with one of my projects. I’m stalled in my revision. Every time I look at it, I just stare at the screen and my blinking cursor and chew my cuticles. Seriously, my hands are destroyed and I have almost nothing to show for it.

    How do you conquer your enemy when your enemy is yourself? I’m the only thing standing between me and this revision getting done. Between me and querying this book. I have an ache in my chest to just finish it already and hit the next bullet point on my career goal list, but I somehow can’t bring myself to do it.

    At some point, I started to hate writing.

    Isn’t that sick? What writer hates writing? I felt totally lost, because writing has been my getaway, has been my joy, since I was four years old. Stories were my blood.

    So, instead of despairing, I decided to just let the draft sit and ferment for a while. I’ve been reading books that I hope will give me inspiration–I have a library hold on The False Prince and a friend is bringing me the sequel to one of my favorite books, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. (Seriously, this book is awesome, you should read it.)

    I’m also working on my Seekrit Project, just to keep my writer blood moving. You can’t become a better writer without practice, and maybe if I can become a better writer, I can tackle this beast that I’ve built for myself.

    When you’re in a bind and feeling low on inspiration, find your joy. Embrace it.

    Time management. Working a freelance job that fluctuates drastically in terms of workload is a tricky creature. I had more work last month than I’ve ever had–which is a great thing, but also a massive distraction from other projects.

    The Freedom app has saved my life. If you’re like me, and have a hard time tuning out distractions without help, Freedom is the way to go.

    Critiquing. I love critiquing, but I’m always a little nervous when I send off those comments to the author. As my significant other would say, my brutal honesty is my best quality and my worst flaw. I just can’t help it. I don’t even know how to lie off-the-cuff, even if just for the sake of a joke.

    So how glad was I when my CP announced on Twitter that I was beyond helpful? I might have hummed a little song. This is the reason I critique–because I want your book to be the best that it can be.

    How was your weekend? What little lessons have you learned lately?

  3. Your Thing Is Good and You Should Feel Good

    May 7, 2013 by Kiersi

    Back in March, my dear friend and critique partner Eddy Rivas posted a great blog post called, “Your Thing Is Good and You Should Feel Good.” He invited anyone and everyone to post a piece of their WIP to the comments section. He would read each one and reply, “Your thing is good and you should feel good.”

    It was a hit. And I think I know why.

    Sometimes we writers fall out of love with our work. It happens. It’s not because we don’t love the story or the characters anymore. Personally, I grow weary of the revision process pretty quickly. I love writing a new story; it’s thrilling, exciting, like first love. But over time, when I have to deepen my understanding of my story, my characters, and revisit them constantly–I get sick of it.

    I fall out of love.

    So, today, dear Eddy gave me what I call some revision therapy. He asked me:

    “Tell me what you love about this book.”

    I told him. I love my assassins–especially young Scorpion, missing his tongue, but still sexy as all get-out. I love my drunk Han Solo character, who goes by Lionel Harvey. I definitely love the climax of this novel; it’s scary and sad and the end of a great character arc.

    But I’m not on that stuff yet. I’m still mired in the first third of the MS, where it seems like I’ve been for the last few months.

    “Well,” he said, “tell me what you love about the part you’re working on.”

    I had to think about it. I love the gryphon carrying a horse around in the air–it’s such a ridiculous image, and the horse is almost too freaked out to actually, you know, freak out. She’s just stunned. I loved writing that look on her face, giving her life and personality.

    I love getting to know my characters better. They’re pitted against some bandits, and hijinks ensue–and let me tell you, I love me some hijinks.

    Suddenly, after this conversation, the juices started flowing again. I’m tearing up this MS and putting down new, better words like my hair is on fire.

    “Your thing is good,” Eddy told me. “And you should feel good.”

    It’s amazing what just a few words can do. My manuscript is good. I should feel good about it.

    I do.

    So tell me–what are you working on right now? Post it to the comments section, or even better, post it to your own blog–and let’s make this a thing!

  4. The Anatomy of a Critique Partner

    May 4, 2013 by Kiersi

    A few weeks ago I blogged that it takes a village to write a book. In the post, I only mentioned how helpful it’s been working with editors, who have no problem telling us authors where our problems are and helping us fix them.

    Today I want to shine the limelight on another essential piece of the puzzle: critique partners.

    Often referred to as a “CP” on Twitter (and, of course, the verb “to CP” has developed from there, as grammatically illogical as that is), a critique partner is an essential part of the writer’s toolkit.

    What is a critique partner?

    In my experience, critique partners are best gleaned from a group of peers–fellow writers in your genre or category. (Note the distinction from beta reader, who doesn’t need any writing experience, just the ability to read and write his or her reactions.) (more…)

  5. The Zero Draft

    February 5, 2013 by Kiersi

    I really owe credit to my partner-in-brainstorming Eddy over at Eddy Writes (an awesome blog, if you haven’t already been) for the term zero draft. He coined it after I refused to show him my first run-through of my NaNoWriMo novel, Gryphon.

    I refused because I wanted to take some time away from the novel and perform a revision before sending it to anyone. Why? A NaNoWriMo novel, by its very definition, is written over the course of a single month–and most of that time, you’re encouraged “not to look back”: just keep writing. Don’t stop. Don’t turn around and re-read and fix and obsess. Just keep writing.

    For me, this bizarre pace results in a draft that is both fluid and cohesive, but also a total freaking wreck. Like, I would not even show this thing to a third grader, not to mention a critique partner that I actually respect. I refuse to even really call it a draft. Or even a manuscript.

    Thus: zero draft. Not quite version 1, not quite out of beta; completed, but still in the incubation stage. (more…)