As Promised

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Second half of critique group questions from last week’s post:

6)  CONFLICT:

* Are character motivations powerful enough to create sufficient conflict?

* Is a potential for conflict established that is strong enough to move the story forward?

* Are the motives understandable?

7)  DIALOGUE:

* Is the dialogue between characters natural, purposeful, interesting, engaging?

* Does the dialogue contain emotion in a way that narrative cannot?

* Are the character’s voices distinct? Does each one have a different way of expressing themselves? Are their voices appropriate for the setting, genre, and time period?

* Is the dialogue believable?

8)  NARRATIVE AND POINT OF VIEW:

* Is the narrative well-placed with the dialogue, not overwhelming the reader?

* Is background information presented at appropriate times and in the correct POV?

* Is POV clear and consistent?  Are changes smooth and logical?

*Should I use a different POV?

9)  PACING:

* Has the author dropped the reader into the action?

* Does the story flow smoothly, freely, and logically?

* Does every scene move the story forward?

10)  STORY:

* Are the story ad plot elements compatible with the genre?

* Can you picture each scene in your head?

* Is the purpose of each scene clear?

* Does each scene move the story forward?

* Does the story hold your interest?

* Does everything in the story build logically, plausibly, and believable toward the end/climax?

* Where do you feel the story is heading?

* Do inspirational elements grow organically out of character or plot?

Is There Still Such A Thing as Reading for Pleasure?

I still read for an hour or so before I go to bed. It’s been a life long habit.

Reading for pleasure…reading to relax…reading to satisfy a craving for adventure, romance, intrigue…

But, sometimes in the middle of a chapter, I find that I’ve absentmindedly switched into edit mode, dissecting plot, sentence structure—well, you get the idea.

Why,” I ask myself, “can’t you just enjoy a book and try not to play editor and critic?”

I’m a relative newbie myself, and I certainly have a lot to learn. I promise I don’t do it because I want to be critical of another writer.

Why do I do it, then?     7167049958_be9ac9e47d

I’m not 100% sure, but a lady I was talking to in the salon where I get my hair cut said something worth repeating.

I was telling her that I was editing my book —yet, again—and she divulged that she is an avid reader, who often reads right over typos and other mistakes because she is sooooo engrossed in the story.

That caught my attention. 

Perhaps the reason I sometimes shift into edit mode is that the story is not engaging me. So, instead of reading on, my mind tries to fix it….

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I think there is a golden nugget of truth there:

The most important aspect of writing just may be story. 

If we give our readers a well-written story, they may be able to forgive us an incomplete sentence or the use of an adverb here and there.

I suggest we do strive for excellence in all of our writing

BUT

our readers can be a very forgiving bunch

 IF 

we will give them what they want most:

a great story!

 

Write or Rewrite?

Here’s what I think. Plain and simple. It’s a LOT more fun to write than to rewrite. In the case of writing, it’s the creative surge within—and as it flows out—onto the paper that makes it so enjoyable.

One moment the page is blank. Within a few minutes, the page is half-filled.

One moment, it is a small spark in the brain. The next, it is a living, breathing, growing organism.

A thought begets another thought. And that thought multiplies into a grouping of thoughts that are just begging to be a story. And that story is NOT GOING TO WAIT!

The ideas are coming so fast that there’s no time to check for grammar, spelling, or errors of any kind. They spill out and if they aren’t acknowledged right away, they fade, sneak, or even run away. It’s hard to recoup them. Often, it’s not possible.

So, like many of you, I have carry a pad of paper in my purse and a notebook in my car. If an idea comes into my head, I pull over and scribble it down. If I’m in a restaurant, a napkin may have to suffice. In the doctor’s office, I once wrote down an idea on the paper liner from the exam table. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

So what happens when you are in the middle of writing and someone calls you to say, partake of luscious ribs from the grill?

That’s what just happened to me. Seriously. In the middle of writing this blog, my husband announced that the ribs were ready a good hour earlier than I had expected.

Now, I couldn’t disappoint the chef (or my stomach) so I closed down my writing program and graced my husband with my presence at the table. The ribs were great and I wasn’t sorry I let them interrupt my writing, but now I am back in front of the computer and I’m stalling…

Why? Because I’ve lost my momentum, my train of thought. I’ve forgotten where I was headed with all of this. Things aren’t quite gelling the way I had hoped. Scratch that. The way I had planned.

So, what should I do? Sit here and wait for inspiration? Pray for instant recall?

I’m gonna give this what I call the “Fifteen Minute Rule.”  This means that if, within the space of fifteen minutes, nothing earth shaking or mind blowing has taken place, I’m shutting it down. That’s right. I’m powering off.

Why? Because it is much more fun to write. Not so much fun to rewrite. (Editing, well that’s just a necessary evil. But that’s not what I’m writing about.) It’s not as exciting when you’ve lost that edge, that quirky way of expressing something ordinary in a new and different way that makes us all sit up and take notice and say: “Wow! That’s sure a new twist” or “Hum, I never thought about it that way before.”

So, go ahead and have a plate of delicious ribs, if you want to. But, as for me, I think I’ll pass—next time.