Justine: Writing in a Vacuum Sucks

59612318 - woman with vacuum cleaner isolated on whiteI’m very fortunate to have two fantastic critique partners, Jenn and Lisa, that I meet with once a week. Every Tuesday, we hit the Red Robin in Scottsdale, AZ for lunch (because it’s close to Lisa’s office) and we talk about writing, swap critiqued pages, discuss story problems, or vent about our husbands and kids.

Jenn, Lisa, and I have all have a somewhat similar writing background. We’ve done multiple Immersions with Margie Lawson, so we all look for the same sort of rhetorical devices in our writing based on the lessons we’ve learned from Margie. We’ve also all taken similar plotting classes and while we none of us write in the same genre, we know each other’s stories well and we have a pretty good understanding of our respective writing styles so as not to suggest fixes that change each other’s stories into our own.

As good as that all is – and it’s really good – I think every writer needs Continue reading

Justine: The Truth, the Whole Truth, or Something Else?

fear of resultsSo I’ve enrolled in yet another class (I swear, what am I doing? I should be writing!) and since it started, something’s been bothering me.

One of the requirements is to give feedback to our fellow classmates (who, aside from my critique partner, are all strangers to me writing every variety of fiction under the sun). I’m noticing what I think is an unhealthy trend and I’m not sure if I should give in to it.

The trend? My classmates are going really easy on their critiques, IMHO. As in ridiculously easy. Whereas they make a few minor corrections and heap praise on the writer, I bleed all over their pages, praising when it’s deserved, of course, but always leaving several suggestions or bullet points at the end of their piece.

Perhaps I’m a harder reader than most.

But really, what is the point of a critique? In my view, Continue reading

Nancy: On Gratitude

Season of Gratitude

Those of you living in the States know that this coming Thursday is the day we Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving. For many, this is a day of hectic traveling and imprudent overeating. But it’s also a day of gathering together with loved ones and reflecting on the things in our lives for which we’re grateful.

It shouldn’t take a special holiday to make us realize the wonderful things in our lives and show gratitude for them. But speaking for myself, I get busy, caught up in life, and don’t always take time to acknowledge how fortunate I am. So, in the spirit of the season Continue reading

Jilly: New Year, New Writer – Critique Partners and Beta Readers

Critique Partners & Beta Readers

They can see what you can’t

I’m a newbie at the writing game, but I’m a lifelong reader. I always check out the acknowledgements page, which means I’ve read thousands of heartfelt thank-yous to critique partners and beta readers, usually along the lines of “they read this story when it sucked, so you don’t have to.” I knew before I ever put finger to keyboard that getting feedback was important, but as Justine discovered with conflict and Michaeline learned regarding revision, I had no clue what that actually meant. I had a vague idea that I should ask a few readers for comments and they’d tell me if they liked the characters and spot mistakes in the details. I imagined the contemporary romance equivalent of the online comments on the new Sherlock – the train carriage belonged to the wrong tube line, and the photographers in the press pack were using the wrong lenses. Continue reading