Monday, October 20, 2008

Its A Bird, Its A Plane... it's super writer.

Tonight I have managed to finish three assignments and print out the draft version (Wamphyri) of a fourth.

Are they any good?

No idea. I've thought some assignments good and had to resubmit them while thinking others were okay and ending up getting an A for them. Now I just do them and send them. I'll worry about the mark or the need to resubmit when it happens.

Things have quietened down a bit at work as well allowing me to get back into other things more enjoyable. So today I began reading my friend Amy's latest manuscript. I'm a little over halfway through my first read through.

When I critique something, I always read it in its entirety first. This allows me to give my first impressions without distractions. It is a learned skill to be able to read with a readers hat and then reread with an editors hat. If you want to be valued as a critiquer (and be able to effectively take comments on your own work) you need to learn this skill. It only comes with practise and attention to detail. Practise enjoying stories and use attention to detail when editing.

I should finish my first read through either tomorrow or the day after and then pen my initial comments. I'll then reread each chapter and mark them up with comments and critiques as I go. Finally I'll make any plot comments at the end.

It's a lengthy process, even more so when you're doing a novel length manuscript, but I wouldn't offer if I wasn't going to give my best efforts at advancing her piece. I'd like to think she wouldn't have asked me to read her work if she didn't appreciate my efforts and the comments I've given in the past.

It's worth it for both parties. If you want to improve your writing and feel good about yourself, join a critique group. I've been involved with Critters, TPN at AbD, and a number of individuals. I've learned a lot from all of them. The more groups you involve yourself with, the more different writers you will come into contact with, and most know something you don't.

It takes time to find a few select individuals who you trust enough to work with over time. Once you find your core group of readers/critique partners, never turn down work from them. If you're busy, explain that there may be a delay. If you have writers block, no harm in still sending emails to keep the lines of communication open. Build trust and a comfortable rapport. Get to know them, become friends but not too close a friend. At some point you need to tell that other writer that they took a left when they should have taken a right. Some people find that hard to do if you don't keep some sort of distance. It helps if you're on different sides of the world.

I've been involved with creating the first critique group at AHWA. I'll also be involved with the first group as a critiquer. I may pass some of my current stories through there to see what fellow horror writers think of them and I'll definitely pass new stuff through there as it comes out. I'm looking forward to commenting on other Australian horror writers work though.

Whoa - my computer just crashed for no particular reason - backing up now. Running scans now.

That's scary.

Time to go to bed I think. I'll let these scans and backups finish and call it a night

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