A land forged from the fires of strife, blood of heroes, and touch of the gods.
Where deeds of great valor, vile evils, and blazing passions intertwine
to shape the course of elven and human history within.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Feeding the Feedback

Yes, I guess I need to write a post; it's been about six weeks since my last one.  Time flies...
I've said this several times before; if you're a writer, you should be in a writing group, for various reasons. The first is support; we all need it from time to time, as writing is a solitary activity. We need to simply converse, talk about writing in its purest form, get feedback, brainstorm, and generally TALK to real live people.  Excuse me, real live people in OUR realm of existence.  We all know where our characters live and no matter how much we'd like to go there permanently, we still have to live in our own land and pay the bills.
I've rejoined the Monday Night Writers for these reasons (and a couple more); I need feedback on new characters and adventures, I want to see what my writer friends are doing and the changes in their recent work, and yes, I simply want the camaraderie again, and the support it provides. 
OK, but this works both ways; in a writing group you can't just "get", you must "give" as well, and rightly so, because as all important things in life, it's a team sport, and we must do our part to win. And in the case of writers, winning means making your story the best it can be, and preparing it for the next step beyond the writing group.
I've seen too many writers (professional writers, published for many years) who begin to think themselves beyond the need for that support. And truth be told, sometimes it becomes a detriment to their writing. As with many writers, they tend to want to live in their world and tell us all about every little detail in it. This, of course, is where the editor comes in, and if the writer wields more power than the editor, we get a 500 page book where it should have been a 450 page book; bloated with far too many unnecessary scenes.
I've been guilty of this myself many times. I've looked over my first three novels and now realize I could probably chop 5-10% out of each one with no harm done to the story. My fourth novel, I kept this in mind, and it turned out 15% shorter than the average of the other three.  Not because there was less story to tell, but because I told it more efficiently.
Writers need to be told when to stop; in fact, they need to be told to stop long before they should. And this type of advice comes best from peers, not from editors, because by the time you reach the editor, and you haven't heeded your peers' advice, the editor won't give you a second look.  Or a first, for that matter.
So in your quest for a better story, find support, encouragement, and critique in your writing group; and PAY ATTENTION.  Because writers are readers, too, and know the things to look for in a story.


Kristin McTiernan said...

So true. When I first joined MNW, I thought my first fifty pages of Sunder were perfect, just by virtue of having gone over them so many times myself. But of course, that is not the case. I learned so much (most significantly, the term "info dump") and it has really helped my writing. I hope I never get to the point when I believe I no longer require the input of other writers.

Dennis Young said...

I agree, Kristin; and for this reason primarily I'm returning to the Monday Night Group. I need help! :o)