Writing Group Blues

I just got home from one of the writing groups I’ve joined.  A couple are based around getting together and just writing, this is the only one that is based on critiquing.

Now, I take critiquing very seriously.  When I was in school I was very fortunate to have a series of really good english and creative writing teachers.  They really pushed me to become a better writer, and almost more importantly to be better at giving and receiving constructive criticism.  There’s almost an art to being able to read through someone’s writing, good or bad, and providing an opinion and suggestions.

When I’m doing a critique I’m reading really slowly, carefully, making notes along the way.  I always come up with a few good points and a few suggestions.  Even if I really like the piece, I always try to come up with at least a couple suggestions.  Whether the writer uses them or not doesn’t matter, it’s about giving them a different perspective.  We have to push each other if we’re going to improve.

Today, I handed out the first five pages of my NaNo project.  It’s rough, I haven’t even given it a second look since writing it I told them all that as a disclaimer.  I sat back and waited for the list of issues to roll in.

Their response, “It’s good.”

I asked if the descriptions were too heaver or too light.  “No, they’re good.”

I asked if it flowed well.  “Flow is good.”

I asked them for any suggestions.  I got one, the transition from the first chapter to the second could be a little better.

That’s it.

Now, I know I’ve improved as a writer but there’s no way I’m that “good”.  No, I think it says a lot more about the quality of the criticism than about the quality of the writing.  That’s disappointing.

Lesson learned

My word count for NaNo has dropped off the last couple days.  On days when I would have normally cranked out at least 4,000 words I’ve barely been doing half that.

Today, my NaNo region had a write in and a dinner afterwards.  The dinner was interesting because our laptops were put away and just talked about our projects.  One of the writers said something that really stuck with me.

She said: “If a chapter is boring to write it will probably be boring to read.”

Now that sounds like such a common sense thing but it reverberated in me and made me think that maybe that’s why my word count has been dropping.  I’m bored.  The chapters I’ve been writing have been so boring to write that I can barely get through them.

So, I sat down and took a hard look at what I’ve been doing.  My silly, easy werewolf tale has turned into a serious mystery/thriller, I’ve been filling in some important details but it seems like I’ve been dragging it out too much.  The details are important to the rest of the story but each one doesn’t need it’s own chapter.  The other writer mentioned how a lot of that kind of stuff can be narrated or summarized quickly between more interesting scenes that are written out more.  Maybe that’s what I need to do better instead of getting sucked into writing chapters that bore me because I can guarantee if it’s boring to write it’s going to be boring to read.

NaNo progress

Just a quick update, I went over ten thousand words today in my NaNo draft.  That means I’ve got a daily average of over two thousand words, which means I’m track to complete the challenge.

It’s exciting, I had a few ideas rattling around but nothing really inspiring.  Then, on November first, sitting down in front of a blank screen, I had a quirky idea.  I consciously decided that I didn’t want to do anything too deep or serious, I wanted something almost cheesy that I could have fun blasting out in a month.  Rather than going with something I wanted to get just right, or was too emotionally invested, I just wanted something entertaining to write (and hopefully to read).

Here’s the synopsis from the NaNo site:

A small town sheriff is faced with two sets of strange murders.  One seems like the work of a big, deranged animal, the others almost seem like professional hits.  The strangest part is that the bullets being pulled out of one set of bodies have been coated with silver.  Any other sheriff might not have any idea what was going on but for this one, he knows all too well, he’s been a werewolf for over three years.  He’s a good man, a good cop, but once a month he turns into a feral beast.  Assisted by his trusty deputies, the sheriff needs to get a handle on these murders and put a stop to them fast, anyone could be next and it’s only a few more weeks until the next full moon.

When I started writing it, it was going to be a kind of campy comedy piece, totally different than the other projects I’ve been working on, but the more I write the more serious it’s getting.  It’s still fun and pretty light-hearted but it’s rapidly turning into a thriller/mystery, which kind of surprised me.  It actually has some meat going for it, I’m getting excited.

Ten thousand words down, only forty thousand left to go!

NaNo

I haven’t been posting much over the past few weeks.  I’ve had some personal things come up and I’ve been sick for the last week and a half.  Being sick is no fun.

I’ve also been focused on a Halloween short story I was writing for my daughter.  She’s been out of town for a while and I thought it would be fun to share something with her.  I wrote a fun story with a little bit of everything in it, ghosts, monsters, bullies, and adventure.  Using Scrivener I formatted it so it could be read on her iPad and emailed it to her and her mom.  She hasn’t finished it yet but I’m hoping she enjoys it.

In other news it’s November, NaNoWriMo time!  I met up with the regional group today and got started on my new project.  In three hours with them I got almost 4,000 words knocked out.  Not a bad start, if I do say so myself.  I won’t be able to keep up that rate but I figure the more I can get done earlier the less pressure there will be later.

Good luck to all the other NaNo writers out there!

WFCF voting is still open!

All of the stories have been submitted and are posted on the Write Club Fight Club website.  I know we’re all busy but if you’re interested in writers or want to support writers you should definitely check it out and vote for your favorites.

If you’re interested in my submission and haven’t checked it out already, visit J.M. Payer vs. N. J. Layouni.

I’m not going to tell you which one to vote for, just read the two and vote for your favorite.  Feedback is also appreciated, I know I’m always trying to improve my writing.  My story is Mr. Jingles, you can leave feedback there or here on my blog.

I hope you guys enjoyed the process as much as I have, it’s been a blast and I can’t wait for round two!  If you’re a writer you should definitely think about participating, it’s a whole lot of fun.

 

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Whooooo!  After weeks of working out, training and sparring it’s time to fight!

Write Club Fight Club.  The writing is done, all that’s left is the fighting and today I’m up against N. J. Layouni.

J.M. Payer vs. N. J. Layouni.

I encourage all of you to visit the site, check out the two stories and vote for your favorite.  Honestly, I don’t even care if I win or not, I’m just having a blast participating in the adventure.   I’ve already learned some lessons from reading the other stories that have battled so far.  Any excuse to stretch the writing muscles in a different direction is worth the time and effort.

Feedback on both stories is encouraged and I’d love to know what you think about mine.   I don’t even want to name mine, that might skew the results and I want a straight forward battle.  I’ll just say it’s the one about the cop and a cat.  If you read it and have any suggestions or feedback, I’d love to hear it.

Battle on!  Go to WFCF and vote!

A little slow

I haven’t been spending much time on WordPress over the past few weeks.  I’m sure you can relate, sometimes life just gets busy.  And when life gets busy I prioritize, which in this case meant using what little free time I’ve had to work on things that are higher on the list.  For example, family, friends, and projects.

That said, I have some good news.  I’ve started work on my submission for Write Club Fight Club.

In case you haven’t been paying attention (shame!), Write Club Fight Club matches up two writers and provides a challenge.  The writers submit their work and readers vote on the best piece.  We have some interesting conditions placed on our fight, which can be found here. I’ve been paired up with N.J. Layouni, we’ve been scheduled to “fight” on October 2nd.  

I’ve been pretty psyched up for Write Club Fight Club ever since I heard about it.  So, you might think I jumped right into writing as soon as the matches and conditions were announced, that wasn’t the case though.  I was really busy and decided to let the ideas bounce around for a while.

Yesterday, I put fingers to keyboard and the story started to flow.  I’m excited, can’t wait to see where this all goes.

Stay tuned!

Time vs Energy vs Words

The last few months, my writing routine has been knocking out between 20-30 pages a week.  I’ll grant that they aren’t quality pages, they’re mostly unedited, but I’m trying to get the drafts finished before I really dig into the editing process.

The last two weeks though, I’ve been working so much that when I get home I basically collapse on the couch.  Then, maybe watch a little TV and head to bed.  Last week I wrote about 15 pages and they were terrible.  I’ll probably end up tossing them rather than facing a grueling process of turning them into something readable.  This week… I’ve written maybe 5 pages.

Exhausting work, my writing’s kryptonite. Continue reading “Time vs Energy vs Words”

Started a new project

(Image from an interesting post on Good E Reads)

I hadn’t realized how tied up my brain is with my daughter’s book until last night.

I was really trudging through my writing time, just struggling to add a couple new pages to her story.  It wasn’t writer’s block, nothing that serious, but it was work.  The words were reluctant, difficult, and stubborn.  I got my pages done and then closed the word processor with relief.  Done for the day, whew.

But there was another document open. Continue reading “Started a new project”