Yves Brown McClain: Literary Fierceness

All your critics can’t be wrong…

Posted by Dahlia on March 9, 2011

Thanks to everyone who reviewed my WIP as part of the Catch Me if You Can Blogfest this past Monday and Tuesday. I received a ton of valuable feedback that I plan on incorporating into my rewrite. I’d like to point out some things about the WIP that were great and some that were not so great.

First, some back story. Solitude was originally a prologue. A long, drawn out prologue about the ex in question, their relationship, and how my MC got to where she is at the onset of the story. When I first completed it, a few people recommended that I get rid of it – it wasn’t necessary. It was also one of the 7 deadly sins of prologues (which is a really great piece, I highly recommend it to anyone with a prologue or thinking about using one). According to Kristen Lamb, the writer of the above-mentioned post, mine committed sins 1,3, and 4. So, I scrapped it and revised it as chapter 1. My back story on the history of Solitude is the perfect segue to…

What didn’t work in my WIP

Too much back story – I jumped too quickly into the history. In my defense, Solitude began as a prologue with nothing but back story. All things considered, a lot of cuts were made. But I understand that I do need to work on seamlessly weaving the backstory throughout.

Too much tell, not enough show – I am aware that this is a weakness of mine and something that I will constantly need to work on.

Dude, stick with one tense already – This is the one where I really didn’t realize I did it. I promise not only did I take English in elementary, middle, high school, and college. I passed. I promise. I’ve got transcripts to prove it. However, I realize that I could use a refresher on grammar, so I’ll be taking on some self study with the Little, Brown Handbook.

What did work with my WIP

Voice  – generally, everyone enjoyed this part of the WIP. Yaay…I like having a good voice. 🙂

Ameenah – the roommate/BFF of the MC was a hit with most reviewers. Who wouldn’t like a chick that rolls her eyes and tells you to stop all that “crying shit”? I wanted her to come off a bit brazen. I’m glad everyone picked up on it.

Dialogue – Dialogue is my strength when I write. I often have my dialogue first then I build everything else.

So now what? It’s back to revisions on my WIP. I do plan on reposting the first 550 words or so again, so I invite the reviewers back to see if there’s any improvement. Once again, thanks so much for your feedback.

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9 Responses to “All your critics can’t be wrong…”

  1. Tracy said

    I didn’t participate in the blogfest, but I have to say I’m impressed with how well you’re able to take constructive criticism. We all need others to help point out the issues with our work that we may not be able to see, but not everyone is truly open to hearing what needs improving.

    Kudos to you, girlfriend! That puts you a big step ahead of a lot of others.

  2. I am so very proud of you! You are going to be a very successful author. You realize that it takes not only talent and hard work; but humility and a thick skin. I can’t wait to be able to say “I knew her when…!”

    • Why thank you! When it comes to feedback, of course we can take on the “if you don’t like my story, you can go kick rocks” attitude, but when people begin to say the same things, then it is something to be considered. It can be hard to deal with, but if the writer is serious, wants to improve, wants to tell an awesome story, and ultimately publish books that will sell, then criticism/feedback is part of the process…who’s going to keep buying crappy books from the same person? Not this chick. 🙂

  3. Hi, I just read your link: ‘7 deadly sins of prologues’ and am quite glad that I recently turned my prologue into chapter one. I asked the question “prologue or no prologue?” re. my own Fantasy Novel, on Linkedin in one of the groups. Got a mixed response (some very heated)and decided that if I was asking the question, then I must know the answer already. At least, I knew the answer I wanted!Must get back to that novel which has been ‘completed’ several times.
    Great that you have found the advice given on your WIP useful. I was noticable by my absence but will try and be back for the next version.
    Debbie 🙂

  4. Pam Parker said

    Sounds like that was a really helpful blogfest for you – congrats! Keep writing and revising!

  5. Trisha said

    I’m glad you found the comments helpful, I did on mine too!

  6. Author Kristen Lamb said

    Don’t get discouraged. These are all mistakes made by new writers. But the cool thing is, you are realizing that it is a problem.

    One of the things I have my WWBC Teams do is write an extensive background on all the characters. Get all that backstory out of your system ahead of time. Take time to intimately know your characters. Then you can give the reader the relevant details, without stopping the flow of the narrative to give info dump.

    When I first started writing, my ally characters always outshone my protag. I believe that has to do with fear. Our protag is often us…so we hold back in ways that we don’t with ally characters.

    Take this WIP and use it as extensive notes. Sit down and write out what your book is about in ONE sentence. That sentence needs your protag, antag and an ACTIVE goal.

    For my current novel it looks like this:

    A widowed female vet home from Iraq must join forces with a woman she hates in order to rescue a father she has never forgiven before his kidnappers can destroy the world.

    Protag–I don’t use a name. No one would get a name. BUT you know WHO she is.

    Active goal–“join forces” to “rescue”

    Antag–Kidnappers

    Ticking clock and stakes–Destroy the world.

    The go at least figure out your major plot points. This will help keep you off bunny trails of navel-gazing. What is your climactic scene? Figure it out. Will it be satisfying to the reader? Is it interesting?

    Too many writers focus on the beginning of the novel. Focus on your end FIRST. If I am planning a road trip, it is next to impossible to do if I don’t know my end destination. Once I pick a destination, there are only so many logical routes to get me there.

    Good luck, and thanks for the shout-out.

  7. […] rewrite of it as chapter one. I only retained about five percent of the prologue. I took the feedback from the CMIYC blogfest under consideration as I rewrote it. I then turned in the completed chapter […]

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