Tag Archives: improvement

Is there snobbery among writers?

I’m not certain I believe this, but I’m going to throw it out for the sake of discussion. I need to explain myself before I get into it, but I’ll be brief.

Here’s why writing appeals to me. It’s where I come from as a writer. I found this quote on the The Art of Manliness:

Choose to struggle with something – We live in a culture of the quick and the easy, and it has made us impatient and lazy. When you commit to something that takes work and see it through to the end, it will develop you as much as you develop it. — Jake Weidmann

That’s why I’m here. It’s a zen target where perfection doesn’t exist, and I want to keep improving.

We critique others and receive critique all the time. It’s our best shot at learning and improving. I have benefitted, and I hope I’ve helped others along the way.

All of the things we discuss matter, to an extent. How important are they to actual, even voracious readers?

I’m reading a book where there are about 17 chapters of character introduction and backstory. They just barely got to the haunted mansion where I expect something will happen. This is by a traditionally published author, but this story was self published. This means he had the skills to get a publishing contract at some point in his life.

As a writer, this is always bad form. The story started too soon, and backstory needs to be minimized.

Will the everyday reader care? I wonder how many of our taboos really matter outside writing circles. It annoyed me, but was it because I was taught to be annoyed?

What if we use too many adjectives and adverbs? Will consumer readers care? Agents and publishers will, but — Is this a writers version of being a Rolex wearer who makes a snide remark about his companion’s Timex?

The dialog in this book puts the other person’s name in every line, along with a dialog tag to indicate the speaker. As a writer, I know not to keep saying the other fellow’s name. If there are only two people, I probably don’t even need dialog tags if you get me started.

This story even has what writers call “as you know, Bob” dialog. This is where both characters already know something, but they go over it again because the reader doesn’t know it.

Am I being a snob here? We read each other’s blogs and hear stories where someone threw down a novel because there was a semicolon on the first page.

Really? Is that all it takes to discard years of hard work from a writer? This feels a lot like, “Oh, wine from a cardboard box — how unique.”

“As soon as I read ‘Jane guffawed’ I put the book in the fireplace.” You may have missed out on a good story too.

All of us are at a different place on this pilgrimage. I can see many of you ahead of me, but I hear some coming up behind me too.

For myself, I will take these lessons to heart. I want to improve my writing skill and deliver the best product I can. Tomorrow’s product will be better. It doesn’t mean that yesterday’s product sucked.

I’m going to be a bit more patient with my fellow writers. I’m also going to finish this haunted house story.

What do you think? Are writers, editors, publishers, and agents being snobbish on some things? The issues are important, but will those things really matter to consumers?


Filed under Writing

That was Brutal

I just got back from meeting with an editor. It was just about what I expected. Donna is a wonderful person, and isn’t afraid to tell it like she sees it. This is paramount to the writing process.

We learn from our failures. It’s the only way I’ve ever been able to improve. It’s the loser of the baseball game that learns something. Writing is all about critical opinions – if you really want to improve. I want readers to enjoy my stories, and this is one way to make them better.

Donna pointed out some good things, and I appreciate that about her. Then she rolled up her sleeves and went to work. There are ways I can ramp up the tension and increase empathy for my main character. I’m sure every writer can always do more.

I need to improve in showing vs telling. There are members of my critique group who will take great glee in hearing that. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time. Donna said it’s time for me to read fewer texts, and start reading more novels. I agree with this. I’ve known it’s a shortcoming for a long time.

I agree with pretty much everything she had to say. I need to expand on character motivations and experiences. There are also some story points that Donna missed. We talked at length about them. It isn’t that she didn’t get it, it’s that I didn’t put the point across well.

I recommend that every writer out there consider getting an actual editor to go over one of their pieces. I can get any number of people to tell me how wonderful my work is. I appreciate them too, but they can’t get me to the next level.

Donna read my novel, and gave me pointers that apply directly to me. You just can’t get that from a text book. Sure, she charges, but she put many hours into this project, and I know she didn’t charge nearly enough. She also met with me face to face, and went over the big issue items in detail.

My critique group goes over a dozen pages or so per month. They’re a great bunch of guys. Donna read the whole stinking book. (More than once, I’ll wager) She can weigh in on the character changes, the growth, and the hero’s journey.

Donna did a good job for me, and is going to email my entire manuscript back, with notes in key areas. If anyone would like to contact her, I’m sure she would appreciate the work. Donna Cook Tell her Craig sent you.

I feel a little like a minor leaguer who got called up, and sent right back down. I know many of those minor leaguers will be back, and I intend to be one of them.

Writing appeals to me, because it’s a journey and not a destination. I think I just made some strides down the trail.

My process is to pout a little bit, probably drink a little too. Once it all sinks in a bit, I’ll get to work and step up my game. I get to learn some things, and future readers will get a better product.


Filed under Writing