Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Subjectivity: What drives a writer to drink

Chapter one of the sequel went under the crit gun last week. Talk about mixed signals...

Being a first draft and all, I knew this would need some major work. I've been in revisions on the first novel a long time. I needed some insight on how far back the opening chapters of the sequel needed to step to get readers up to speed or lay things out for those who did not read the first book.

Well, I received a lot of insight. It might take a few meditation sessions and a bottle of rum to connect it all, but it's there.

As I search for some ice and a glass, I'll share some of what drives me to this moment.

Five critiquers read the past novel. Seven did not. Neither group agreed on any particular point in majority.

Half liked the opening for the same reason. Half did not for various reasons

There are too many things introduced in the chapter. There are just the right amount.

The pace is too slow. The pace is too fast.

There is much confusion over too much going on. Others follow along with little or no problem.

A few get frustrated and stop halfway through or sooner. Some really like the chapter. Some love it and want the next one right now.

Some don't like the couple longer sentences. Others aren't bothered by them.

There are too many tags and action beats slowing down the dialogue. There are just the right amount. Others want more tags.

On the bright side, everyone finds typos, and not all the same ones. Thank goodness for many sets of eyes.

What to take away from all this - after I find some coke to mix with this rum? I need to do some explaining without info dumping, along with slowing down while speeding up and clarfiying speakers without adding tags or beats. I need to add background to my world and characters without adding backstory and break up my long sentences with invisible punctuation.

In short, I need to do some major rethinking because this chapter clearly isn't working despite the fact that I really like it.

I raise my glass to my wonderful and helpful critiquers. Onward we go.


  1. I feel your pain, Jean. So often critiques are contradictory, and it can get maddening.

    I usually have to remind myself that a set of critiques is neither more nor less than the opinions of a group of readers. If you have a diverse group, then each will have their own preferences for pace and style and tolerance for backstory, description, and puzzlement (until things become clear in the fullness of time.) And you will never please them all, so you'd drive yourself mad trying!

    The best advice I ever read about handling critiques was to pay attention to things that seem to be consistent, and things that make sense to you. Never lose sight of the fact that it is your story, not theirs, and stay true to what pleases you in it.

    Of course, drink helps.

  2. Always take a critique with a grain of salt, or a sip of your drink. Keep the vision, and write what is truest to your vision.

  3. Thanks guys. :) Crits aren't usually that hard for me to take, but I've never had them so all over the chart before. Then again, I've never tried to write a sequel before.

    I shall mull things over, enjoy my drink, keep my favorite bits and see what I can work in around them when I'm ready to dive into edits.


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