or groups can be a writer's valuable asset, but what happens when your time is short or
you lose your partner? Laying aside your story in progress for a period of time gives you a
new perspective and a fresh approach.
How long is a
period of time?
on time available..
would be months or at least weeks. Put aside the story and 1) Write several
articles, short stories, or blog posts
2) Plot out a new manuscript 3) Rewrite another rough draft 4) Brainstorm new
ideas for stories 5) Write a brand new rough draft 6) Do final edits on a story
If you don’t have weeks or months, aim for
days. 1) Attend a conference or workshop 2) Take a vacation 3) Write one or two
short pieces 4) Do a major housecleaning or closet redo 5) Take a temporary job
or get involved in a volunteer opportunity.
a deadline is looming and you have mere hours? 1) Take a walk outdoors 2) Go
for a couple hours of shopping and try on clothes 3)Watch a movie 4) Meet a friend for lunch or a coke 5)
Have a heart to heart talk with a loved one.
Do you get the idea? Take a break from that story. Move your
thinking away from it. Allow a short period of time when your mind dwells on
something besides that story.
Now, you’re ready to go back over it for a critique.
Use the same techniques that you use to critique someone
else’s work. Here’s a possible ten things to remember.
- Don’t dwell on the negative. Point out
what you like about the writing or story and bask in the warm glow of confidence.
the first sentence or two make you want to read more? Does the beginning set the tone of
book and keep that tone until the end?
the ending satisfy you and tie up all loose ends?
- Do you
lose interest about chapter 4-7, or does your interest continue to peak?
Check for plot points and the black moment. Could you eliminate or add
characters? Does it flow? Is the pace appropriate for each scene?
for passive words. Do you have lots of action verbs? Can you turn
sentences around to make them active? Circle the words was, were, have,
had, to be, being. Is there some of them you can eliminate?
Examples: Before: Lacey’s body was
After: Tension gripped Lacey’s body.
Before: Shelley’s head was hot
from the sun beaming on it.
After: Sunbeams heated
Look through your manuscript for
such examples you might improve.
there a portion of your story that you summarized which should be a
real-time scene? What about the reverse? Is there a real-time scene that you
might summarize to avoid lagging interest? Is there any scene that doesn’t
further the story or the characterization. If so, eliminate it.
- Do a
find for words that you use too often and get rid of them? I seem
to love just so often have to
delete it. What about at least, more
often, really, a lot?” What about a really good word that adds to your
story like captivate? Use only once, or it ceases to carry power
Examples: Before: She just loved
After: She loved the mall. – This means the same
without the extra word,.
You might use the extra word as part of your
to love them, or hate them, but most experts say delete them.
Examples: Before: I’m very excited
to be here.
After: I’m excited to be here.
off the adverb and it means the same thing.
it would be better to turn it around and make it active.
doubled me over with stomach butterflies.
every portion of dialogue needed? Does it further the story? Does it tell
about the character? Does each character's dialogue sound different? Does body language replace words?
Examples: “Hey, Lace, stop it. You’re a gorgeous
“I’m old, overweight, and
overwhelmed. That’s what I am and that's what I'll stay because I'm weak-willed and a pushover..”
Did I succeed
at sounding like three different characters without dialogue tags or beats?
That’s our challenge.
. 9. Check
for point of view problems. Look through one person's eyes only. We can know their
thoughts, what they see, what they smell, but we can't know anyone else's view.
Check for show, don't tell problems. This gets many of us.
I can't just tell you Victoria hates living in the country.
I must show chickens pecking her legs, and the sun burning her face. Her thoughts
must reveal the loneliness she feels without a friend..
you introduce too many characters in the beginning and confuse the reader?
Start with no
more than three named characters if possible. A good way
then to introduce other characters is
to let us learn about them from the
original characters before introducing them.
Read your story out loud and look for anything that makes
you stop, pause, or try to understand. Instead, keep the reader plowing through
your words not being able to stop even at the chapter breaks.
Use a critique partner if you can. If not, be your own.
Janet K. Brown lives in Wichita Falls, Texas and loves to
write, visit with grandkids, and travel with her husband in their RV. 4RV Publishing released her debut novel, Victoria and the Ghost, an inspirational
YA in 2012. The example in number nine above comes from that book. Visit with Janet at her website/blog: http://www.janetkbrown.com