So after a stint at City Lit in Holborn, doing an amazing course for ‘Writing for children’, the fact that I got to meet some brilliant people I would now consider to be friends, was such a bonus!
No one including myself wanted the course to end, it was inclusive, fun and never shy to talk about the reality of the business, which as we are all well aware can be pretty tough. Having said that, I believe no matter what the profession, if you’re good at what you do, it’ll always make room for a good piece of story telling.
Last Friday our group decided to hook up in Tottenham crt road, with the hopes of getting a bevvy down the hatch, to help loosen our tongues -and of course take the gawd awful edge off a busy week. But alas, our local hole was way too crowded to get all deep and meaningful, so we opted for the BFI up the road instead.
After a brief catch up, we began, and I decided to jump in first.
Now I don’t know about you writers/illustrators but I have lots of stuff on the back burner, pages full of ideas, and then I have that completed stuff which needs to be whipped into shape with fresh eyes. The piece that I shared I’d been working on for about 3 years, my sisters are the only people who have had the privilege to read my madness- a middle grade book. Anyhow, I’m please to say it had a fairly good response, and I was inspired to go home, toss it around taking the notes I thought relevant, and put my head down.
So what’s good about having this kind of critique and what isn’t, let’s break it down shall we….
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Having someone else read your work- not in anyway like when you read it out aloud, in your undies on a Sunday afternoon- will help to expose the pitfalls, and the gaps perhaps you hadn’t heard before.
It exposes the pitfalls, and the gaps perhaps you hadn’t heard before.
Hearing others critique things that you loooove in your manuscript, which some think shouldn’t be there, can be a useful way to get to the heart of your story, gauging out the fluff and boring exposition.
Your Darlings may have to be killed Noooooooo!
An imput of ideas about how to constructively tackle the next step, could be well worth your while, especially as it could save you a lot in procrastination time, enabling you to crack on and WRITE.
Criticism however it’s laid out should be constructive, but it can leave you in a bit of a funk-and you may even well up with what’s being thrown at you, so be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.
My critique group, did a great job of being as constructive as possible, it was however our first one and I’m sure the more knowledge we gain, the better we’ll get at it.
Although we all have respect for each other, I’m sure it’ll definitely get a little more hard hitting, but I think it needs to be. I’ve shared work on two other occasions with this group, the first went great, the second was ABYSMAL- my fault, I shared a 1st draft, shoddy, miss mash piece- heads up-be able to take a bollocking if you decide to head in that direction, whereas the third was very, very helpful.
I’ve found even as the newbie at all of this, you must be ready for a inevitable fall, with a quick back up to the feet kind of attitude; having a good handle on your ‘story’ is also important, as it’s ultimately your decision whether things stay or go, and you may have to make some tough decisions.
And last but not least….
You learn to Listen.
You learn to listen, which means you have to hear what’s being said, which means you may NOT like what you’re being told.
But look at it this way, it can only make you a stronger writer, either that or a better decision maker, and surely that can’t be a bad thing, to becoming better at sitting at your lap top, progressing by -sitting at your lap top, because you have to show at next weeks critique group, because yes you guessed it, you sat at your lap top and got **** done.
Here are some other fab posts on Critique groups, I thought you might like to get your teeth into, all with invaluable information on the subject:
‘When critique group goes wrong’ By Janice Hardy
‘Can critique groups do more harm than good?’ By Kristen Lamb
‘The Pros and Cons of critique groups’ By Donna Cook
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