The Under Ground Writing Project

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The Whole Shebang

Posted by Ali on October 26, 2012 at 2:15 AM

This Sunday is going to be a very interesting day. Back in August, I gave the group copies of a full novel draft and Sunday is the day they're going to critique it.

 

So, how do you do a full novel critique with a group of about a dozen critiquers? The answer: you chunk it. The plan is that each person has organized their feedback into a few key overall categories, like plot and characters. That way, hopefully, it'll be easier to spot the trends in feedback, i.e. character X is unlikeable and needs to be tweaked.

 

It also lets me as the writer get specific feedback. With this draft, one of the things I want to make sure works is the world building, so that's one of the areas I asked everyone to focus on.

 

On Sunday, we're going to do a round-robin and everyone is going to give me their key comments, one at a time. Then, we'll follow that with a more informal session where it'll be more conversational. I'll have a chance to ask everyone questions and they'll be able to talk back and forth with me and each other.

 

Oh yeah, and there will be a bathroom break somewhere in there. Also, I'm bringing cookies to bribe everyone into saying only nice things. Or, I mean, to show my appreciation for all of the time everyone has put into doing the critique.

 

Part of me is a bit nervous about Sunday, but more of me is excited. With a group this size, and such a diverse group, to boot, I know I'm going to get a lot of helpful feedback. It's also always interesting to see how, in such a diverse groups, consensus arises. It's always cool to me to see so many people pick out the same thing(s) that are or aren't working. It's like crowd-sourcing and it always churns up good stuff.

 

Going into this critique, there are a couple of things I anticipate coming up in the feedback. Some bits need help and I wasn't able to figure them out on my own. The part I can't anticipate is what will come up that I didn't expect. Sometimes, those are the must fun comments to get. As the writer, you're too close sometimes to see the things that are glaringly obvious to a reader. Then, as soon as a critiquer points it out, you want to do a forehead smack and say, "Duh!" Those moments are the moments where you're incredibly glad you have a critique group.

 

Well, I'd better get to work on more cookies tonight. They're not going to bake themselves.

Categories: Writing Groups, Books, Revision/Rewriting

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1 Comment

Reply Sandra Martin
12:00 AM on October 27, 2012 
I am glad you are looking forward to Sunday. I think the group-critique is a great forum for improving writing skills. I am looking forward to the meeting and hearing what everybody else has to say. I am also looking forward to the cookies, but gotta tell you I don't need a bribe to say nice things.

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