Tag Archives: Critique Partners

NaNo: Reflecting on Collaborating

21 Nov

Yesterday, Carolyn and I had a brainstorm session. For those of you don’t know Carolyn is my fabulous critique partner/friend/co-author of my NaNo novel this year. Any-who, we decided this past week that our NaNo novel (That which we are referring to as ABLAZE) needed some serious back story/plotting help and so we drove over to our local library. Which by the way has awesome coffee seating area on the second floor. With extremely comfy very, java/hipster-esque chairs.

Carolyn & I looking a bit too smiley

And can I just say that writing a novel with one of your best friends is possibly one of the FUNNEST EXPERIENCES I’VE EVER HAD! Seriously, Carolyn and I are very much on the same page. Plotting with another person (one with awesome tastes in books) is a lot like discussing an insanely awesome already written book.

I swear to you there were ideas flying left and right. As soon as I had something to say, she had another thing to add-on or, another way of looking at it that was just as amazing (if not more so). And… yeah I’d like to think it went both ways. Haha!

I was really nervous about doing a collaboration novel, just because I was scared that I would lose control. Or that the novel would turn into something I didn’t like, or I didn’t feel like it was something I would pick myself. And some of the stuff isn’t. It isn’t stuff I would have thought of. But it’s good. It’s damn good! *pardon my french* But, the thing is, is that this novel is my project, it is both of us. Honestly, I think a lot of what has made this work out so far is that Carolyn and I have known each other all our lives, (so we are kind of in sync) and also that we have very similar tastes in books, and music.  I guess you could say that blending our two styles, and ideas was a lot easier because of that.

I really think that collaborating (thus far) has been a really positive experience for me as a writer. I have always liked bouncing my ideas off others, and being able to have constant streams of ideas going in and out, has really allowed me to focus on the structure of my writing, and less on the details.

It seems a lot easier for me to talk through my ideas first, and yesterday at the library we were just ON FIRE. (haha you know what I’m talking about Carolyn 🙂) I’m feeling really good about our novel, even if we are a little behind on word count, I definitely think we’ll finish up this draft and cont’ to work on it in the future.

I just wanted to let you all know what was going on. How is NaNo, or just November treating you all?

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Will We Work?- Critique Relationships

16 Nov

Some people are just difficult. There is no way of getting around it.Through out our lives, we all have to work with people we’d rather push into the mall fountain, but fortunately that isn’t so with Critique Relationships. You have complete control over who you work with, how the relationship will go, and for how long.

But, how do you know if you should work with a writer? How do you know if it will be a good match for you?

That is what we’ll be addressing here.

You see, I’ve critiqued quite a few manuscripts thus far in my life (a very hefty volume if you compare it to my age), and I’ve discovered a couple of ways to avoid getting involved with writers who you’d rather see all soggy in some seriously penny tainted water.

My friend Gabby over at her amazing BLOG (that you should go check out if you have not yet!) had some issues with this recently and it got me thinking that I should share what I know, and so here it is.

First off, let me say that critique relationships are a lot like friend relationships in person. You are not going to become friends with someone you know nothing about, so before you consider critiquing someones work, check them out. Follow their blog, send some emails, talk on Skype. develop a base relationship! This will let you know if your personalities are compatible. Even though, critiquing someones work doesn’t require you to be E-harmony soul mates, it does require a certain level of common ground. After all, it’s a lot easier to take criticism from someone you like than from someone you know nothing about, or worse, don’t like at all. This makes the relationship flow a lot smoother both ways. They like you, you like them!

So, you are acquainted , great! The next step is to look at their writing. ask for the synopsis of their novel that you’ll be looking at. Not only will the actual writing tell you a lot about the person’s skill level, and show you if they know their way around a keyboard,(i.e. if they have issues with grammar, or just generally don’t have a grip on craft). but it will tell you a lot about the person themselves.

If the person acts professional, and sends the email promptly with a polite response, you can pretty much assume that the rest of the critique relationship will be a happy professional experience. professionalism is definitely something you want to look for in a person you’ll be critiquing, as these people will be the ones who take criticism well, and try to apply it as best they can instead of making excuses, and generally being un-accepting of any critique you give.

What i’m saying is that if you get an email that looks like this:

Hiiii!!!

Im supr exxcited to do this myy novel is awesome and here is the synopsis it be in the attach file up thr. I hpe you like it lotzz!

Suzay

END IT THERE.

Okay, you now have their synopsis, and you are feeling pretty good. You like the premise, and the person seems professional and nice.By this point, if red lights are going to be flashing they would, but I have one more thing I do before fully committing to the relationship. I have them send me their, novel, but tell them that I will send them the first edited chapter within in 2-7 days, and that they can look over it. If there are any issues, and things just aren’t working, I make it clear that we can end the relationship there, no hard feelings. This not only gives you a chance to look over what you will actually be working with, but it also gives the author a chance to give you a pass/fail and helps them to feel comfortable with you working on their piece.

These are just my tips for working with others. Anybody have critique relationship troubles before? Have any tips that have helped you out?

PS: Sister’s Red review should be up by tomorrow night.

NaNo 3 Tips on Day 3

3 Nov

NaNo has begun, and it’s been going great for me 🙂 As you all know I’m doing a collaboration novel with my critique partner Carolyn (something I’ve never even dreamed of attempting) and am loving it!

we’ve set it up so that we each do a chapter/section every other day (meeting the word count) and then send it back to the other via email. It’s working out really well, and having somebody else depending on your pages forces you to write!

Sadly not everybody has that to motivate them to write and so for you single NaNo goers I’ve decided to hand out my top three NaNo tips:

1) Get ahead on your word count. No, seriously, don’t look at me like I have three heads. I realize you already have to write over 1,600 words a day. What I recommend is just writing an extra two or three hundred words. I know that doesn’t seem like much but after a few days those will add up, so if you miss a day you won’t be behind. look at it this way, if you write an extra three hundred words for the first week that gives you an extra 2,100 words! That leaves you getting done a day and hale early, do that every day and you could be done four even five days early!

2) Don’t skip writing. Just because you apply point number one, and happen to have an extra 4,000 words in week two does NOT mean you can skip a day. This is the fastest way to lose NaNo. Believe me, I know. If you decide to take a break one day, you will give yourself a second day. NaNo is all about consistancy. Don’t get yourself out of that mind set, or you will most likely be doomed to fail. (I know what your thinking…. ‘she has to be fun at parties‘)

3)Delete your Internet short cut. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying ‘there’s many a slip twixt the cup and lip’. Well, during NaNo it is more like, ‘there  is many a web page between You and WORD’. It’s easy to just click on your browser when booting up the computer to start writing. A fleeting whim to Google, or check your email will often pass your mind when things get sticky in Microsoft, and that page is looking awful, or when you just don’t want to write. Deleting your browser shortcut makes it harder to answer that impulse. If you delete  the shortcut you have to go through the start menu and programs just to boot up the internet. It will seem much less appealing then. I SWEAR it will not kill you to do this! It’s a small thing, but you will get a lot more done. And, you can always go back after November.

Those were my tips for the day! How is November (NaNo or not going for you all?)

Don’t Deliver Half-Baked Pizza

19 Sep

When your writing a novel its easy to get ahead of yourself. Especially when you have eager betas, and friends. People who want to read said novel. But, you don’t want to give them a half baked pizza to look over.

What am I saying here? I’m saying that your novel needs to be done to your complete satisfaction before you hand it over to betPizzaas. You don’t hand it over to betas because you don’t want to write another draft, or because they’re begging to read draft three instead of waiting for draft four. Just like you don’t deliver a half baked pizza because the customer is hungry or because your too lazy to finish making it.

The Pizza has to be finished. You only want to hand it over to friends/betas when you are completely sure that you have done all you personally can do to make it better. Even if that means breaking a few promises.

I for instance have been promising “The Shadows That Fell” to a few betas by December, but if I’m not happy with the manuscript in December (0r happy enough to not redraft without feedback) then the manuscript simply won’t be sent out.

I know that not sending it our will surely disappoint someone, but its better than them be disappointed by the actual writing. You want your betas to say “hey I had to wait a little while longer, but man that was good!” rather than “Gosh it was on time, but that was about all it had going for it!”

In other words don’t half bake manuscripts for your betas!