Sunday, January 21, 2018

Editor vs. Anxiety

Of all the stages in creating a story, editing gets a lot of mixed opinions. Writers either like it, or they don’t. Many even complain about editing. But I’m one of those strange writers who likes the editing process the best. Brainstorming is fun, sure, but I quickly get bored with it and just want to write. Then writing a rough draft can be fun, especially when I’m in the zone, but half the time I am consciously aware that my style or my dialogue or whatever stinks.

Editing allows me to combine the elements I enjoy most—writing through rewrites and clear prose. When I see something wrong with a story, I sit down, or pace, or go for a bike ride, then fix it. Sometimes it’s a challenge, but that’s what makes it all the more enjoyable. I like it when something, particularly a story, challenges me. Life would be too boring otherwise.

But every now and then, life gets difficult. That’s just the way it is. Sometimes, the stress threatens to overwhelm me. Often times, dealing with stress is not so easy as cutting down a word count or fixing some character development. It’s much, much more difficult.


Nearly two years ago, I missed the opportunity to celebrate my brother’s birthday with him because I was studying in England while he was studying in the United States. I went to fencing that particular February evening without my usual enthusiasm to stab things. (When it comes to sports or reading or whatever, I’m either all in or I don’t care. As a result, I scared all my fellow beginners.) That particular day, I lacked motivation and form. As a result, I strained my Achilles tendon and spent the next month limping everywhere.

On another bad day, I was moping in my room about my inability to walk without pain (but I could still bike just fine). So I put on a movie to try to take my mind off myself. Of course, I picked a particularly sad one and had a good cry. Finally, some pity that wasn’t self-pity. I can’t exactly say that was the exact moment, but I soon realized I needed help, and not just for my ankle. Over Easter Break, I learned that I was struggling with depression and anxiety and sought help.

Flash forward to last January. My dad took me on trip to go skiing in the Black Forest per my request. The snow blanketed the evergreen trees, and sometimes enveloped me in a white out so I could hardly see more than ten feet in front of me. When I first got off the ski lift and surveyed the slope from the top, the clouds cleared enough for me to catch a glimpse of a golden sun amid all the white.

But what if I lost control of my skis, flew down the mountain, and slammed into a tree?

My breath caught. And I froze.

I started hyperventilating, and my yellow glasses fogged up. (Never wear yellow glasses skiing, by the way. The snow kept blowing under the glassing and getting into my eyes. Go with ski goggles.) My dad, who was just a bit further down the slope, turned back to me and said, “Come on, Azelyn. You can’t stand there forever.”

Of course, not. I came there to ski, not have a panic attack on the top of a mountain. So I swallowed my fear, angled my skis downhill, and inched down the slope, bit by bit. It was painstaking work, and I took a break in the ski lodge before noon to settle my nerves with a cup of tea and copy of Moby-Dick that fit in my pocket. After lunch, I had enough courage to follow Dad at an adequate speed down some more challenging slopes.


I never ran into a tree or went flying down a slope, but I fell down. A lot.

Of course, some panic attacks are easier to get past than others. Physical situations, like standing atop a ski slope are easier for me to overcome than social anxiety. With an encouraging word from my dad, I can work up the courage to overcome my fear of heights, but encouragement doesn’t always help with my fear of people.

Last summer, I had a panic attack when somebody mentioned I should behave with more assertion, “like I did in England.” Sure, I may have learned how to talk to my professors by preparing questions about the text before class. But I had a terrible time making friends, and I hardly ever talked to my classmates.

It is one thing to say, “No, I can do this.” And ski down a mountain even though the fear is lurking in the forefront of my mind. It’s another thing entirely to have the fear of the inability to befriend people constantly lurking in my mind.

No matter how many friends I do or don’t make where I currently live, no matter how many half-decent conversations I manage to hold, no matter how many patrons I help while I’m volunteering at the library, I can’t change the friends who stopped talking for no reason.

I can’t change the way I didn’t hang out with my peers after fencing and went straight back to my room.

I can’t go back to England for the same studying experience.

But I can take advantage of opportunities today.

I can be genuine and kind to the people I meet now.

Recently, I was attending the writer’s group at my local library where I met a fellow writer who was querying literary agents. So we got to talking about our stories, and I asked him if he had an editor look over his novel yet. He said he hadn’t, so we exchanged contact information, and I said I could put him in touch with some editors I knew.

Then I got to thinking—I’m an editor. I’ve worked on books of my own before, studied literature, worked as an editor for my school’s newspaper, taught English, and worked with professional editors. Why not offer to edit the book myself? I wanted to go into editing eventually. Why not today?

So I sent him an e-mail offering to edit his novel myself, and we set up a meeting to discuss a contract. Since then, I’ve finished my first round of edits and set up an editing page for other writers looking for an editor. My specialties include Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction with select Adult Fiction, and my preferred genres include fantasy, science-fiction, historical fiction, and contemporary. Looking for an editor? Be sure to stop by if you think your story would be a good fit!


Editing isn’t just a way for me to make money. It’s a pleasure. It’s a way for me to deal with stress. It’s a God-given gift, a way for me to deal with something in a life where some things can’t be fixed so easily.

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I had a panic attack. Maybe it was six months ago. I don’t know. I don’t care either. But I would be lying if I said anxiety doesn’t affect me. Sometimes it does. But I can’t let my anxiety, whether social or otherwise, rule me.

Sometimes life is like reading a book, you have to take chances if you want to get anywhere. So start today. Take a chance. You may fail. And that’s okay. Failure is fine.

But what if you succeed? You may surprise yourself.

Let’s chat! Any fellow readers out there who struggle with anxiety? Remember, you’re not alone.

***

Sunday, January 14, 2018

2018 Reading Resolution

Let’s talk about books! Last year I set my goal on Goodreads to read at least 75. Halfway through the year, I realized I was reading too fast and upped my goal to 100. I ended up reading 109. Whoops. So I accidentally completed one of the goals on my bucket list in reading 100 books in one year.

This year, instead of challenging myself further, I’m actually going to cut back. That’s not to say I won’t read a ton, but the pressure to read 75+ books is actually incredibly overwhelming. That’s at least a book-and-a-half a week, and once you set the goal to 100, that’s a book nearly every three days. While possible, I want to set aside time for those difficult (*cough* boring *cough*) books.

So instead of a goal involving the number of books, I’ll be setting a goal involving the type of books I want to read. Then I’ll take those types, add them up, and set it as my goal on Goodreads because I like seeing the book collection and statistics at the end of the year.


1) At least one poetry collection. (Not a novel in verse.)


A while back, I wrote a post on The Importance of Poetry. It wasn’t until college that I really discovered the joys of reading and writing poems because before then, I hadn’t found any that I particularly liked. Since then, I have been making an effort to create more poetry, as is evidence from the whole page I have on poetry and my monthly poems.

Last year, I finished a short collection, Ode to London and started reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. I can’t say I actually finished the latter, but it’s still on my shelf, waiting for me.


2) Two rereads.


I enjoy visiting my local library, but I also like buying books. If a particular story stuck with me, or was indie published and I wanted to support the author, I’ll go out and buy the book. That and I just like books. But what’s the pointing in owning a bunch of books I once enjoyed, only to never read them again? There’s no point.

It’s time to endeavor to read books I’ve enjoyed so much that I went out and bought a copy. Just a couple I’m currently eyeing include Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire. I know I just read them a couple summers ago, but they’re sooooo good!



3) Three nonfiction books.


My brother isn’t much of a reader, but when he does read, he sure shows me up on reading nonfiction. While I insist on reading about dragons and con artists because I find them interesting, my brother would pick up books on wherever we’d be traveling next so he could give an accurate report on his vlog. I may not read the same types of books, but I don’t just want to read fiction.

For this goal, I will not be counting poetry or plays, even though they’re sorted with the nonfiction section at the library. No, I’ll be looking for something more along the lines of a biography or a how-to. Just a couple books on my To-Be-Read List include The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, and The Art of War.


4) Four classics. (Hey, I’m sensing a pattern!)


Books written within the last 100 years are fun to read, but classics can be too, even though some have been written within the last 100 years. (Can we just establish what a classic is, exactly? I’ve been wondering about this definition for years. What determines if a book is a classic or not? Perhaps another post for another time.)

Sometimes I’m baffled by the types of books that became classics. I didn’t care for The Great Gatsby. And I still don’t understand what is going on in The Sound and the Fury. Honestly, I don’t understand most American literature. English literature all the way! I may or may not be biased…

That being said, many times, classics tend to surprise me. I go into the book usually knowing nothing about it, and there I find a wonderful story.


5) Five indie-published books.


As an indie author myself, I figure it’s only fair to read what other indie authors have written. And some of those books can be amazing, let’s be honest. My favorite indie-published book I read last year being Where the Woods Grow Wild by Nate Philbrick. The narrative swept me away, and I forgot that I was even reading so I finished the book in two days.

A couple indie books I am particularly looking forward to include The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz and Embassy by S. Alex Martin.


6) One book published before 1800. (Die, pattern!)


Yes, I realize 1800 is a very specific date. But most of the books I’ve been reading since I’ve graduated from grad school are recent releases. The latest books are important, I won’t deny it, especially for those interesting in publishing. It’s good to know the latest trends. But the old books are important too. They laid the groundwork for fiction as we know it today. It would be a shame to ignore them.

I’m currently trying to work up the courage to check out Le Morte d’Arthur. I wrote an essay on the first book when I was studying for my MA, and I checked out like, four different copies and decided to bike with them all AT ONCE. Never again. Le Morte MY ARMS.


7) One book over 1,000 pages long.


Cutting back on my ambitions, am I? Hmm, maybe not.

I thoroughly enjoy long books. There’s nothing like sitting down with a volume you have to hold in two hands (or rest it on an armrest/table?) and hope it doesn’t fall on your face when you’re lying on your back. That and I like the idea that a good book will last longer than a week.

In 2016, it took me eight days to read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1,006 pages). Yes, I know I’m insane. But 100 pages a day is pretty manageable. Last year, it took me two-and-a-half months to finish Les Miserables (1,232 pages). How long do you think it will take me to finish War and Peace at approximately 1,392 pages?


In total, my goal this year is to read 17 books. Sure, I’ll probably read more. But this year, I want to focus on the type of books I want to read instead of the number. Quality over quantity.

Let’s chat! Do you have any bookish New Year’s resolutions? What’s your goal for reading this year? Are there any book types you want to read more of?

***



Literary references: Ode to London edited by Jane McMorland Hunter, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, John Donavan’s In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Nathan PhilbrickWhere the Woods Grow WildKyle Robert Shultzs The Beast of TalesendS. Alex Martins Embassy, Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, Susannah Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, and Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Poem: Silent Words

I’ve always been more of a thinker than a talker, an introvert than an extrovert. But despite all this, there are times I long to speak and converse, to share a story with somebody and to make somebody feel as deeply as I do. Maybe it’s not always possible, but it’s a dream, nonetheless.

It’s one of my jokes that, in my family, my siblings use up my word quota. On a given day, I say maybe a hundred words to their six or seven thousand. (So what if I’m being a little dramatic? No, I don’t actually go around counting people’s words!) But when it comes to writing, I can use thousands of words at once. Writing is my means of expression.

But in a digital world where there are hundreds of writers across the globe, sometimes it feels like I’m writing to the void, the nameless statistics on the internet. No, this isn’t a criticism to you, my dear reader. It’s merely a self-reflection. Often times, I put too much emphasis on wanting to be heard instead of the act of creating itself. This poem is a reflection of the act of creation, of feelings of loneliness, of telling a story, and ultimately, of letting go of self-conceit.


Silent Words

I step out into the night,
toes sinking in a bed of moss,
arms chilled by the moisture hanging in the air,
cradling my words in my hands.

I brought you a symphony—
the music to your eyes,
as the pages flood with letters
and emotions swirl like grains of sand in a full moon tide.
So close your eyes, close your eyes.
Let me tell a story of words that never die.

I wove my words with cobwebs,
strung them up with 550 cord,
and pricked my fingers with a pen.
Though even this novel’s not all that I have,
it tugs like a tether,
it drags like an anchor.
I hold tight, yet I long for the day,
when a whisper will say—
it’s time to let go.

But even the crickets have gone away,
to sing another day,
and the half-drowsed bullfrog
utters a croak.
Would that he weren’t the only one
that spoke.

But the world’s not empty,
though my words ring hollow
in the night.

My only audience—
the bullfrog, the waning moon,
the sliver of my heart
that bounds like a sprite
at some whisper, some word—
hold on one more day—
it’s going to be all right.

***

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite poem from 2017!

Create your own user feedback survey

Let’s chat! What is one of your means of expression? Do you ever feel like you’re speaking to the void? What’s one of the ways you deal with loneliness?

Similar poems: Starlight, The Muse, and Lost as a Leaf

Sunday, December 31, 2017

POV in the Last of the Memory Keepers Series

I can’t believe it’s the end of 2017 already! At the beginning of this year, I set out on a self-publishing journey. In March, I published the first of my novelettes in e-book form, then in September, I released the entire Last of the Memory Keepers series in print. What fun this has been!



*

For fans of The Chronicles of Narnia and Paradise Lost, Last of the Memory Keepers is a compilation of six sequential stories and one poem. Follow Rhona Farlane and Ellard Coburn on their adventures to befriend members of other races while they fight to save their own. 

Today I’ll be discussing the point of view (POV) in the series and the way I strove to resolve any issues that arose with writing in first person. For those who have not read my series yet, I have done my best to keep this post spoiler-free.

*Winners for the giveaway have been selected.

Dual Perspective


The first novelette in the series, “The Diplomat’s Daughter”, is told from the perspective of Rhona Farlane. She’s knows what she wants out of life and she’s spunky, perhaps a little too much so for a diplomat-in-training. But she’s determined to follow her apprenticeship through to the end and unite the peoples of her world.

Notice Rhona’s detailed enthusiasm in the following excerpt:

“Spring of the year 4137, Finley proposed his most wonderful, foolhardy idea yet. Even at twenty years old, he was coming up with reckless ideas that would probably get us killed. Naturally, I supported his idea and Ellard protested. But not much. Not this time. Even as the pitch black of night in the stable shrouded his face, I could just hear the smile behind his tense voice.”

—Rhona Farlane, “The Diplomat’s Daughter” (LMK, vol. 1)

The second novelette, “The Quiet Apprentice”, takes a different approach, told from the perspective of her friend Ellard Coburn. Like Rhona, he’s an apprentice to one of the masters of the Memory Keepers, but unlike her, he’s skittish and gets along better with animals than with people.

Now compare that scene with Ellard’s confusion when his friends keep interrupting his study session:

“Finley held his hands up, then looked at me. ‘Ellard, can you please help me change the subject?’

“I couldn’t think of a single interesting thing to say. I was still trying to wrap my mind around their disagreement. Leave it up to a Memory Restorer [Finley] to argue about the color of a historical figure’s clothes. I couldn’t even remember who Zaire was, much less what he’d done.”

—Ellard Coburn, “The Quiet Apprentice” (LMK, vol. 2)

When it came to writing each perspective, Rhona’s and Ellard’s, I had to take their backgrounds into consideration. Rhona was raised by a diplomat, the Master of Deep Memory, and Ellard was raised by a stable hand and a horse trainer. Rhona comes from a privileged family of intellectuals, and Ellard comes from a more rural background who had to work harder to earn his apprenticeship.


A Verbal Account


The main issue I had with writing these stories arose because I decided to go with first person. After all, how was I supposed to tell the narrative from the perspective of characters who don’t write their history down? At one point, there’s even mention of Ellard, my second protagonist, being illiterate. So how is somebody who can’t even read supposed to write a story?

To resolve this issue, I went with a verbal account instead of a written one. Because the Memory Keepers have the ability to access the memories of the trees, they keep their records by speaking to the trees, like one would write their thoughts in a diary or recite their memories to a starship’s log in science fiction. As a result, I read each story aloud to my sister to ensure it flowed well and actually sounded like people might talk.

“The Quite Apprentice” (LMK, vol. 2) explores the concept of recording memories more so than the first story. At the end of the novelette (don’t worry, this is not a spoiler!), Ellard explains that he’s storing his memories in an oak tree. And in the final volume, a certain character reveals that he listened to each verbal account and wrote them down for public record.

The Problems with Memory


Memory can be fleeting. Sometimes, people ignore certain details or remember others incorrectly. Sometimes people forget things. And as alluded to in “The Memory Thief,” some people are made to forget.

Last of the Memory Keepers isn’t just a recitation of adventures written down by a scribe. Like some works of fiction, it’s the narrators who are putting together the pieces of their stories after they are resolved. Sometimes the stories may be an exaggeration or a reflection of the past. Sometimes they leave you wondering what’s real and what’s not.

Any mistakes are my own, or you can blame it on the troubles with memory. Most of all, this series—this book—is just a story. I hope you enjoy it.


Giveaway Time!



And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! So I’ve been hosting a lot of giveaways this month, but I can’t help it. I like my readers! Today I’ll be giving away two prizes: 1) a signed copy in print and a desert rose; 2) the entire e-book series (Volumes 1-6). Enter to win one of two prizes below:


Let’s chat! Which prize sounds more appealing to you? Have you added Last of the Memory Keepers to your To-Be-Read List yet? For those who have read the first two volumes, whose perspective did you enjoy the most: Rhona’s or Ellard’s? If you haven’t read any volumes yet, which character sounds most appealing?

***

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Guest Post, Character Types: The Twins by Sarah Fluegel

Welcome to the latest post on Character Types in fiction. Today, I’m featuring a post by a guest writer and a dear friend of mine. Please welcome Sarah Fluegel as she writes about twins and their common tropes in fiction!



There’s something about twins that’s naturally intriguing to people—something about their similarities and the way they act around their twin draws people in. A lot of this curiosity and interest overflows into books and media. Whether they are identical or fraternal, the same or different genders, the interest exists whenever twins appear in a story. The thing is, though, that just like any other character, twins can fall into common tropes. They can even become a trope themselves. Though interesting to read, these common tropes can become boring for viewers or readers but oh so easy for the writer to fall into.


The first trope that often goes along with twins is the overly identical trope; this is when characters go beyond being biologically identical. This is creepy identical, like the twins from The Shining identical. They look, dress, talk, and act exactly the same. They’re so similar that they might as well be the same person.

Twins who fall in to the overly identical trope are left with out much character development and gain most of their interest from the fact that they are twins. Tim and Jim from Kim Possible act almost exactly alike, and the only thing that really separates them is the color of their shirt. Padma and Parvati, like Fred and George in the Harry Potter movies, are even sorted in to the same house and dress in nearly the same dress for the Yule ball.

The problem that happens when authors take identical twins to the extreme is that they loose opportunity to develop character for each individual person. Not that any of the authors did a horrible job of writing their characters, but it also goes to show how easily this trope can be fallen into.



The second trope that pops up a lot in media is the polar opposite twins. They may look alike, but their personalities are night and day. This can be a good thing, but like the identical trope, it can easily go wrong. This trope is where when one twin likes something or does something really well, and the other likes or does the complete opposite. If one is artsy, then the other plays sports. If one can sing, the other is tone deaf. Or if one is suave and a romantic, you can bet the other one can barely even talk to the opposite sex.

In the Sweet life of Zack and Cody, Zach is the “cool”, athletic, ladies’ man while Cody is the nerdy, genius with no skills with the ladies. By playing into these stereotypes, writers can run the risk of flattening their characters. Instead of the rich characters that writers hope to create by creating opposite personalities for their twins, they can become one-dimensional. Their characteristics can become so reliant on the other person that it doesn’t allow the character to surprise you.

When you know that one twin is going to act a certain way and that the other twin will act in the opposite way, the plot and characters becomes too predictable. You lose a lot of what makes the characters seem real, that each person is unique, and their interest don’t always follow the status quo. Now all authors can fall into stereotyping, but it seems to happen more easily with twins because you have another character to use the “opposite” traits.

In the end of the major problems with twins is that authors often forget that they are not writing one character but two. In my own life, I’ve meet people who just don’t get that twins aren’t identical in everything. They each have their own brain and thoughts and experiences that are entirely separate from their “other half.”

Twins aren’t photocopies of each other and they also aren’t photo negatives of each other. There’s cross over in interests and in friends. There’s similarities in speech patterns and mannerisms. But they are each uniquely their own person.

George and Fred from Harry Potter are a good example of twins that are identical but still stand as their own person. Sure, they may look and act similar, but enough character development has gone into making them their own person.

There are also twins that have the polar opposite personality but still seem like twins. Dipper and Mabel from Gravity Falls are a good example of polar opposites who still seem like twins. Dipper is a smart and focused monster-hunter while Mabel is a sparkle-obsessed, joy filled ball of sunshine. Throughout the show, they display interest in the other twin’s passion and have a loyalty that can really only come from being a twin.

My favorite set of twins in media is Marvel’s Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. When you are first introduced, you don’t know they’re twins, partially because they are fraternal, partially due to good writing. They act like twins—truly they do—even though some audiences may disagree. They don’t wear similar colors or talk in the same way, but they have a loyalty and a connection that is something different than regular siblings have. It’s not that they are polar opposites or exactly the same, but they are people that just happen to be twins.

Which is how twins should be written, whether they are identical or fraternal—just as people who happen to have another person running around who either looks startling similar to themselves or simply shared a room since before they were born.

***

Meet the author:



Sarah Fluegel is an artist, English major, and art editor at her university’s literary magazine. She grew up with two older sisters who happen to be identical twins. When she’s not in class, she spends the rest of her time trying to keep her dragons from burning down her university.



Let’s chat! Be sure to give Sarah a warm welcome! Who are your favorite sets of twins in fiction? What are your (least) favorite twin tropes?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

7 Facts About Critique Partners (For Writers!)

So you think you’re ready to publish your story? Or maybe you’re not there yet. Maybe you’re just looking for an editor. Did you know even editors like the manuscript as polished as possible? (Deep down, we’re all lazy human beings…) Have you considered having a critique partner go over your story?

What is a critique partner, you might ask? Well, they’re usually fellow writers who can look at your story objectively. Not to be confused with editors or beta readers (who look over more polished drafts and have fewer responsibilities), critique partners have the mindset of a writer and are there to help you improve the structure and logic of your story. Here are just a couple of facts writers should know about critique partners, whether they’ve had them before and need a reminder or in case they’re considering taking some on.


1)      Critique partners do not have an initial emotional connection to your story.


For many writers, their story is like their child. Critique partners, usually other writers, are like teachers. If they don’t like one element of the story, many writers may take it as a personal attack. Please allow me to set something straight. Dear writer, your story is not a human being. You’re going to be okay even if somebody doesn’t like it.

Instead of treating critiques like a personal attack on your favorite pet, treat critiques like an editing exercise. Yes, it’s hard. No, I don’t have it mastered. When I’ve been getting critiques on my story, I often have to take a step back and remind myself it’s not a personal attack. It’s an exercise to build and improve my story. Sure, I vent to one or two of my writer friends if there’s a particular issue troubling me, but I can’t let it rule me.

Don’t let somebody’s critical comments rule you.

2)      Critique partners don’t like to read first drafts.


Nobody likes to read first drafts. Rough drafts are inconsistent word dumps. They’re messy. Why would you put somebody else through that?

Perhaps one of my favorite pieces of writing advice is to write your first draft just for you. Keep it secret. Keep it safe. Hone your story through at least one round of rewrites and edits. Then you can burn the original if you want.

You get back what you put in. If you don’t put a lot of effort into at least making your story readable, your critique partners aren’t going to put a lot effort into commenting let alone reading.

3)      Critiques are subjective.


Did you know, critique partners are human too? That means their word is not always law. Take what you need, leave what you don’t.

It’s like any book review. Take your top books for example. Maybe you gave it 5/5 stars, but you’ve seen a lot of 4/5-star and 3/5-star reviews, maybe even some 2/5 stars. It’s even more difficult when such a review comes from a friend or family member. How could they not obsess over the same book you do!?

Remember, everybody has their own opinions, likes, and dislikes. I don’t like romance, but that doesn’t mean all romance books are poorly written. They’re just not my preference.

So if you receive comments about how your critique partners didn’t like a certain element, it might be the reader.

4)      At least two critique partners are optimal.


A second opinion is great. A third opinion is better. Remember how I mentioned that critique partners are human too? Even they can miss things. Maybe your first partner is great at identifying character development and points out inconsistencies. But the second partner points out how you skipped over Sunday or that your protagonist hasn’t eaten in 48 hours.

Having more than two people look over your story can give you some well-rounded commentary.

But…


5)      More partners doesn’t always mean better.


Wait a second, didn’t I just claim at least two partners are good? True. But, if you have two or more people in a room, you’re going to have some disagreement. Try putting ten people in a room. Or twenty. Then ask them what they’re favorite color is and try to figure out why it’s not the same as yours. 



The same goes for your novel. You want to have as many well-rounded opinions as you can get, but you have to stop somewhere. The necessary number of critique partners can differ from story-to-story, but I would recommend two or three. After all…

6)      Critique partners might even disagree with each other.


Because I live in Europe, it’s hard to find fellow writers who speak English and have time to look over my stories. So I joined an online critique group, Critique Circle, where you can get feedback on your story and give feedback in return. And I was so excited for complete strangers to tell me what they thought. Until they started contradicting one another.

One reader would enjoy a particular chapter, saying they liked the description and the thought while another person would say they were bored. Wait, what? How was I supposed to make a story better if one person was happy with the chapter and another person was bored?

But such critiques were helpful. They taught me how to improve my story even more, identifying the weak bits and building on the strong ones.

I also learned that when two partners who tend to disagree with each other actually agree that something needs work, I better listen!

7)       In the end, it’s still your story they’re commenting on.


You can’t please everybody. While it’s important to consider others’ opinions to build and improve your story, it’s still your story. No story is perfect. So you might as well write the story for you. After all, who else is going to read it over and over again until they want to set it on fire? If you enjoy your story, you’re less likely to do so.

Remember why you started writing your story. Keep the essence if it’s important to you. Tell your story. The world is waiting to read it!

Let’s chat! Has your story been reviewed by any critique partners yet? How do you find them? Do you hunt them down in your local library and bribe them with chocolate or do you find them lurking in the woods?

Looking for a critique partner for your story? Look no more! Join a critique website or comment below if you want me to look over your story. Check out my Treasured Books page for a list of books I consider excellent. I look forward to hearing from you.

Write on!

***