Well, we had it all this week: late submissions, tight deadline stress, reading from the wrong draft, leaving printouts on the printer, lateness, headaches, and lack of sitters!
These are all things that happen. We push on, we continue to strive, we reach ever onwards and upwards – we leave the stress and torture (usually self-torture) of daily failings to the ether and forge on with the worlds we create with words.
Our first critique was from the realms of steam-punk/gas-lamp, which is preparing for publication (in May!). We went deep, we went as hard as we could – but we always remember, it is the author who has last say, regardless of our (well-meaning) comments and critiques. We may be there to assist, to be another pair of eyes, an alpha or beta reader who provides feedback – we are not the author.
This item is showing/teaching us in ways we did not expect: how to use less to create more (especially tension and suspense); how to name names (consistency with a dash of chameleon) that flow into that tension/suspense; how to segue (flow) from one piece of scene/setting to the next without losing the dance step; and how to listen to comments without (too much) pain.
The next piece was short, murderous (yes, really) and the purpose was to focus tightly on staying ‘in character’ for the whole piece: no authorial intrusion into the characters head, no over-controlling director, no slipping, and no head hopping ( all of which are much easier with a one page submission). Now to keep it up for the whole MS.
The third piece was new world planetary Sci-Fi (think Dr Who). It was well-written, with good flow, good characters, good focus, good world-building (the independent mind of flora). Not perfect, but great potential – isn’t that what story is all about? We have come from a history of writing an introductory moment that leads us into the characters – is this how it should be done? Or should we always start with character and build the world from character? The choice belongs to the author, but author must always remember that reader may skip out of the story very quickly (sometimes after reading only the first line), so the first words must jab the reader in the eye, hook them to the next word, and the next ….
And that’s what we will do – sink our words into the soft flesh of the reader, drawing blood, inciting passion, breeding compulsion to turn the next page!
Next meeting (first Friday) is Show, Don’t Tell.