One of the things I love about having a writer’s critique group is the learning opportunities it provides. I learn by reading the work of my CPs, through them critiquing my work, and through critiquing them. I’ll be the first to admit some of the things they suggest to help me strengthen my work are things I already know. Every now and then I’ll let a passive sentence slip by when it can easily be converted to an active one. Sometimes, I don’t dig deep enough because writing can feel like frothing egg whites by hand. It takes concentration, dedication, and by the end you ache from the effort.
Photo credit: Jon Rieley-Goddard aka baldblogger’s photostream
During a recent review of my current WIP Dark Intent, an adult paranormal romance, one of my CPs busted me on this very thing. My main character has a severe fear of the dark. I established my MC’s distress by showing her emotional/physical reaction to darkness. After watching her internal struggles for a while and not understanding the root cause, her responses lost impact. To avoid ‘info dumping’, the source of her terror must come out in bits and pieces.
The ground work for this was already there, I just didn’t dig deep enough. My CP helped me see how I could use the existing framework to strengthen my story. She recommended I go back to all those places where my MC attempts to confront her fear and reveal snippets of the inciting incident of her anxiety. Nothing major, just incomplete glimpses because in the dark, its often the thing we can’t fully see which scares us the most. It took my story from ‘can relate’ to ‘now I have goosebumps’.
Have you come across something similar in your writing/revising/editing process? Do you have any tips on slow reveals? Do you have character(s) coping with phobia?
If other writers are anything like me, they write what characters tell them to write and don’t always immediately understand why things unfold the way they do. This happened with my current adult paranormal WIP, which is 87% complete. I knew my human heroine possessed otherworldly abilities, yet I didn’t know where those powers stemmed from, only the cost she paid for using them. I also knew her fate was tied to the immortal hero’s and that their first encounter would change both of them fundamentally.
It wasn’t until my critique partners (CPs) Dawn Allen and L.L. McKinney sent a tidal wave through my WIP that I fully understood how deep the characters’ connection ran. Immortals have a lot of history to sift through. Sometimes, its tough to decide which part of their past is pertinent to the current plot. I knew something major in my hero’s past was coming back for him and that it was somehow connected to the heroine. My CPs helped me dig deeper with the hero to learn how his actions in the past could affect the heroine centuries later.
The fun part? The foundation for our discovery was there all along. The new information we uncovered fell into place like lost puzzle pieces.
I LOVE my CPs, which includes Nicole MacLaughlin who meets with us once a month. They are my girls and without them, I don’t know where my writing would be. They challenge me to push harder, dig deeper, stay true to my characters, etc. We don’t always agree with one another, but when we do…magic! And goosebumps.
Have you experienced and “AH!” moment in your writing? Do you push yourself to dig deeper? How do you know when you’ve gone deep enough? Do you have awesome CPs you want to give a shout out to?
I spoke a couple of weeks ago about a method I use to take the sting out of query letter rejection (here). Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to read a few books. While I await the release of Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole and Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter, I’ve selected a few free ereads.
Photo by Jessie Harrell
For a while now, I’ve been reading like a writer. Sometimes it takes the joy out of a book, other times it adds a whole new level of appreciation. This month, I read one book in each category. Overall, I enjoyed both of them. However, one author has me willing to pay money for the next book, the other not so much.
Here’s what did/didn’t work for me:
The Book I’ll Pass On
I have to admit, I loved the premise of this story. It was well into the genres I like. The author had a strong grasp on the paranormal creatures in the story and did a wonderful job of staying consistent with the supernatural powers in the world created.
There was tension and conflict in the story, but some of it felt orchestrated and much was resolved through hap and circumstance.
This one was a YA book and the author nailed the age and attitude, but it was a little over board.
The author used regional slang and clichés to the detriment of dialogue.
Plus, and I might be guilty on this one, the author had multiple scenes of every day things with no underlying tension. For example, the MC was getting ready for a date and that was it. No underlying emotional or mental tension.
The Book That Hooked Me
LOVED the heroine and the hero.
The voice hooked me right away. The MC is funny and relatable and freely admits her faults without out sound too self-deprecating.
The world building is wonderful and information about the setting is doled out in small digestible doses.
The supporting cast a.k.a. minor characters are intriguing in their own way.
I cared about what happened to the MC if she failed to reach her goal.
Have you ever picked up a free book which hooked you so well you purchased more from the author (if it’s paranormal romance, I want titles and names, please and thank you 🙂 )? What drew you in? Have you picked up one that turned you off, and if so say why (out of respect, please KEEP TITLES and NAMES ANONYMOUS)?
[Update: Look what I found. Free Kindle books here.]