Novel Girls: Cutting, Adding, and Your Own Weakness

22 Apr

There is no way to describe how much I love meeting with my Novel Girls. It’s the perfect thing to do on a Thursday night to put me in my weekend brain a bit early. Then I float through Friday in a cloud, which is really wonderful.

This week it was me, Katherine, and Nicole and we met at Nicole’s new place again, which is great. I’m super jealous of her book shelf, by the way. It’s so well-organized and mine’s a total mess, haha. We all brought short stories, which was a nice change of pace for us, as we normally bring chapters of our novels.

My story is one I had rejected recently. Not my proudest moment, but I’ll live with it. I took the piece to another writers’ group and got a bit of feedback on it, but I was looking for more. The girls had some good advice on where I can make some cuts in the piece. They felt a part of it was entertaining, but didn’t develop my character. I thought that was really good feedback. The other part where they suggested I cut something is when my character’s finally revealing something about himself, but it gets muddled in the wording. This was hard for me to hear because the other group had said this part wasn’t long enough and needed more because the importance of the secondary character was watered down. One group wants more details on her, my girls wanted less and for me to focus on my main character. I’m still trying to decide what to do here. Reader, what do you do when you get two pieces of advice that seem great but contradict each other? I”m stuck in an author’s limbo!

Nicole seemed to have the opposite problem from me. In her story, we as readers wanted more! We wanted more detail as to what both were thinking, what started the conversation they were having, and what they were doing. The piece was very emotionally charged, very hard for both of the characters to endure, and very detailed. We felt the emotional changes the characters were experiencing merited a more in-dept look because of how their lives were changing in this ten minute window. Because it was such a rough time for both, I suggested giving the story a little more of a starting point and frame of reference so that the reader would understand how out of character some of the things were for these characters and how this was something that was hard for them to do. I think it will be a really strong piece when it’s finished.

When I read Kathrine’s piece, I knew that there were two spots which didn’t show her best writing. When I pointed them out, she agreed. She’s felt that these were two weak points herself when she’d sent it off to us. We talked through some ways to improve them and I think Katherine was glad to have some other people to talk to about those two parts. It was a reminder to us all that if something sounds weak when you write it, the reader will probably notice. It’s better to re-word or re-structure the part then to assume your reader will ‘get it’ or hope no one notices. This shows how helpful a close group of writers can be.

I hope all of your writers groups are going well. Until next time, write on.

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2 Responses to “Novel Girls: Cutting, Adding, and Your Own Weakness”

  1. Cay April 22, 2014 at 1:45 PM #

    Sounds wonderful to meet up like this and discuss your writing. I think I need to find me some Novel Girls. If there are any roaming around on the African savanna, please pop by any time for beta reading and wine drinking.

    Like

    • Sam April 22, 2014 at 1:47 PM #

      If I ever make it to Africa, I’ll be sure to let you know! There are a lot of groups that meet virtually as well. I know a lot of people who have found critique partners on line. You’ve just got to start looking. 🙂

      Like

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