Library Writers Group: Good Critique and Ice Cream

16 Jun

The writers’ group at my library met a few weeks back and I wanted to put together a short summary of what we talked about. We didn’t have anything to discuss this week so we talked about good critique. First, how to give critique.

Even if a piece is not for you and you would not read another world if your life depended on it, there’s a way to say that without being a jerk. “Your main character sucks” sounds better as “I didn’t believe your main character.” “Your writing is so choppy I couldn’t read it” could be “I found your sentence structures distracting.” Boom; done. It’s that easy. This kind of comes from some feelings I expressed in my Negativity #2 post a few weeks back. I don’t want to repeat that again. When something in the book really upsets you, recognize that it’s the circumstances and characters that have upset you, not the writer. Maybe the writer wanted to upset you and make you think and they’ve accomplished their goal. Direct critique at the story and characters, not the writer. As writers, we’re voluntarily putting ourselves into an industry that will perpetually tell us we’re not good enough and we’ll never make a living off of it. Why would we do that to each other when there are agents to do it? We should be a support system for each other and build each other up.

Taking critique is much harder. There’s no doubt you’ll get critique you don’t like or don’t agree with. Think about it for a few days before you disregard it. Maybe some thought will tell you it’s not such a bad idea to kill off the protagonist’s dad. However, not everything you get is useful and you can choose not to make some changes if it’s best for your story.

We read the article Shitty First Drafts by Anne Lamott taken from her book Bird by Bird. This book is sitting on my shelf and I will read it soon…. I hope. The article talks about how Anne goes about getting her first draft on paper because you can’t edit what’s not there. We all found this really relieving to hear. If you haven’t read the essay yet, please try to find a copy.

To end, we did a prompt. Mine was, “Takes place in an ice cream shop, one character is a doctor, involves new shoes.” Enjoy.

 

An ice cream to celebrate another test done. Sprinkles to celebrate the end of the semester. Hot fudge to prepare myself for a residency I’m not sure I’m ready for.

I’m sitting at the high bar stool because it makes me feel ready to run out of the door. I allow myself to half-slip off the seat as a test and only succeed in dropping my napkin. I need a new one to fight the fudge monster who’s trying in vain to drown the sprinkle villagers as they escape down Vanilla Mountain. I rescue a few perishing souls with my spook and look down again at my proximity to the floor. My toes almost graze the mound of books and notebooks in my backpack and I notice an almost hole on the left toe of my blue Keds. My mouth crews up in the same way I imagine the sprinkle-men did while evaluating their escape from hot fudge. Med school budgets don’t account for new shoes before a residency. They don’t consider Vanilla Mountain either. I sigh, knowing I’m facing another month of American cheese sandwiches for lunch and bananas for breakfast. Doctors really are the least healthy people.

 

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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