Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Start Here


Or: What to do with your junk.

There are many blogs that address how to begin the writing process. And many blogs that show what to do with your polished masterpiece.
This blog is about the limbo in the middle: what to do with critiques you've received.

If you're saying "Wait, whaaaa? Critiques? What meanest thou?" – then you're a bit behind what I'm going to blog about. 

Fear not, here are some Quick Fixes: 

1.      Join a writer's group in your area. 
        One that allows you to share a few pages per week/biweekly of your junk and offers criticism that's appropriate to your comfort level. Take your coffee black? Cool. Find people who aren't afraid to get in your face about what your writing is saying. Need a little hand-holding? Cool. Find people who can give it to you. By no means stay with a group that doesn't meet what you need where you're at, but remember: change is good. Opinions are valuable. And growth can be painful. Writing is trying to get an idea from your head into someone else's and people, not websites, not books, can tell you where the message is getting garbled.

2.      Join writers' forums. 
      I was going to tell you to google them and check it out yourself, but my beta reader told me I should actually be helpful. So before I post a short list of them, here are some tips on getting the most out of writers' forums.  
·         There are perhaps dozens of writers' forums. In your zeal, you may be tempted to go buck wild and join ten, even twenty. If you've invented a machine to bend space-time physics to accommodate this, go for it. If you're still operating under Earth's current laws, have some care in which you choose to join. Getting the most out of a forum requires a serious investment in your time. For some, an hour a day, maybe more. Choose wisely, grasshopper.
·         How you ask? Many, if not all, don't require membership or a password to browse its contents. For me, I want an established forum with hundreds of members who contribute regularly. I can see this on the first page – how many topics are discussed ie. Poetry, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Western? How many threads/posts are within each subject – less than a hundred? Thousands? Egad, hundreds of thousands? The higher the better. How many members? There are always off-topic subsections in the forum, but are most of the topics useful to my level of writing or better? Most importantly, will I be able to post my junk and get critique and, just as importantly, will I be able to give critique and not be poo-pooed for my observations and opinions?
·         Some final tips on forums: You may have been published already. You may be the best writer in your creative writing class at school – your teacher said so! – and think you're the sh*t. You may even be God's gift to literary awareness. Awesome! But that attitude don't fly in forums. Seriously. The one and only rule I will ever say is absolute on my blog is this: Respect your fellow writer. Seriously. An online persona affords anonymity and can tempt one to type without thinking. Or perhaps a fellow member says something that you know, deep down in your primordial mitochondrial DNA, is wrong. It's fine to respectfully state your own knowledge but use tact. Because…
·         On the receiving end of a critique on your junk, it can hurt to have your writing mocked or ridiculed. That may not have been the intent, but it can be received that way, especially without the aid of facial expression or voice to soften the message. Forum members will advise you to "grow a thick skin" so the delivery of the message doesn't blind you to the message itself. I know, mixed metaphor right? Anyway, do unto others, Wiccan three-fold law, etc…

Writers' Forums:
(I'll post more after I check them out)

If you're saying "Cool, J. I got my marked up story. Bring it on!" – high five.


  1. writer's group might be one of the most important aspects to evolve one's writing...friends and family don't work, usually because they love you and don't want to dash your hopes and dreams with the truth...for Dean, a writer's group should come armed with a sharp melon baller to take out the heart in little ball-shapes...it's how he grows...

    1. My preferred weapons of choice are a leaky pen and a foul mouth...