Mervyn Love, Editor
"Thank you for
your relentless support and encouragement for the writing community
throughout the world, Mervyn. Have a splendid day!
With all best wishes,
Andre L. West,
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Welcome to WritersReign Creative Writing Website
This Month's Feature Article
One of the hottest situations a writer encounters is critiquing another
writer's work. It's a common way to get burned. How can such an innocent act cause trouble?
Easy. Writers are as sensitive about their manuscripts as mothers are about their children.
Explosive, in fact.
Words are powerful and we need to be cautious in critiquing our fellow writers. Our purpose is
to ignite the passion to create; not turn muse to ash.
Remember how inflamed you felt when you read that last reject from an editor? Now think about coming face to face with that same editor; except
it isn't really an editor -- it's a colleague, a writer who may or may not be published equal to you -- a
friend, you thought, until you got back a rude comment or a critique longer than the manuscript
Most writers truly want to improve their work. A critique can target passive verbs, uneven
flow, discover a hole in the plot, weak characterization, a jarring note, or offer a final proof-reading. Effective
critique methods depend on individual needs. To some writers every helpful comment turns into a match thrown onto
the fire, but nurturing the good not just finding problems can increase flame resistance.
Yes, some authors exchange critiques without chopping egos into easily lit tinder or smoldering
opposing views into flames of resentment. How? It requires tact, professionalism and rules for
(1) Beware of extremely flammable situations:
(a) Writers with high sensitivity levels
(b) Crudely given criticism (it benefits no one)
(2) Remember opinions differ:
(a) When critiquing you're offering your own opinion and your way is not the only
(b) What one person hates; the next might love
(c) What one category/format/genre demands; another might not tolerate (Same with
(3) Basic editing and grammar must be tempered with familiarity for the type of
(a) If you're a professional or published author or poet, that does not
qualify you as a total expert -- often pure creativity & artistry trumps form or rules
(b) Develop a feel for what you critique and read for style and content and overall appeal.
Sometimes the strangest things can trigger a deep response. A word or phrase can be a hidden gem.
Dialogue might sparkle although the plot is weak. Tell them.
(4) Point out the positives, not just the negatives.
(a) It's important for a critiquer to note what does appeal -- vivid description, beautiful
cadence, or maybe an author's ability to evoke reader emotion.
(b) A writer must learn what works as well as what doesn't. Otherwise, if they rewrite they
might lose whatever is good about their piece.
(c) A critiquer should encourage and nurture strengths
(5) Every writer is unique. Technical advice is fine, but don't impose your writing style on
another writer's work.
(6) If you play with fire you might get burned, so exchange
manuscripts on websites or with writers you trust.
(7) Douse flames with diplomacy before there's a flare-up.
(a) An angry writer won't listen
(b) Sometimes writers' instincts are more important than rules
You may discover your own writing improves as you critique the work of fellow authors. Be brave
and exchange manuscripts/poems with your peers, because it's great to listen and learn from other writers. Use
encouragement to temper criticism.
Maybe no critique is fireproof -- but it's worth the risk.
Karen Elizabeth Rigley
A multi-award winning author/poet/designer, Karen is recognized for her ability to touch readers with her myriad of
stories, articles, scripts and poetry. She’s a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and also
the International Women’s Writing Guild. Please contact Karen at Shimmerfall@aol.com
DOWNLOAD THIS ARTICLE IN PDF
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Write A Novel In A
Review by Mervyn Love,
Can this really happen? Well, after putting it to the test, my personal answer is 'Yes' and 'No'. I purchased this eBook at the beginning of
July 2010. The author, Dan Strauss, who has written a number of books for writers, gives a plan on how to
tackle, what to many, would seem an unlikely task. He writes in an engaging and upbeat way and lays down
exactly what you should be doing from Day 1 to the completion of your book. His premise is that by the end of
a month you can have your book ready to send to a publisher.
This was exactly what I needed as, although I've written many short stories, I've never tackled a complete book
as it seemed like a daunting chore to me. I had a children's book in my mind which I wanted to get down on paper,
and by following his plan and his methods I set about writing it. The plan, and all his other tips and shortcuts,
were easy to follow, and I actually enjoyed the process which before had seemed onerous to say the least. And the
result? After starting at the beginning of July the book was done by the end of the month! But...
Was my book ready for a publisher at this point? Well, actually, no. Why? Because I had not stuck entirely to
the time schedule Dan Strauss sets out. Lost some Brownie points there, I know, but still, I kept going and did all
the revision, corrections and so on. This took me another two months so that by the end of September my book was
ready to send out. Being a children's book it was shorter than your average blockbuster too, weighing in at just
over 54,000 words.
So is writing a Novel In A Month pie in the sky? Well, if I'd stuck to the letter of Dan Strauss's law it
could have been done much more quickly. And when I get to work on my next book the experience of doing the first
one will be invaluable in completing it faster. Whether I personally could manage it in a month remains to be
seen, but come on, be honest, even a book done and dusted in three months by someone who has never written one
before is pretty good. Isn't it?
Find out more yourself here: Novel In A Month
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