Thursday, July 2, 2009

Feedback (and my fantasy life)

In my fantasy life, sessions with my fiction group would go like this:

Writer 1: Pat, I just have to say, this is the most brilliant thing I've ever read.

Writer 2: If you change a word of it, we might just have to kill you.

Writer 3: Seriously--I laughed, I cried, I called my agent and told her that she'd better sign you right away.

Writer 4: I have nothing to add. I just wish I could write something like this.

Writer 2: I mean it. Do. Not. Change. Anything.

And then I'd whip up a fantastic query, send it out, land an agent, a publishing contract and voila.

Of course, that's not really how it works. I make plenty of mistakes. I sometimes completely fail to see how a scene will be interpreted. Characters that seem clear to me, make no sense to my readers. The whole "show don't tell" thing pops up, even though I know better.

I brought the first 28 pages of the first draft of my new middle-grade novel into my group last night. They're terrific readers and good friends, and most importantly, they don't let me get away with stuff that doesn't work. They were definitely engaged by the pages, but they had lots of concerns and suggestions. My brain is now overloaded with possible changes to solve all the problems they pointed out.

Despite my wildest fantasies, I'm far from a perfect first-draft writer. Luckily, I have a good writer's group to help me work my way towards a solid (and more perfect) final draft.

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