#IWSG – Sneaky Surprises

Created  and hosted by the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, theInsecure Writer’s Support Groupmonthly blog post is here again – and so am I, insecure or maybe just guilty.

Guilty as my writing in July continued to be minimal: a few book reviews and the first draft for my August #WEP/IWSG CHALLENGE – due a fortnight (two weeks) today. Meanwhile, Sparkle Anwyl has taken a holiday in my head. And I’m still wading through a backlog of emails that fills up like sand.  Or is it my gaming distractions or my health?   

Rabbit holes – like researching hashtags that describe me: #IWSG #WEP/IWSG #crimefiction #ubisoftgames #assassinscreed #gamer #bookworm #goodreads #MS. Those were for #PWPoePrompts.

My biggest concern is my entry for the 2019 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest. I’ve done most of the research, but some key bits are missing. I’ve outlined my story but I’ve yet to finish the first draft. Finally, I fear I need more than beta readers that know MG. The deadline looms – September 4th. Panic is setting in.

Beta readers. I keep losing them. I even need some to help get ‘Azure Spark’ ready for pro-editing. Are my own critiques frightening writers/readers away?

The brutal truth. Can anyone help me, please?

Anyway, on to the IWSG monthly question.

August 7 question – Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you’d forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

I can’t claim any ‘industry’ surprises. But that’s not surprising given my lack of productivity. A few expected rejections, a few years ago. One hoped for acceptance – my debut novel, Spiral of Hooves. But unsurprising low sales and mixed reviews.

However, there was one surprise while writing Spiral of Hooves – the identity of the antagonist. S/he changed as I edited the early drafts and focused the story – as did her/his motive.

In one of my current WIPs, part of the Snowdon Shadows series, one of my favourite characters became an unexpected victim – but with a twist. Where did that come from?

There must be a devious person at work in my mind. Who is it? Why did I create a link back to my unrelated debut? A character in the WIP series appeared after playing a minor role in Spiral of Hooves. Who was more surprised? Me or Sparkle?

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The awesome co-hosts for the August 7 posting of the IWSG are Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!

(I so admire these guys as I know they have commitments too. Ticker-tape applause.)

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Critique partners and Beta-readers

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2This post arose because I have just given my first critique for a fellow writer in the Insecure Writers Support Group’s Critique Circle on Facebook. And it is the first Wednesday of October, so this is my IWSG monthly post.

I felt that it was the perfect time to look at what the experts had to say about the critique process. So where better than starting with a useful post at IWSG on what to look for in a critique partner:

“The manuscript is polished – huzzah! Time for another set of eyes to look at it.

Beta readers/test readers are often those who are just readers of our genre. They’re great for spotting flaws in the story. But we also need skilled writers to go over the manuscript and examine the plot, the character arc, the grammar, the structure, etc. Enter–critique partners.

What should we look for in a good critique partner?”

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So what should we be asking our critique partners? Well there various questions, and here are the ones that K.M Weiland suggests:

1. Is anything confusing?

2. Are any scenes boring or repetitious?

3. Do you spot any general tics (repeated words, etc.)?

4. Do you spot any confusing plot points (let me know when and where I lose you and what needs to be clarified)?

5. Does the opening grab you?

6. Is there an appropriate balance of action with the other subplots?”

These are just the ones that she asks before the crit. partner reads the manuscript, but she has others.

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There is an overlap in what one expects from beta readers and crit. partners, and Margaret Yang gives in an insight into her experiences at Jade Varden’s instructive website.

Of course we have to remember to treat our readers with respect. As Michael Kinn points out at Janice Hardy’s Fiction Workshop, there is etiquette involved:

“As beta readers we can all do with some critiquette to guide our feedback to the (hopefully) well-polished drafts writers send us. The seasoned beta reader will find out what type of critique the writer is looking for, shun infeasible turn-around promises and warn the writer of any delays. Of course, beta readers should always offer candid feedback and treat the writer with respect. These are sound rules for critiquing. But in guiding my own critiques, I try to let one piece of advice rule them all…”

How to Serve and Swallow Criticism’ is an art in itself, which Kristan Hoffman describes at Writers Unboxed. However, there may be reasons to ignore some of the advice from our critique groups, as Anne R. Allen explains, but with qualifications.

Those are some of the expert opinions, though not all by a long way. I have my own experiences, but, although I did belong to a writers group, I’m still near the beginning of my critique path. I tend to mix the praise with the constructive criticism. I also aim to not sit on manuscripts for ages, but realise that there are some busy readers out there.

UPDATE: Good guide to “How to Critique Fiction” by Victory Crayne at: http://www.crayne.com/howcrit.html 

What is your advice?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Some of you might have noticed that I missed yesterday’s post. Or you think this has combined the two posts? Well, I did think that I could count this one twice. Dang, I could have posted it yesterday, then tweaked it for today. What a missed opportunity. Would anyone have noticed?

In fact, there will be another post this week as I will be posting about the launch of One Stop For Writers, which launches tomorrow October 7th

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with other writers – aim for a dozen new people each time. 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

And be sure to check out our Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/

We also have a t-shirt now! You can purchase it here – http://www.neatoshop.com/product/IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the October 7 posting of the IWSG are TB Markinson,Tamara Narayan, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar!