Well, folks. It was fun while it lasted.

As you can see, not much has been happening on this blog lately.

There are several reasons for this, but I will only hit on a couple:

First: It's amazing how much can change in a couple of months--both in our personal lives and on the writing front. A couple of us have signed publishing contracts, and so the need to write, edit, market, promote HAD to take preference over this blog and the services we were providing.

Second: Running this blog, critiquing submissions, providing feedback...well, that's a LOT of dang work. We weren't getting paid for this service. We had a concept and we went with it--for free--not realizing how much time it would involve with very little (nothing) in return for our effort.

Third: Probably the biggest factor that made us come to this decision, was the fact that a good portion of the submissions we received just weren't ready. They needed more revision. We were wanting to give out reviews on AMAZING, fully complete, well edited novels. 90% of what we received didn't come close.

So we've shut it down. We've moved on.

If you liked our comments and our posts, you can check us out on our individual blogs:

Angela Scott: www.whimsywritingandreading.weebly.com or @whimsywriting on twitter or http://www.facebook.com/AngelaScottWriter

D.S. Tracy:

Kacey Mark:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fat Girl In Skinny Jeans

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 9:06 PM

Even at my skinniest, I hated trying on jeans (swimsuit shopping is a completely different beast that requires meds for me to address, so we’ll just go with jeans). 

There’s something ominous about slipping into a dressing room, staring into a carnival mirror, and seeing all my imperfections nagging back at me. Guilt, shame, regrets all roll through my mind. But no matter how much I beat myself up and curse that last donut, I can’t change the fact that until I recognize my insecurities and accept them, I’ll always be the fat girl in skinny jeans. 

I could say the same thing about writing. 

Some people jump into writing with the idea that they’ll be the next latest and greatest author and their book will outsell even Stephen King. I hate to break it to those folks, but it’s not gonna happen. (Unless their name rhymes with Shmephenie Shmeyer) Becoming a writer—a novelist—is not for the weak. It is brutal. 

The most important thing a writer can do as they hone their craft is to develop a thick skin—armor is more like it. Some think they can write their story, spell check it, and then wah-lah it’s ready for publication, but that is far from the case. Most writing is rewriting or editing, going back through the 'script, tightening up loose ends, and cleaning up clumsy sentences and plotting issues. 

My carnival mirror I use for writing comes in the form of a critique group. If you are a writer and don’t have one, I think you should find one asap. Beta readers are a great help, but unless your readers are writers or read anything they can get their hands on, chances are they won’t pick up on the things you need to perfect your ’script. The group also helps a writer deal with criticism—the good, the bad, and the ‘what the $%*#?’

There is nothing like sending a chapter to a critique member and getting it back littered with marks or highlighted with rainbow colors. It is overwhelming and disheartening . . . for about ten minutes. After the shock wears off and the suggestions evaluated, excitement rolls in and the real writing begins. Things start to click and ideas flow, at least in theory. 

My critique group has the tough, the tougher, and toughest of members. I can rely on each person to find something wrong and steer me in the right direction. Do I follow every suggestion? Nope, because I have to stay true to my voice and my vision. Tie goes to the writer. In turn, they support and rally behind me as I take on the next step of submitting to agents. 

Agents are overwhelmed with query letters and submissions—drowning in them. A person can’t rely on an agent or an editor to look at a manuscript and see its potential through all the grammar issues and plot holes; they want perfection. 

According to Noah Lukeman in The First Five Pages: 

“Agents and editors don’t read manuscripts to enjoy them; they read solely with the goal of getting through the pile, solely with an eye to dismiss a manuscript—and believe me, they’ll look for any reason they can, down to the last letter.” 

Why am I in this business again? Thankfully, I have a few friends who are standing outside the dressing room waiting for me to parade around in my new jeans. And when I emerge looking like a fool, they are the first to suggest a different size. Although it isn’t easy accepting a failure, I know that with a little hard work and one less donut, I may just be able to fit in the skinny jeans next time. 

And this is exactly why I’m so brutal with my critiques, actually I’m a bit softer lately to tell the truth. My acceptance rate for this blog is 23%, and a few of those were far too generous simply because the work was unpublished. I saw some potential and if the writer was willing to polish a bit more it could really deserve a four or five star rating.

I don’t know why people want fluff: the easy feedback that leaves an aftertaste in my mouth. I think it’s great to point out the positives in someone’s writing, but the point of a critique is to help improve the writing and writ-er. This is where I have a hard time. I want to be told what didn't work about my novel so I can fix it. I don't need coddled or placated or whatever other synonym you wanna throw in there. I want honesty, and I want someone to stand up for me, to make sure I'm not being an impetus ass who is running to the finish line before I'm ready.   

This is a rough business and if you aren’t willing to fight for your craft then maybe you need to return to writing for the love of it. I’ve read some nasty reviews on Amazon—horrible reviews. If you’re shooting for publication, traditional or self, you need to be the best you can be. Perfect and be open to feedback, good and bad. It isn't an easy place to get to, trust me, I know. There just comes a time when enough is enough. 

Rant over.

Thanks for looking, 
The Skeptical Hook’er


Brooke R. Busse on August 4, 2011 at 10:29 PM said...

I don't own a single pair of skinny jeans simply because I don't like the way they look. I prefer boot cut or flair. I'm sure I can connect that statement to writing...

Ah, okay here goes. In the same way that you have to recognize and accept your flaws (with the skinny jeans), you also have to realize when it's time to move on to something that's better for you (ie. boot cut or flair).

Marc Mattaliano on August 5, 2011 at 6:53 AM said...

I really think I need to find a critiquing or beta reading group. My one full manuscript that I'm desperate to edit to a point where I feel confident about querying agents about it, really needs more feedback before I'll believe in it officially. And thanks to what I've learned from you ladies and other authors on Twitter, I started a new WIP that, although it's getting to a slightly slow start, I'm extremely intrigued by its character and charm.

I really need to find someone or a group of people to give me feedback on things. I wanna say I'm good at giving feedback in return, though I'm not sure I'm all that terrific at it.

I would be willing to try, though, :-)

Charlotte on August 5, 2011 at 8:02 AM said...

I just bought jeans yesterday. Had to go up a size, but they looked better than the muffin top inducing pair I thought I wanted.

Writing analogy...

I would love to have the validation of an agent, but I'm happy I decided to self-publish. It's an awesome fit for me and my readers.

Tombstone on August 5, 2011 at 8:28 AM said...

Am I the tough, tougher, or toughest of critics?

Ready, Aim, Hook Me on August 5, 2011 at 4:43 PM said...

Wyatt, I think you and Angela both don't let me get away with bad so I would say you're just perfect. Does that answer your question? lol.

Elisabeth Hirsch on August 5, 2011 at 6:56 PM said...

I agree, it's best to make it as good as possible. Great post.

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