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"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)

3.21.2011

Lessons Learned

Participating in the "Hone Your Skills" blogfest was an interesting and eye-opening experience for me.  Most of my work is off-the-cuff, impromptu writing.  In fact, the rules for Fiction Friday forbid editing.  I love it, because you have to turn your Inner Editor off, and it helps my creativity flow better.  I feel like I can go wherever my muse takes me, and if it's not perfect, that's OK, it's not supposed to be.

But "Honing Your Skills" implies revisions.  And quite frankly, I don't have a lot of experience with that.  Inviting people to critique my work was very helpful but nerve-wracking as well.  Here are the things that I learned.

1.  I use a lot of "place setters."  I know where I want to go with a story, and I'm impatient to get there, so I have a tendency to use a generic word to hold my place while I move on to the good stuff.  I figure I can always go back and prettify it later.

2.  Related to that, I'm not specific enough with my nouns.  A room is really a makeshift laboratory in the basement.  A gun is a Glock, Berretta or Ruger.  Flowers are sweet-scented roses or little purple pansies.  I know that in my mind, but I need to get in the habit of sharing that with my readers.

3.  Especially since I write flash fiction, I can cut a lot of unnecessary action.  Sometimes less is more.  I don't need to detail every turn down a maze of corridors or every step taken to exit a car and enter a building.  I need to learn to give less attention to unimportant elements so the important events get center stage.

4.  I'm not as tough as I like to think I am.  I found myself alternately embarrassed ("I can't believe I missed that") and defensive ("But if I change that, I'll give too much away").  I admit to feeling a little cranky and doubting my writing ability.

In the end, all the critiques I received have helped me tremendously.  The final story is much sharper, clearer, and better.  It has a much better chance of being accepted for publication by going through the process.  So, thank you Charity and Rosie, it was a great experience!  If I can grow a thicker hide, I'd love to participate again.

5 comments:

Julie said...

What a wonderful experience! Thank you for sharing what you learned. I don't know if I'd be able to recognize these things in my own writing either.

Cathryn Grant said...

I agree, thanks for sharing what you learned because we can all learn from it.

Getting critiqued is hard, I admire you for posting your reactions. (I also drift from embarrassed to defensive, but am too defensive to admit it.)

Shelli said...

Julie, thank you for stopping by, and you're welcome. :)

Cathryn, I'm glad it's helpful. Getting critiqued is hard. I hope I get better at it, because it really did help.

Deirdra Eden-Coppel said...

I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Magical Blog Award.

Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.

~Deirdra

Shelli said...

Deirdra, thank you so much for your visit and the award! I'm honored.