"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)
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.