IWSG: The Value of Writing Buddies

Thanks to Alex Cavanagh, writers have a venue to sort out issues and express the joys and challenges of writing.

Purpose: To shaInsecureWritersSupportGroupre 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!

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 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.

The awesome co-hosts for the August 6 posting of the IWSG will be Sarah Foster, Joylene Nowell Butler, Lily Eva, and Rhonda Albom!

Feather Stone: Typically, I’m comfortable writing for weeks flying solo with my PC. In fact, I’ve avoided the distractions of the ‘noise’ of critics and reviewers – well, except for what is necessary in my marketing programs. While writing I can feel in my gut if something fails to make sense or be consistent with the story and characters. I’m not sure if other writers get that sense, an actual physical reaction when typing the dialogue, scene description, action, etc. When my body responds with a momentary ethereal wave that’s just short of being painful, I generally know to hit the delete key.

Generally! There are times when my ego gets in the way. If I persist and get stubborn about rethinking that piece, two things happen. The muse shuts up. And I don’t feel that euphoria that comes with writing a great scene. Recently I formed a group of writing buddies – writers and readers who I know well and value their opinion. I’m discovering their constructive criticism is invaluable.

Here’s a scene in Forbidden where I got stubborn. The scene takes place after killers have abducted a group of travelers. Eliza is hiding in the back of the supply truck and hears the sound of her fellow travelers being shot.

shutterstock_29319118-001Her passion for coming to the rescue of the injured over wrote all sense of self-preservation. Her paramedic colleagues often criticized her for being reckless for the sake of her patient. Eliza plunged out of the supply vehicle and ran toward the big gun mounted on the armored vehicle.

She scrambled up the side of the truck to the man firing the mounted gun. Shock momentarily halted his murderous mission. She clawed at his face and grabbed his hair, attempting to get him off balance.

Someone grabbed her from behind. Pulled her off the vehicle. Her years of martial arts training kicked in. She swung around and kneed him in the groin. He went down. She lunged at another killer still firing his weapon at the Americans. He attempted to bash her head with the butt of his rifle. She fell to the ground. Eliza rolled under the truck for cover. Blood flowed down from the gash on the side of her head.

**************

Recently, I asked a professional critic to evaluate the first 100 pages of Forbidden. I was curious about what she would say about a particular scene that all my reader / reviewers hated (and rightly so as this was written by my ego, and not my muse). The critic said: She could have a direct thought, like “I have to save them, do something! She pushed aside her terror and scrambled to her feet. “This is stupid; I’m going to get killed. I shouldn’t risk my life. They are probably dead anyway.”

**************

My writing buddies hated the original scene I wrote as it did not ring true. No one in their right mind would leap from her hiding spot in a truck to rescue people who were being shot by six heavily armed men.

Here’s are the changes based on my writing buddies comments. Let me know which do you prefer – the professional critic or my writing buddies.

Suddenly, a killer dashed to the rear of the supply truck. He jumped in and grabbed ammunition from a box. She gasped. The man froze for a second when he saw her crouched down behind luggage. ‘Oh my God, he’s going to kill me.’ Her lungs refused to take in air.

The killers stood with his mouth open and eyes staring at her as if in disbelief. ‘I’ve got only once chance. Get his gun.’ Her martial arts training kicked in. She lunged forward. As they grappled both fell out and down to the ground.

Landing on top of him, Eliza punched his groin hard. He cried out in agony. She scrambled on all fours toward his weapon. It had fallen several feet away. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a boot about to come crashing down on her.

Eliza rolled under the truck for cover just as the boot struck the back of her head. Blood flowed down her face and neck.

The barrel of a gun appeared aimed under the truck in her direction. She scrambled out and darted to the other side of the supply truck. Bullets ripped through her down coat’s shoulder. Puffs of down feathers stuck to the sweat and blood on her face. No pain. She wondered if bullets had found her flesh. Perhaps her raging adrenalin masked the pain.

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8 thoughts on “IWSG: The Value of Writing Buddies

  1. In my humble opinion, I think the one below works best. It makes the most sense in the context. The sense of desperately trying to get away from really bad odds and stay alive, possibly to come back and take them out one by one krav maga style, really comes out. I like the bit where she is not sure if she has been shot or not and the down is stuck to her bloody face. Its a great image.

    ‘The barrel of a gun appeared aimed under the truck in her direction. She scrambled out and darted to the other side of the supply truck. Bullets ripped through her down coat’s shoulder. Puffs of down feathers stuck to the sweat and blood on her face. No pain. She wondered if bullets had found her flesh. Perhaps her raging adrenalin masked the pain.’

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  2. Thank you, David. Hell just may freeze over before I hire another professional critic. My writing buddies are just as capable of pointing out what needs more work.

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  3. Definitely the version based on buddy feedback is better. The critic’s suggestion is only a bandaid that readers can easily rip right off. I’m very happy you’ve found yourself such a talented crew.

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  4. Thanks, NIcki. Who says one can’t teach an old dog a new trick. LOL. Love my writing buddies.

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  5. Hi Feather, the professional critic didn’t want to change anything besides adding some inner thoughts, right? And your critique group wanted to change some of the action to make it more realistic? I think both suggested adding inner thoughts to the scene, which is a good idea in general, but it’s hard for me to say which is better from that short snippet. Writing is so freaking subjective! I’m glad I have a critique partner and editor I really trust.

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  6. Well, I believe in “write what -you- like,” so I would never hire anyone to read my stuff and tell me how s/he thinks I ought to do it. At this point, I don’t much care what anyone else says unless there is a big “WHY?” attached to it. Like, “Why would she do that?” Those give me questions I can respond to.

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  7. Hi Feather! I think your writing buddies did an excellent job helping you out on this one. It’s a great feeling when you can find a group that clicks. I’m trying hard to find some in my area; now if only I could drive… 🙂 Have a great night! Lily-Eva IWSG, Co-host

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  8. Hello Andrew and lilicasplace. I just got back from a writer/reader weekend in Calgary. Sorry to have missed your comments. Thanks for dropping by and offering your thoughts. My writing buddies are truly wonderful. And, yes Andrew, the ‘why’ does make a writer take a second look. I find that an objective point of view helps me. I’m too close emotionally to be objective. It’s like painting a scene on a canvas. The painter needs to step back often and see it from the viewer’s perspective. Hmm, maybe everyone should be doing that exercise in all things. Blessings.

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