Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hi, everyone,

I hope you are warm and toasty wherever you are! We just got seven more inches of snow, on top of all the other snow we've been getting this winter, with 20-40 mph winds, so we are totally drifted in. I still wanted to post today, but this will be short--I need to get back outside to help move snow while we still have daylight. We have drifts almost three feet high on our deck!

On the last two Sundays, I shared two of four Big Secrets that can really help you move your writing to the next level if you are just starting out. One was that you need to finish your book! Obvious, I know, but far too many writers never get past chapter three, because they get frustrated and start something else. The second secret was the value of reading everything aloud. Dialogue, narrative, everything--because it really brings awkward prose to light, as well as clunky or over-long dialogue. Believe me--it works!

Today, I'd like to share #3: Save a fresh reader. Do you have a critique group, or a friend, who reads your work and gives you helpful criticism? It's wonderful when you have such a resource to help catch all the plot problems and confusing bits that you might have trouble seeing yourself, because your scenes are already so familiar to you. What happens though, is that a writer will revise, and take the chapter back to her critique group for another look...and this can go on and on. My advice last time was to keep on writing. Don't stop and keep rehashing those scenes. Get to the end of the entire story first, unless there are major problems that simply must be addressed before you can move ahead. But also, save a fresh reader!

If you can give your completed manuscript to someone who has never read a word of it, and that person is willing to read it from start to finish over a weekend, s/he is going to see problems that you and your critique group won't, because you've been going over this project for a long time. A fresh reader will see it with new eyes, just as a contest judge or agent or editor will. It's a big favor, though, so be sure to offer to reciprocate!

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