Last time I mentioned that I’d been neglecting the blog due to rewrites. Rewrites that were about to be critiqued in ye ole writing workshoppe!! (<– see what I did there?) So, let’s just talk about how THAT went.
First off, let me say that I’m pretty comfortable with the folks in this workshop. We’re all at varying levels in our work, but all dedicated to helping each other get better. We are all encouragingly critical. I think that’s the best way to put it. We want to be helpful and provide guidance to each other without crushing that delicate writerly spirit. That said, it NEVER gets easier hitting the send button when it’s your turn to get critiqued! I mean, YIKES!
The rewrites I’d been working on were for the first couple of chapters of my MS that my class had already seen and commented on. I had taken the 1st two critiques I’d gotten from the class and really tried to rework the areas that people were struggling to understand. (Like I said, these people give excellent feedback!) And once I was able to look at the story through their collective lens, this thing really started flowing! My MC CAME. TO. LIFE. Where she had been TELLING the reader that she was all sullen and angsty, she now had ATTITUDE! She was snarky and resourceful, just like I’d always pictured her! The details that I originally belabored in paragraph after paragraph were now sprinkled throughout in more interesting and easily digestible bits. And she just seemed to write her own story.
We’d been discussing radical rewrites, and this was a pretty decent scrape and build. I nixed the entire original first chapter, made the MC more “in charge” of her situation, started things in the middle of my MC’s journey, added a new character (whom I ADORE, can I just say?), AND put the whole thing 70 years in the future. So, while I PERSONALLY felt awesome about where things were going, I was alive with the thought that all these changes would tank in critique and I wondered how I would deal with that.
They liked it! Everyone, including our teacher, felt that the changes worked. Things were clearer, my MC was way more relatable, the pace was better, the new character got good reviews! It’s not a one-off success. There were still some small things that needed fixing and/or additions to be made, but WHEW! Relief!
I say all this not because I want to be all “Yay, look how awesome I am!” I’m saying this because it’s the first time I’ve experienced real growth in my writing. I’ve been writing for years, but only recently have I let anyone else READ my work, let alone critique it, and I see now just how important collaboration and critique are. I went from a chapter that was intriguing, but a little too confusing and overwhelming with details, to one that flowed naturally and spread the details out more organically. In short, I LEARNED something, and that’s always awesome.
Have you ever workshopped your writing? What did you learn?