Every author is different and each manuscript they produce varies from another. It is important for authors to be clear about what they are looking for in a critique. If, as an author, you have specific areas you have questions about, then relay this to your critique partner. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions as this can help guide your reviewer to areas with need outside comment. Asking questions of your reviewer can also help educate them in ways in which to critique.
There comes a stage in writing, when an author wants, needs, would benefit from having someone else read their work. Having someone who is not attached to the writing, read it with fresh eyes and then offer feedback can be invaluable. Of course, this can be challenging too, but this is usually the stage when the author, the writing needs to be challenged in order to develop, to improve.
I think of ideas, pieces of inspiration as rhizomes. A rhizome is a plant that has an underground system of shoots and roots and tubers – like ginger, bamboo or mint. Each tuber collecting a new and separate idea, but linked somehow to all other ideas.
Sometimes I use fragments of sentences to inspire writing. I collect bits of sentences that I find interesting, store them away long enough to have forgotten the context, and then pull them out again to inspire new writing.
I have just read ‘Night writing: a reading of Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’’ by Kevin Brophy. In many ways I enjoyed Brophy’s discussion of the story more than the story itself: he suggests that writers need to immerse themselves completely in their stories, to explore meaning rather than to impose meaning, he says that stories make themselves known to a writer and demand to be written.
In ‘Selecting the right slice of life’ by Cate Kennedy, Kennedy talks about finding stories in fragments of ordinary life. It is a concept that is very familiar to me. I write to explore and discover my own meaning; I write to work life out. I have always written fragments: snippets pondered over or hastily scrawled. Kennedy says “…stories give our experiences coherence.” Snippets, I find, are quick to write ‘on the go’, they sit waiting to be developed further, or incorporated into some other piece of writing, or are simply left as they are: fragmentary, a complete moment.
Introducing conflict and tension into your writing doesn’t have to mean guns and fights or anything that overly dramatic. Tension can seethe just below the surface, brewing but contained. Whatever form your conflict comes in, it is imperative to your plot that there is conflict. Conflict brings change; change brings conflict – both are important to keep your story moving, to trigger the events that form your plot. Louise Doughty says, “A plot is about things happening. It is about change, drama, conflict.”
Continuing with the theme of writing dialogue, today I want to have a go at writing snippets of conversation between two characters, using this to convey how they feel about each other.
Dialogue creates a sense of immediacy, putting the reader right into the action, connecting the reader directly to the characters. Today I continue from last week, exploring various aspects of dialogue.
While some people find it a breeze, I have always found writing dialogue difficult. If you are in this same boat, there are things you can do to build this skill.