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I've been really behind in reading and writing about this book.  My last posts on chapter one and chapter two were quite some time ago.  I've been meaning to get back to it, but it wpid-img_20140707_061624_888.jpgremains sitting on my desk, not far from this computer, and gathering dust.  I've been reminded of it in updating my book list and in my recent endeavor of getting a professional critique on one of my favorite manuscripts.  The author doing the critique actually suggested reading it...so....

Thus, I've pulled it out, dusted it off and reviewed chapter three - well , really reread the whole thing since it's been so long since reading it.

Chapter three in Ann's book is on telling the story.  Interesting that Ann has told me in this book that just like I change my outfits, I can change my story by telling it in different ways- just like the published author told me I could change my story in my current favorite manuscript!  One of those ways is simply by changing the narrative voice - first, second, or third person.  Most picture books are told in the third person narrative.  Ann spends a lot of time in this chapter making sure the reader understands and can identify point of view - and then challenges us to take a story and write it in another point of view.

I'm about to take this manuscript that I have worked on for several months and change it from first person POV to third person POV.  I do think this will help - just not sure I'll like it but I need to give it a real shot.... time to get cracking.

Do you have a story that you have changed the POV?  What happened?

 

 

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I sent out a manuscript to my new critique group on March 3rd.  YIKES!   Learning to listen to others critique your work is a skill in and of itself, I think.  You have to press down your inner urges to scream, “No!  I can’t cut that part – that’s like – what got the whole story going!” or “What??  How can you not get that?”  and “But that changes the entire plot!??” and so many other thoughts that jumble around in your mind and the wrenching of your gut as you realize that the story is not the instant best seller you wanted it to be !  Haha….such is the life of a writer.

Finding a critique partner or group is an important aspect of the writing process in my opinion.  We writers get very attached to our characters and words we write on the paper and can not always look at our work with an unbiased opinion. We need that 2nd or 3rd opinion to point out things that we may never see for ourselves because we are just too emotionally attached.

But just as important is learning how to critique someone else’s manuscript.  I joined another critique group over a month ago and spent some time doing some major research into learning how to do just that…. And I’m not done yet.  There is so much to learn.  But I did find some major sources to help me learn the process and sources I will consistently refer to as I work on improving.

My favorite sources thus far have been the following:

The Critique:  An Important Tool (Paul Czajak)

The Critique:  An Important Tool Part Two (Paul Czajak)

Perfecting Your Critique (Alayne Kay Christian)

And, of course:  the forums at SCBWI and 12 x 12.  SCBWI doesn’t seem to post manuscripts anymore…at least, not from what I’ve been able to see so far.  I remember years ago that they did that and I learned a lot back then.  On 12 x 12 people can post the first 250 words.  It’s a learning experience just to sit and read the posts and the comments people make.  I can read and see what people make the most comments about – what are they complimenting? What things stick out as quality aspects of a manuscript?  What are the things people react against the most strongly?  Even if it’s not my own manuscript, one can learn a lot just by reading comments on other people’s work.

The biggest pointer I’ve learned is when you critique a manuscript, you should read it first, clear thru – out loud, and then just walk away and think it through before writing down anything or making any definitive comments.  And not just for five minutes.  Maybe a few hours – maybe a day.  Think about it.  Did you like the story?  Did you not like the story?  What is the biggest thing that sticks with you even hours later? Of course that’s not possible if you are in a sit-down group, face to face, but most critiquing seems to occur online these days and gives us ample opportunity to do that.

When you receive a critique, it’s important to do that same thing.  Read it…. Try not to let your feathers get ruffled…. Get up, walk away….  Come back to it later.  I’ve often taken something personal the first time I’ve read a manuscript critique of my work only to come back later and think, “Oh…. I see… yes, they are right about that.”  Take time to digest it instead of feeling those first moments of conflict within yourself because of that reluctance to change what you have spent hours creating.

I also, this month, have taken the opportunity to send a manuscript into this amazing blog site hosted by published children’s authors:  Rate Your Story.  It’s a little nerve-racking waiting to hear back…  I must keep in mind, whether the manuscript rates well or not, it’s a learning process.  It’s a process to make my writing stronger.

So what are your thoughts on the critique process?  Is there a source you like to use?  A service you like to use?  Please share with me and my readers!

 

 

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Well it's near the end of the year, so I thought I'd just write today about.... My Writing... and where I'm at with it.  Hopefully a year from now I can look back at this post and say, WOW!  Look at you!!!

Actually, I say that to myself today because 2 months ago I wasn't anywhere close to where I'm at today with my writing!  And I wouldn't have believed anyone that would have told me that I would accomplish this:

 

 

  • Become a member of SCBWI!!!
  • Participate in PiBoIdMo and end with 38 ideas!!!
  • Establish a three hour block of writing time that's JUST for me to spend on creative writing (picture books, etc.) each week!!! ( Thank you to our beloved neighbor for her time with my little guy)
  • Write three brand new manuscripts!!!
  • Get 5 people to give me critiques on the first manuscript!!!
  • Drag out all of my old writing materials and dust them off (cough, cough)!!!
  • Re-read and revise one of those old manuscripts!!!
  • Be given (by my supportive husband) and start reading the 2014  Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market!!!
  • Be given (again by my supportive husband) and start reading  Writing Picture Books: A Hands On Guide From Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul!!!
  • Be writing post #117 on this blog!!!
  • Have 67 followers!!!  A BIG thank you to all of you....especially those that give me feedback!  I love your comments!
  • Feel Accomplished and Motivated!!!  🙂

To my fellow writer's out there.... I hope you are feeling just as accomplished yourselves... if not, DON"T GIVE UP HOPE!!!  It's amazing what can happen in just a short amount of time!  Keep your head up and your pencils (fingers) to the paper (keyboard)!!!

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PiBoIdMo is over.     🙁

But I am soooo glad I discovered it at just the right time!!

It was an awesome month!

PiBoIdMo, as I stated at the beginning of November, is Picture Book Idea Month.  PiBoIdMo challanges the children's writer to come up with 30 picture book ideas.  I took on the challange and ran with it!

Not only did I have  38  ideas by November 30th but I was once again a member of SCBWI and I also had 2 complete manuscripts...still in rough draft form and I have no idea where to send them off to when I feel they are finished but, hey, that's a LOT more than I had over a month ago!!!   🙂

I'm also trying to find some critique partners.  I had three people take a look at one manuscript which was in a very rough form and it helped me refine the idea and get it headed in a better direction. My husband also bought me the 2014 Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators Guide so I can start getting a handle on what publishers are looking for in manuscripts these days.

I'm really excited to be writing again!  Can you tell?

Anyone else out there do PiBoIdMo?  How did you do?