A Final Critique

Hi, Everyone,

It’s been too long since I’ve posted. I’ll admit I’ve spent the last few months withdrawing from the world and its fracases. And I have been doing writing (escaping? who knows).

So, what’s new? I’m closing in on the completion of two novels. They’re linked (mildly), and they’ve deserved all of me in order to get to know the people telling the tales and getting their stories down.

I’ve come to the phase of writing a novel I’ve never been good at: the great last read.

It’s the time you have to back away and approach your stuff as someone who’s never seen it before and I’ve never been real good at it. I can do that to everybody else’s, but when it’s mine, I just haven’t been able to resist fixing my own pages as I read.

Fixing doesn’t work when you’re supposed to be a reader. And my stuff always has a lot of warts that need fixing. Even Donna Tartt’s stuff had warts, so did Wallace Stegner’s, and Stephen King’s and Irma Frabbish’s (just kidding, I don’t know Irma).

This is the time when the best authors take a step back and take one last looksee before they send their final writing out.

We writers do a lot of critiquing and we learn to be pretty good at it. I have to forget what I know what’s in my stories right now. I want the same distance I can give somebody else’s story I;ve never read.

Good critiquers don’t fix. Good critiquers don’t rewrite. Good critiquers read, take notes, let the author know what they think. Critiquers jot down where the pace lags (the story’s boring), where the writing doesn’t work (is telling too much and is pretty didactic and preachy), places where stuff doesn’t make sense, where it’s redundant.

Easy-peasy when it comes to critiquing somebody else’s manuscript. Not so easy with your own.

Well, that’s where I’m at: critiquing my own stuff. I hope I’ll be able to pick up these two manuscripts and be clear with them like can be with other writers’. I hope I can read them with a critical eye.

I plan to hold to this mantra as I read: “No fixing stuff. Not. Not. Not. You get to fix them later, Jeannie.”

If you’re of a mind to throw some good juju my way right now, I’d be ever so grateful. Maybe one day I can return the favor.

Ta-ta for now,

Jeannie


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