Monday, January 7, 2013

First Drafts

Oh my goodness, I'm going to do it again. Another post about writing, and writing groups. I couldn't help it, though. Robison Wells () tweeted this gem this morning: "In the first draft, the ghosts just visit Bob Cratchit; tell him he's had a wonderful life." And all of a sudden I could hear all of the various responses in the voices of people in my writing groups.

Now, please don't misunderstand me. I LOVE my writing groups. I love their feedback, I love that they see continuity issues and logic problems and plot holes - and basically find all the things wrong with  my story that I can't see.

I still find the drama that surrounds writing groups hilarious fodder, though.

Here's Charles Dickens, who has just handed his manuscript off to his friends for feedback before he starts sending chapters to the newspaper for publishing. And here are some imagined responses I'll bet he would have gotten.

"I really like Tiny Tim, but I just don't get the whole Scrooge thing. I'm confused about why Scrooge wouldn't want the office to be warm. Doesn't that seem counterintuitive to a productive office?"

"Oh, those ghosts were fabulous. But what did Bob do to warrant being haunted? Frankly I was kind of bored with his story. Tell me more about your villain, he seems promising. But you might need to ramp up Bob's reactions. Make him a little more pro-active in dealing with this villain, or he's going to seem like a secondary character. Do you want your villain to take over the story? Maybe that's your goal? But if it is, maybe the ghosts should be bothering Scrooge instead?"

 "This was really great. Wow, you have such a talent with words. I was sucked in from the very beginning. Don't change a single thing. Publish it as is."

"I think you need more foreshadowing for the ghosts. It was a great story, but they kind of came out of nowhere. I thought you said this was supposed to be feel-good nostalgia, but this reads more like horror. Pick a genre and stick with it."

"Your descriptions are so long, I got bored, but I went back and made myself read every single word because I'm trying to be helpful. There really is a lot of telling here. I think you should show more of the city, not just tell us about how cold it is. I'm much more interested in Bob's emotional reaction to the cold than the cold itself. And why is Bob so cold? Don't they have heaters? I don't understand why Tiny Tim is pointed out so often. What is wrong with him? You should be more clear."

"I can see you put a lot of work into this, and you do have a flair for prose. But have you thought about what would happen if you made your villain an anti-hero? I think his story has more potential for an interesting arc. It's great that Bob's had this wonderful life, but it's boring. Pull out all of Scrooge's dirty laundry, and THAT's a story worth reading. I think his journey would be much more interesting."

Ok, I'll stop now. I just couldn't help myself. And let me say again, I love my writing groups, I do. But sometimes they're just so funny. And my own response to Dickens would have taken up pages and pages, I probably would have gone on for several paragraphs about the rattling of Marley's chains, so I am probably the worst writing group member, ever. But at least I can laugh at myself about it. :) haha!

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