A few weeks ago, I sent the first page of “Fire in the Woods” to the Writers Chatroom. They posted it, and the group critiqued it live, on-line.
Nerve racking? A little, but overall it was a positive experience.
A few people asked me what I thought of the experience, and what it was like. Well, going into it I felt good. I think mine was number eight “at bat”. As I watched the other critiques go up, I did get just a little nervous. The critiquers had a whole lot to say, and they didn’t hold back.
The hard part about it is that everyone talks at the same time, and sometimes they are talking about different parts of your story. Because of this, I copied the pages as they scrolled by, so I could be sure to go back later and make sense of it.
The big things I got out of this are
1. The opening seems pretty good.
2. Despite the necklace being important, I don’t want it distracting. I’ll ease back on that a bit.
3. The “Mirrored in the glass overhead” part need to be re-written.
4. Change headphones to earbuds
I decided it would be fun if I posted the actual comments about my work below. The only editing I will do is changing the names of the critiquers, since I did not get their permission (I wouldn’t know how to contact them anyway)
This may be confusing, because one person may be typing an answer to a previous post… but meanwhile three or four people have said something else, so the answer comes far down the “scroll” and not right after the original comment. I was going to place everything in “easy to read” order, but I figured I’d show it to you exactly as I saw it.
My work was posted, and then there was one minute of “silent time” for everyone to think it over, and then the fun began. Here is the “transcript” (Which is just me cutting and pasting as the conversation scrolled by) In case you are interested, the novel starts with an explosion (no surprise, right?)
[MODERATOR] End. One minute please!
[ZADA] great suspense & description!
[Karina] very nice. I’m interested!
[ZADA] nice “showing”
[SAGE] yeah it was very descriptive but not over the top
[Deadend] Deascription was awesome..
[boop] so sorry the full screen format is screwing me up when I try to scroll up
[SAGE] it got me interested
[DETROIT] Excellent word use and it definetly keeps me wondering what is actually going on. What’s next, the whole house crumbling down? Nice!
[MODERATOR] Boop, just use the scroll bar to the right.
[HORN] Where did the smoke and fire come from?
[BOOP] Pink headphones? the description are fantastic!
[MODERATOR] I agree. The descriptions are terrific.
[PIKE] Mirrored in the glass overhead, over the clouds? The lightbulb blew out, or blew up? caught my interest with the action, mental works for action too. good job
[MODERATOR] I am wondering if the necklace has significance.
[DEADEND] Teachers try so hard to teach us not to use adjectives and overloadinding description, maybe they should read your short?
[GIRLYGIRL] Good. I want to know what’s going to happen. Great suspense and action.
[MCDONALDS] Almost on the point of “less can be more” – possible OVER-use of adjectives? Places where ONE might be enough instead of 2 or 3
[ZADA] it seems the necklace does have significance – at least that’s how I took it
[LISA] I’d start at “The ground shook…” Good descriptions
User WARRIOR has signed out.
User WARRIOR has entered this room.
[BOOP] Yes, or magical I thought maybe on the neckllace
[LAURA] The description was fantastic, although I sometimes felt it was too much – a bit overwhelmed, as it were.
[WIDDER] ‘likness mirrored in the glass over the cloud of grey smoke …’ – this didn’t make sense …. otherwise great descriptions … love the macro and micro description.
[MODERATOR] I don’t know, MCDONALDS. There are a lot of adjectives, but I felt they made the scene come alive.
[GIRLYGIRL] Less commas makes the pace faster I noticed in some places.
[LISA] A minor detail. Headphones are worn on your ears. Earbuds are in your ears.
[FLOW] i like another kick-ass girl (pink headphones)
[PIKE] but LAURA, it needs to be overwhelming, war is like that
[WIRED] there were a couple sentences that need rewording/refining other wise great job very showing
[DEADEND] Jesus.. Isn’t it great that we all love what we do?
[BOOP] Is the character a guy/girl
[LAURA] That’s true
[WIDDER] sure is DEADEND
[MODERATOR] Laura, the pink headset said “girl” to me.
[LAURA] I guess the main character is overwhelmed, too
[WORKING] I like the imagry! But couldn’t follow this “My likeness mirrored in the glass over the cloud of gray smoke wafting into the air” – I am asking myself “glass over smoke?
[PIKE] I have shooting, helicopter crashing etc in mine, lol love those women who are strong
[KATTIE] Visual, lyric writing = engages the senses – action vivid, very visual, each image pulls the story forward from the speaker’s viewpoint – the descriptions draw me into the story = I would want to read more, significance of the necklace in the maelstrom
[WARRIOR] Nothing wrong with commas
[BOOP] That’s the word, Laura, I concur the imagery is fantastic. It’s what makes a writer effective, in my opinion and this author has it
[FLOW] i’m thinking locket from her deceased mom
[PIKE] who wrote this?
[MODERATOR] This one is from another relative newcomer, Jennifer M. Eaton.
[BOOP] congrats Jennifer
[ZADA] great job Jennifer!
[WIDDER] excellent Jenifer! …. want to read the rest of this one too
[KATTIE] Mirror – maybe it’s ‘through’ the cloud of gray smoke ??
[MODERATOR] Jennifer, is the necklace important? We all want to know!
[PIKE] good job Jennifer
[JenniferEaton] Thanks, guys
[MODERATOR] WB Jim.
[LISA] Very nice, Jennifer
[PIKE] sure it is, that’s why she mentioned it so much
[KATTIE] Jennifer! I’d love to read more of this excellent story ^_^ Write On!!
[JenniferEaton] Yes. THe necklace is very important, and belonged to her dead mother
[HORN] Good job Jennifer.
[WORKING] Back story on the necklace would be great.
[MCDONALDS] Good hook, Jennifer!
[JenniferEaton] You’ll get the backstory on the necklace later in the story
[WORKING] Prologue perhaps?
[MODERATOR] Great job Jennifer.
[JenniferEaton] Thanks everyone!
[PIKE] since it’s ‘future’ I was thinking the necklace had some sort of ‘power’
[PIKE] no prologue, work it into a conversation, or using it, or thinking about it. ‘holding the necklace brought her comfort as she thought about her mother’
[MODERATOR] ready for the next?
[LAURA] Me too
There you have it. So, What do you think?
Is this an interesting way to get a critique, or totally insane?
- Critique Comments: Remembering to Give them Time (beckylevine.com)
As confusing as it seemed at times, it looks like you got some great advice. 🙂
That sounds so cool! I don’t think I’d be able to do it, but well done to you! They gave some great feedback 🙂 (and LOL at the names you chose for them!)
Wow…I wish I had enough self confidence (faith in my own writing?) to be brave enough to do that. In your case, it really paid off. There were very few things they would have changed and they all had wonderful things to say about your story. Great job Jen! 🙂
Wow, following all of those real-time comments would be hard. Copying them was a great idea. 🙂 It sounds like you got some useful critique through the process, though. And that’s always helpful.
Wow, that was brave of you! Well done 🙂
very cool and constructive
absolutely insane! but what a wonderful way to see if you are wasting your time, is it worth continuing? if wonderful then the critique is priceless in helping you achieve your goal of presenting an interesting story. Yet you would have to be crazy jumping into the unknown that way..wouldn’t you?
Evidently not for you took that plunge and received great crit and reviews…you are one brave woman!
Of course it’s insane! That’s the best part!
it also builds nerves of steel for the crit-er and the crit-ee.