Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Fricassee

Another good crit round under our belts!

Participants: Was this a good experience? Newbies: Did this live up to your expectations?

I know it was a toughie. It's hard for a reader to understand that a character's emotional response is over-the-top if we haven't gotten to know the character first. So yes, it was challenging. I think that the main take-away--at least for me--was the level of believability despite not knowing the character well.

Yes, I participated. Mine was number 45. (If you follow me on Twitter, you already knew this.)

So now I get to share my personal Drop the Needle experience! Honestly, I was thrilled that my dialogue was, overall, believable. Dialogue has been a huge struggle for me, and I've come a long way since my first novel. (A long, long, way. You don't really want to know.) It thrills me to see readers "believing" my dialogue from the get-go. It's been a long journey!

And yes, this is a first draft--from my now-halfway-finished YA novel. So the editing comments were right on track; things that need to be tightened and fixed when I go back and rip the whole stinkin' thing apart.

I especially appreciated the feedback on the final paragraph, for which I was admittedly "out of my comfort zone" in writing. How to do an effective, well-paced fight scene? I'm obviously still learning. Your critique is invaluable--thank you so much!

As for Monday: Please remember that the submission window will be open for the full 24 hours, so you don't have to sit for countless minutes with your trembling index finger poised above your mouse. And you don't have to set your alarm for two in the morning if you're in an "off" time zone. (Well, "off" for me. Certainly not "off" for you, since you, yanno, live there.)

I will draw 50 submissions using a random number generator after submissions close on Tuesday.

After that, I'm going to post a surprise. *grin*

So have a wonderful weekend! And like every Friday, I look forward to reading your comments in today's box.


  1. As a newbie, I thought this was a great experience. The comments I received were very helpful (though in all honesty I had hoped for more than 5). Still, it's something I would do again for sure. It was scary to put myself out there, but having done it once, I am encouraged to keep growing and learning more. Thanks for the time you take to run this site, Authoress!

  2. As a first-timer, n' a newbie to MIss Snark's site, all I can say is: THIS ROCKS!!! I cannot wait to post my own stuff here, n' to get comments on all my cool sh**!

    Authoress, you R*U*L*E!

  3. Thank you, Authoress, and everyone else who critiqued my excerpt #18. The suggestions were helpful, and considering I have a bad case of isuckitis right now, the compliments were much appreciated!

    This is a WIP or a WSIP (work stopped in progress). 1st time writing 1st person, juggling the multiple time-lines, and a few other structural idiosyncrasies inherent to this ms had me filing the thing away as crap, er, I mean a learning experience. But now I'm thinking maybe it's worth tackling again:)

  4. My first DtN sub was a great experience! Thanks for all who critted. Everyone here is so good at providing honest, thoughtful crit balanced with courtesy and mutual respect.

    Like Deb S, I've been down with isuckitis for awhile and it was nice to get feedback from people who know and care about writing. Without any other agendas but the writing.

    You DO rock, Authoress. And so does this community. Rock on!

  5. This was my first time participating in Drop the Needle and it was great. Thanks so much to htose who took the time to give some very thoughtful, specific feedback. Very much appreciated.

    Can't wait to do this again.

    My MS is still a WIP, so no SA contests for me...yet. Knowing they are passing me by until I finish my MS keeps me motivated to edit, edit, edit.

    Thanks, Authoress, for your many hours of devotion. Thanks, also, to all who let their voices be here. Very, very helpful and fun.

  6. Also my first time (#4) and while I would have loved more than 5 crits my critters were awesome. Everyone added something helpful and constructive criticism is what I was hoping for. I leave this first time critique in awe of this amazing online community created by the amazing Authoress. Thank you everyone and thank you Authoress for offering so much of your time to further all of our writing experiences.

  7. Thanks for the opportunity! As a newbie I learned a HUGE lesson.

    NEVER take 1000 words from a scene and cut it down to 250! Stupid newbie mistake.

    I cut out MOST of the important info and what remained left the reader a bit lost.

    I am sorry to all the readers and have learned my lesson. BTW I was #30.
    I look forward to more chances to be critiqued and critique! I enjoyed reading your entries and found others reviews insightful. They pointed out things that I would'nt have noticed.
    Thanks again!

  8. Another newbie just blown away by the wealth of great citiquing here. I can't believe some of the really obvious stuff I didn't see in my own writing. (echoing words for example).

    Thanks so much Authoress!

  9. That was fun and instructive. Thanks to all who took a look at #14.

    Not sure I have anything to offer for next time. Wrong genre. I am looking forward to seeing what ya'll post, though. Maybe I can think of something useful to say about your efforts.

  10. Thanks to all for the helpful crits. Jessie17, I'm still working my way down the list (it's just the way it comes up on the screen) so you'll get at least one more, as will about half of the remaining people on the bottom. I'm guessing, like me, if you've got one posted, you're checking every now and then for more feedback (about every five minutes?).

    Thanks again to Authoress for all the time you spend doing this!

  11. I am new to your site...and hooked. Can't wait to participate in the fun! GREAT JOB!

  12. I really enjoyed this process, and would really like to thank everyone for critiquing #41. I appreciate the feedback and look forward to participating again.

  13. I didn't participate, nor will I be eligible next time, however...

    I'm surprised that 8 or 9 crits per posting is a long way from the 45 posts sent in. I hope there will be more coming through.

    The craft knowledge shared in the crits were invaluable.

    I hope there will be more input from the posters who entered the contest. :-)

  14. Another 1st-timer, and yes, I liked having new people look at my stuff.

    250 was a challenge, but I liked having to find something mostly coherent.

    The hardest part to me was reading other people's stuff and learning to articulate my "instinctive" reactions.

  15. I am a 1st-timer too and I really found the critters to be smart and generous with their comments.

    Thank you to all who read #34. It is my first manuscript in its first draft.

    I fiund all my critters comments had valid points and I have already gone back and adjusted my ms.
    Thanks again, will definitly be ack to do more.


  16. I enjoyed this experience and found it very helpful. Thank you all, even the ones who disliked the dialect. I'm #42 with the "yer" and "dinnae" peppered through the dialog. People asked me questions do here are some answers.

    On word choices: "stomped" checks out with my British partner Eric, his cousins in Wells UK and the OED as appropriate for England and the time period. "Tapped" was a universal mystery so even though it is Cumbrian for "crazy" I'll figure something out by definining it in context or switching to "daft". I thought I could get away with it because I recalled tapping my temple to indicate somebody was 2 cans short of a 6 pack. Oh well.

    About dialect and language: This is a conscious choice not to be authentic but to build a world where country folk dwell. The court scenes and upper classes speak standard English which in this work represents Norman French and Latin. The use of language reflect class and power in this book. However, I do want the dialect to be accessible to people so I'll re-read again.

    The dialect is not authentic to the period. If it were, neither I nor you would understand any of them since the educated people of the 12tch century in Shap spoke pre-Chaucerian Middle English, Norman French, Latin and a local dialect. Funny, we mostly have only English now. Thanks to the readers who enjoyed it anyway and to the one who loves the Age as much as I do!

    About similar names: Elspet is indeed her mother Elisabeth's pet so her name is significant: Els-pet. It's part of the problem that drives Elisabeth mad. That comes out later in the story. I do use Els as a nickname to make reading easier.

    Age intended: I have written this for adults. Again that is a conscious choice because I am exploring some fairly significant sexual/spiritual themes not appropriate for YA or Middle Grade. I could have skipped that and made it a different book, but so far I have not. I am on the 3rd re-write (or is it the 4th). The characters are young because in the 12th century, that is how old they would be. Where we can enjoy adolescence until we are 30-ish, they often died before that. In 1173 50% of the population was under 21 or so the historians say. I did not want to make this a contemporary tale picked up and set down in a faraway place and time like a sword and sandle novel. I wanted to get into their heads and see how different the people were, and how they were the same.

    Your comments were so helpful, I hope you keep them coming. I check back to catch the new ones.

    On the other hand, I enjoyed reading the ones I critted. As time allows I may add a few more.

    Right now I want to see if I can ready something for Monday.

  17. Thank-you for providing the format for this to happen. Great experience to walk in other readers' shoes.

  18. Thanks for the opportunity to test my stuff here (# 40). It was fun and I appreciate all the feedback I got. Ciao.

  19. Thank you Authoress for the late acceptance (#44) and to all the critters for their considered comments. (The exclamation marks will be duly reined in.)

    I was a newbie too and I'll admit to being quite terrified about putting my 'baby' out there for comment.

    But as hard as that might have been, the more difficult part was finding a 250 word excerpt that could stand alone, yet fit the theme. (My synopsis ended up being misleading too, which didn't help)

    The best thing for me has been the actual critting, and then comparing my crits to those of others. I've learned a lot since finding this site, and I feel my writing has benefited already.

    So thanks again to you, Authoress. You've made a safe haven for people who love to write. I plan to visit often.

    Cheryl S