Sunday, January 31, 2010

You've Got To Be Carefully Taught

My sister is watching South Pacific in the other room as I work, can you tell?

Sometimes one does have to be carefully taught. Other times it's the casual lesson that works best.

As you all know, I've attended conferences and workshops on craft. I have dozens of writing books on my shelves. An embarrassing amount, really. And they've all helped shape my writing to a greater or lesser degree.

Then last Monday night, we critiqued Ali's full manuscript that had gone through a first revision. What a lesson there was in that. So many of the questions and comments struck home for me.

"What does this scene accomplish?"
"You need more tension here."
"Why is she doing this?"
and a biggie for me "Where is the emotion?"

Ali has done an amazing job with her story. The amount of improvement from first draft to this version is truly impressive, especially given that she accomplished it in less than two weeks. There is more for her to do (isn't there always?), but it's really really good.

I'm using what I've learned--both the more formal lessons and those important ones I've picked up giving and listening to critiques--as I read through MMG. I'm 98 pages into a 300 page manuscript. I should be done reading by mid-week. Then the dissecting begins.

Is it salvageable? Only a lot of work and a bit of time will tell.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I am now quoting John quoting John Greene:
90% of the first draft doesn't make it to the final draft.

Let us all sigh and be depressed.