Friday, August 29, 2008

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

The biggest lesson that I have learned from Authoress's latest contest is this:

DON'T OVER-EDIT!
That was a big one. I had what I considered a really good scene, but when you submit 250 words, it only shows an itty bitty part of that scene. So what did I do? Try and squeeze as much as I could into 250 words, editing down until I completely messed up the flow of the story. STUPID! Note to self...don't do that again!

Since I have now stopped banging my head on the desk, I will also add that I learned more from the contest, as I usually do. You can really tell the difference between people who crit your work by what they read and/or write.

The comments from those unfamiliar with Historical Romance really made some false assumptions based on a "preconceived notion" that characters and plots were all the same. They aren't...just like with any other genre, they vary according to the writer. I had one comment that stated:
"Why is it that half of the historical fiction out there focuses on a girl behaving unseemly? The men are wealthy, rakish, and handsome and all the girls just dying to kick their knickers off."

Now, while I appreciate the time this writer spent to read and give me feedback, it's hard for me to understand how he/she could make that assumption. If a girl crawling around a garden, at her OWN home, trying to repair damage that she inadvertently caused by a practical joke gone awry, means that she is "dying to kick off her knickers", I missed something. Of course the men are handsome and rakish...it's a romance novel! Wealthy? Not my guy...another wrong assumption. They shouldn't be PERFECT!

I don't want to appear ungrateful, because I love feedback, even when I don't agree with it. It makes me look at the writing to see how that assumption could be made if it's inaccurate. On the same token, I'm not going to sweat it if a few people don't "get it" or flat out don't like the work. ***Not everyone will think I am the creative genius that I claim to be!

So back to revisions again! Another benefit from these contests...MOTIVATION!

***If you didn't receive the email, newspaper clipping, or see the billboard by the highway...SORRY! I will tell you now...I am freaking brilliant! (j/k)

:) Terri

9 comments:

Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance said...

Terri,

I loved the different points of view from the blogger's comments. And I agree, that some definitely had preconceived notions of the genre.

I also understand the art of too much revision vs. not enough. When I wrote my screenplay, I had to delete entire scenes and characters because I was extremely limited to a page length. Cramming a 350 page novel into a 120 page script doesn't just slip in easily unless you're willing to hack and slash.

In the end, I lost sight of my character when I had the script professionally critiqued. I got too caught up in eliminating without transitioning and smoothing out to make the story continue to flow, even though it's but a mere shadow of its former self.

It's how we all learn, though, isn't it?

Good job!

Mary

TerriRainer said...

Thanks Mary. It is such a never ending process, learning, perfecting, and then learning some more!

:) Terri

Christy said...

OMG Terri--you crack me up! I missed the billboard, but I didn't need to see it b/c I already know how great you are! :)

Mrs4444 said...

Yes, you ARE brilliant, as your little award over there proves. I love your attitude. Writers need perseverance, and you've got plenty; good job :)

Skeeter said...

YES! Exactly! Get back to the revisions, lessons learned in tow ... get that novel published dear.

are you going to take any of Mel's classes this fall?

Best wishes,

Skeeter

Kat Harris said...

Hi Terri!

Keep your chin up.

I liked the spirit of your character in your entry. (I actually pictured Renee Zellweger's character in "Cold Mountain" when I read it.)

I noticed some things in the writing that could be fixed that might bump it up a notch.

E-mail me. We'll "talk."

Monkey Toe Momma said...

My HS art teacher always told me that "an artist always knows when to stop." Yeah right. I've had to make myself walk away and say it's finished because otherwise I'd just sit there and fuss and muss and them fook it all up. I think it's the same with any art form, whether it's painting, sculpting, or writing.

As for preconceived notions, I totally understand that. I'm a romance reader. I get made fun of by family members who have NEVER even cracked one open, and yet they think it's beneath them to read - thinking that they are poorly written or trash. How would they know? Then they turn around and watch Sex and The City. Go figure!

LiteralDan said...

Actually, I saw it on a bench at the bus stop, but since I had written it there, I didn't really need the update.

Skeeter said...

The Moore War was a little lopsided this year. Sorry about that.

Best wishes,

Skeeter