How to take critiques without crying – 5 steps to awesome

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Made by me using pablo…

Critiques and beta readers… they’re how our craft gets richer, our writing more fab-tabulous, and our manuscripts closer to published. But do we all know how to accept the feedback when it comes?

I didn’t.

I think I’m better now. I’ve taken a crash course in how to receive feedback. Here are my top five tips:

1. Take it and nod

Seriously people. Someone’s just taken the time to read your work and give you feedback. That’s huge. So maybe the feedback isn’t what you wanted to hear…? Continue reading

When writing and maths don’t gel: cutting your word count

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Made by me using pablo…

So, I want to shed 7,000 words from one of my WIPs. It’s about 350 pages long…

Ever the mathematician, I figured it was as simple as deleting 20 words per page and – hey presto – I’d be at my magical number.

100 pages into my cull, and I’m down 1,500 words. Roughly, that equals NOT ENOUGH.

As one of my bosses used to love to say: “Toughen up Princess”. This is not even murdering my darlings, this is just 20 puny words per page. I can do this!

Step 2 is going to be Murdering Some Of Those Darlings (hey, why hold back? entire scenes even??!), so I hope I can step up the word removal before I get to that. I want this draft to be within the accepted norm for word count for a Young Adult.

Cut cut cut!

Editing: 3 reasons why talking to yourself is NOT a sign of madness

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Made by me using pablo. Not my window. My window is far less salubrious. And has no flowers.

My office window has one metre and a rickety old fence between it and a public access side lane. On beautiful spring days like yesterday, when my window is wide open, I often worry that people walking the lane might come to the conclusion I’m mad.

Because I’m talking to myself. A lot.

Yes, it’s full-on editing time for me and my YA South American Road-trip manuscript. This is about the fourth edit I’ve given it, which means I’m reading it out aloud to myself. And occasionally then telling myself, aloud, what I need to do to fix a spot. Okay, the second bit sounds crazy. But the first is true-blue proven editing gold.

I read aloud for three main reasons:

  1. Dialogue

  2. Awkward phasing/repetition

  3. Consistent voice

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Editing: How to turn your manuscript mistakes into opportunities for awesome

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You’ve all been there. Late at night, at your desk, final check of your latest Work In Progress. You’re pretty happy. Close to hitting that big green metaphorical button that says GO FOR IT!

Then something makes you frown.

There’s a mistake… <head meets desk>

Happened to me last week. My kick-ass group of teens were driving across South America, hell-bent on getting evacuated the heck out of there because, you know, stuff was going down. But then I re-did my calculations and realised their car was going to run out of fuel 300 km before the town they actually refuel at. Ouch.

I was facing a plot crisis.

Solution? Brainstorm what to do, and reject all your initial ‘ordinary’ options

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How characters can make your book a lemon

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In the last few weeks, I’ve read two books that failed to hit the mark for me. And when I say failed, I don’t mean in a grand and epic fashion. I mean in a baffling and miserable sludge puddle.

Both books were fantasies, from bestselling authors. Fair share of hype. Great covers. Reputable publishers. Promising plots. Great writing. Rock solid world-building.

Total disappointments.

I tried, I really did. I’ve loved other books written by these authors. I read all the way through both of them, hoping to hit that point where the plot starts to consume me and the characters become real. And then the last pages came, and with them that sense of how many hours of my life I couldn’t get back.

Eager to salvage something from the mess, I pinpointed what I didn’t like about them. In my opinion, both books lemoned in two key ways:

  1. The main characters.
  2. The love interests.

And when I write it like that, it starts to make sense. So… what made these characters so unlikable?

Continue reading