If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our March author interviews: Karen Pullen (3/1), Lowcountry Crime authors: Tina Whittle, Polly Iyer, Jonathan M. Bryant, and James M. Jackson (3/8), Annette Dashofy (3/15), Edith Maxwell (3/22) and Barb Ross (3/29).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in March: Maris Soule (3/4), and Virginia Mackey (3/11). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 3/18--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 3/25--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for pre-order.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Saved by the Critic



Recently I had a short story accepted largely because one of my critique group members pointed out that I had not clarified the monetary value of an amount of a bill for services expressed in the monetary system used at the time of the events; pounds and shillings. I know that. I knew it when I wrote the story but, like many good critics, she pointed out something so obvious that it was little short of amazing I had not seen it on my own. Adding a few words in the revision made the point I was after — the point of the entire story.

In another short story I failed to give the historical time frame. My readers assumed that the hero, who was a World War II veteran, was in his eighties. They wanted to know why the old man was bouncing around on rooftops, fighting gangsters and saving a geriatric damsel in distress. I had not intended to write geezer noir. I just forgot to mention the date of the story, which resulted in a strange and unintentionally humorous adventure.

In fifth grade English I noticed that every time a student story was read that had characters with the same first name as one of my classmates everyone perked up and looked interested. I thought I had discovered the secret of writing popular fiction. I wrote a “story” using the names of the most popular kids in class. My mother read my “story” and tried to warn me. But I had to learn on my own that it’s also a good thing to include a plot. The teacher and students made that abundantly clear. I have never forgotten it. It was good training for a writer.

Feedback about what doesn’t work in my writing is especially helpful. On occasion in my desire to be helpful in critique groups I have been known to share things I believe could be improved in, um, colorful language. I don’t mean I curse. I mean I say things like a writer. One group member started her novel’s first chapter with a cute and well-written description of a woman coming home and playing with her cat. Person after person around the table in the bookstore commented on the high quality of her writing in the scene. Then came my turn.

I suppose my word choice could have been more tactful. I said it was, “boring” and likely to appeal to “all ten people in the English-speaking world fascinated by the idea that woman might play with a cat.”

I pointed out that later in the same chapter the woman locked her weapon in a gun safe and then noticed an unexpected man’s shadow on the wall. I suggested that those events might make an opening for a mystery novel that would interest many more readers than a woman playing with a cat. Just in case you’re wondering she forgave me and we are still friends. I fact she still gives me great advice about writing.

What have critics saved you from?

10 comments:

jennymilch said...

I learned to write a coherent suspense novel with the help of agents and editors who rejected my work. It is a brutal, soul-searing process of artistic advancement. But it works. I owe an awful lot to the critics, too, Warren.

BlackBear said...

After reading my story, someone in my writing group mentioned being unsure where the "second" gun had come from. I was about to smugly point out that there was one one gun in the scene when a second person also admitted being confused by that ... and then a third, fourth and fifth person at the table noting the same confusion. Ouch!

Ramona said...

"Geezer noir"--by golly, Warren, I think you're onto something.

It's what you do wrong that teaches you. That's what I tell myself when I get back a critique pointing out all of my mistakes.

Warren Bull said...

Jenny, When an agent or an editor takes the time to make comments about why your work is being rejected that is a gift.

Warren Bull said...

BlackBear, I've had that experience too. One comment is just an opinion two comments on the same thing make it problem needing to be fixed.

Warren Bull said...

Ramona, You're correct. As great as it is to get compliments, it is pointing out mistakes that is golden.

Maryn said...

I experienced a rude awakening about how important another eye is. After two critique partners had read my book, after three publisher edits, the fourth edit discovered that my hero was sitting down to a chicken dinner. Arrgh! He'd been a vegetarian since he was ten. This is after I read the book a zillion times and others read it. No one caught that. I was totally embarrassed, but not as embarrassed as I would have been if it had gone to press without the correction.

Warren Bull said...

Maryn,

I once had character's eating fresh tomatoes at a time of year they'd be tiny green bumps months away form becoming ripe.

Pauline Alldred said...

With one of my stories, I was so anxious not to slow down the story with internal thoughts or over the top expressions of grief that my protagonist was criticized for not showing enough emotion.

I knew how much emotion the protagonsit was feeling so I worked at including emotion via body language and dialogue. That made the story a whole different read.

Warren Bull said...

One consistent problem I have as a writer is conveying what I know about the characters to readers e.g. my geriatric hero.