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Give and Take: Feedback

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Where do you generally get your writing feedback from?

Are you part of Wattpad, Fictionpress, Archive of Our Own, or another writing website? Perhaps you found some other like-minded writers here on WordPress, or another social media site like Tumblr or Twitter, to swap stories.

I’m lucky that I have Rachel, my sister, as a partner in this writing adventure and creative pursuits. We’ve recently swapped manuscripts, and we’re preparing to give each other feedback regarding them.

It can be a little difficult to give and receive feedback. Obviously you don’t want to have anyone’s feelings be hurt, but strong critique and the ability to take it gracefully are the best ways to help you improve your art in the long run.

Do you have any special place to get feedback? Any tips on giving and receiving feedback to share?

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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in Home

 

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Character versus Plot

Rachel and I recently started reading over a first draft of each other’s stories with the intent to give the draft an edit and critique by the end of the month. We’re reading through the stories before stabbing them with red pens so we each get a good idea as to what the story is about and how our styles work.

Granted, we’ve been writing together for years, but it’s a different thing to read a whole novel rather than a flash fiction on a Sunday blog post.

Before we both started reading, her biggest concern was her main character’s development throughout the story while I just bluntly said about mine, “Make sure it makes sense.”

When Rachel writes, she forms her plot first, characters second, having a map and sending characters to (hopefully) follow the route while recording how they respond. I’m the polar opposite, preferring to let my characters do improv on the stage of my mind before nailing down an actual plot for them.

Every so often I piped up with questions about her character, trying to figure out how, in my opinion, her character would tick and react to the events unfolding around her. Rachel would in turn ask who exactly the main character in my story was considering I tended to switch points of view with different segments.

I didn’t really have a good answer for her, as several characters could take up the mantel. The scope of my story, the cast of my characters, was large enough to warrant multiple points of view that allowed the reader to see what was happening at different points, from different places, of the story. Rachel, on the other hand, has the one main character with a whole world around to explore, get lost, and interact with.

We both just started this adventure of reading each other’s stories, and I’m very interested to see what kind of critiques we’ll both give each other.

What about you? Which do you tend to develop or focus on more in a story, plot or characters?

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2016 in Home

 

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Breaking the Habit

Have you ever gone back to read some of your old writing, get really into it, then realize that you had stopped in the middle of the story? Then you just sit there like, “What the hell? Where’s the rest?” and your treacherous brain responds, “You haven’t written it!”

I go through that once in a while, especially when I want to write but don’t know what to write, like I did yesterday. Our family had just gotten back from a weekend getaway, one where I forgot to pack a little notebook (I know, I know, but I bought a really pretty one instead!). On Saturday, my parents took a good nap while Rachel and I chilled in the hotel room. I was able to finish the book I brought with me (my second mistake was bringing only one book), and my biggest urges to write tend to come after reading.

Granted, we were only gone for two nights. One book and the lack of notebook was fine, as we were busy with other activities, but that urge was still nagging me.

Therefore, on Sunday when we had returned, I booted up my laptop and read over some of my older WIPs. I really want to focus on going through one of those drafts, sprucing it up, maybe putting it on here or Wattpad or the like to get some feedback (other than our monthly writer groups). I didn’t really write yesterday, but Rachel and I did come up with a pact to have a draft of one of our novels ready to swap with each other by the beginning of October to critique.

I have a penchant of starting new novels instead of finishing old ones. Let’s see if I can break that habit, shall we?

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Home

 

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Over-Analyzing Turtles

Has anyone else been more critical of television shows, movies, what-have-you since becoming writers? I find that I cannot just sit and watch a television show or movie anymore without over-analyzing all the characters.
(Plot is important too, of course, but that also reflects my writing style. I tend to focus on the characters first and then the plot.)
For instance, Rachel and I have been binge-watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because they are awesome (hey, don’t laugh — they were, and are, a huge part of our childhoods!). We have the first couple of seasons of the newest version of the show from Nickelodeon along with the first season of the 2003 cartoon. We tend to find ourselves discussing the characters’ personalities and motivations (along with the fact that Nickelodeon April O’Neil is a really special snowflake and how she can be annoying) while watching.
We did the same thing when we watched Michael Bay’s first live-action TMNT movie (not as bad as we thought after watching it the second time, but definitely not a favorite). We had to keep pausing the movie the first time we watched it to yell and laugh at the screen for bad characterization, plot holes, and visible cameramen.
I suppose it’s the same thing when we read books. Some character may do something that I really didn’t expect or agree with, and I start thinking about what I would have done differently had I been the writer.
Thinking on it now, this all gave me my start as a writer. Fanfiction was my first foray into writing because I wanted to play with the characters, to see what I could do with their personalities. It’s all one big circle.
 
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Posted by on August 16, 2016 in Home

 

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Feedback

Writers, once they feel comfortable sharing these precious parts of their souls, live off of feedback for their pieces. It’s fantastic whenever someone praises your story while it can be disheartening to hear critique.

I found my oldest piece of fanfiction the other day and, dear Lord, it needs to be killed with fire.

I won’t destroy it, though. As horrendous it is, it proves how long I’ve come as a writer. That, and I remember my 14-year-old self getting some of the best feedback due to that story.

I forget what exactly the feedback was since it was so long ago and the fanfiction website ate the feedback, but it was my first encounter with constructive criticism. I was touched that someone had taken the time to craft such feedback on my story which, at that point, had gotten some trolls and out-of-proportion praise from other young writers. The constructive criticism helped thicken my skin and made me want to improve my writing.

What more inspiration could a writer want?

What about you? What’s your most memorable feedback?

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2016 in Home

 

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Presenting Spilled Ink

What’s up, folks? This morning I would like to tell you about an awesome site that Rachel and I just opened together:

Spilled Ink is a site that allows Rachel and myself to interact even more with our favorite WordPress people in the form of swapping manuscripts, beta reading, book and novel discussions, and shameless self-promoting (who doesn’t love that?).

Simply put, Spilled Ink is a Proboards-hosted forum that focuses on writers of all kinds. Its aim is to help writers with their craft in the form of a laid-back, close-knit community of other writers and readers. On this site, one can post profiles as an author and as a reader, all the better to zero in on your perfect critique partners. It’s flexible regarding deadlines, beta turn-around time, and what you read and critique for others.

The most important rule of the site is respect — we are all there to share pieces of our souls with strangers, and¬†we’re sure everyone understands that feeling.

Rachel and I have met some wonderful people on this site and, through the power of the Internet, wanted to create Spilled Ink as a virtual writers group. Consider this post as your invitation and come and join us! Don’t worry — sign-up is free for all! We hope to see you there! ūüôā

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Home

 

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The Definition of a Real Job

Besides writing, one of my passions is video games. I happily follow quite a few video game-centric WordPress blogs as well as watch plenty of entertaining video game enthusiasts on YouTube with Rachel.

Recently, and I’m not going to name anyone specific here, one of the blogs I follow put up a post about a YouTuber who¬†is going to quit creating some of his videos regarding a certain video game company due to said company’s strict policies about their games being featured on YouTube in that manner. Frankly, I wasn’t too surprised because corporations can be like that, it’s their business, even if¬†I do believe that, as long as their games/works aren’t being slandered, there’s no harm in the free advertisement. (What do I know, though. I’m not a huge video game company that knows the ins and outs of that sort of business. I suppose that’s a whole other debate itself.)

What actually prompted me to start this particular blog post was one of the comments regarding the YouTuber quitting. It was short, to the point, with the commenter basically saying¬†that the YouTuber could now “get a real job.”

That pissed me off.

Here was someone blatantly disrespecting another person’s occupation and, more importantly, passion, and it was difficult¬†to fathom¬†as to why.

What is the definition of a “real job,” anyway? Is it defined by how much manual labor one puts in a specific task? Is it showing up to an office five days a week? Is it a responsibility, a duty, to a certain person or business? Why not all of the above?

Creating a steady stream of good-quality videos to keep up with consumer demands is a job. There’s the equipment to learn, there’s the¬†cost of the tech, there’s the installation, there’s the scripts to write and memorize, there’s the images and screenshots and video clips and voice overs and music and setting and editing to all mesh together to create¬†a coherent video for others to enjoy. That is labor just as a 9-to-5 office job is.

Hard labor aside, YouTubers also need to be charismatic entertainers in order to keep their views up. The basic gist of getting paid by YouTube is through the ads that play before and after their video. If their views fluctuate, so does their money. They don’t get hourly wages that are, by law, paid to them just for showing up at the office. It takes discipline to follow one’s own schedule. How simple it would be for someone not bound by a corporation’s hours to just stay in bed on a rainy day! Professional YouTubers are their own bosses, which is more daunting than wonderful. They push themselves to work and perform with only their own deadlines hanging over their heads.

While professional YouTubers are their own bosses, they have an obligation to their viewers. If they start shirking on the quality of their videos, they’re going to lose their good viewers, you know, the ones who actually give¬†decent¬†comments and critique. While in the end, YouTubers have no one to answer to but themselves, the majority of them do it to entertain. They have the guts to put themselves out there, ripe for ridicule, all for the sake of amusing¬†others. In case you didn’t know, the Internet is a scary place full of trolls! Remember how terrifying it used to be (or maybe still is) to speak in public? Here are these people voluntarily putting themselves up on a stage in front of millions of strangers, hoping that those strangers will enjoy what the YouTubers are doing just as they do.¬†If a YouTuber is able to enrapture an audience that has more intelligent viewers than those just seeking attention, know that¬†they work hard for it.

When I had decided to quit my corporation job in order to pursue my writing passion more fully,¬†my boss had said, “Okay, but what are you going to do for a job? You know, for money?” I was flustered to hear such a thing. I am fully aware of the hardships that come with writing full-time, and am working on back-up options, but I was gobsmacked at the question itself. When I had seen that comment regarding someone else’s creative passion — a comment that was so simple and so similar to what I had been (and am being) asked all the time — it hit home.

It’s a shame¬†for¬†the world¬†that creative passions, like writing or creating YouTube videos,¬†need to be proved as “real jobs.”

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2015 in Home

 

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