It was my turn for a critique in my writer’s group. Often I wonder when I will ever get that critique where all my fellow writers say, Bravo! It’s perfect! Don’t change a thing! Although I secretly wonder and hope for the arrival of this unlikely day, I know if JK Rowling herself was in my writer’s group, I am sure there would still be much to talk about.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my group. I wouldn’t be half the writer I am today without them. We've been together for nine months, and although that is still a short time, the changes I have seen in all our writing is amazing. I know, personally, I have grown by leaps and bounds as a result of being part of such a thought-provoking group of fellow children’s writers. We are certainly not afraid to speak our minds, say it like it is, and challenge each other when we need it. Which is why this last critique has left me speechless. OK I am never really speechless… but I was moved to secret tears and am still in awe!
My middle grade novel has been through many, many changes. This is my 6th draft and I hope my last, but I know, even as I write this, that that is most likely not going to be the case – as there is always room for improvement. In this draft, I have switched from third to first person. I normally do not write in first person, but I kept hearing my main character speak and I kept changing it to third until one day I said, Fine, you want to be in first, then let’s go. I never anticipated the huge transformation this seemingly small change would cause, but it did. I submitted my first 2 chapters the critique before this one, and it went very well and everyone agreed, first person helped me capture my main character’s voice and breathe real life into her... I was on the right path.
But this last critique…
I was really nervous. It was for a short chapter… chapter three. Chapter three follows a chapter where something momentous happens and I was afraid chapter three was too quiet. It is quiet in the sense that it is not filled with a lot of physical action, but it is filled with a lot of emotional tension. I haven’t been this nervous about a critique in a very long time. I thought for sure, I would leave thinking, Great! Now I have to rewrite the whole chapter before I can move forward. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
It was a unanimous BRAVO!
They all loved it. They were moved to tears, held their breath in anticipation, couldn’t stop turning the pages, and wanted more. Finally, my dream came true – to hear that you have emotionally affected a reader! Isn’t that what being a writer is all about – that the reader is completely absorbed and invested in your story? And like I said, this group can find a needle in a haystack! I am still on cloud nine. Of course there are always suggestions about how to make it stronger and more clear, and those obscure grammar rules, but to have affected these readers, is a dream come true.
Now to keep up this momentum for only another 20 chapters or so…