This is just a very brief posting saying... I've been to the NJ SCBWI workshop today. I met some lovely ladies in my group. (Hello Joelle, Marcie, Lynette, Hallee, Lisa, and of course, Leeza!)
In case you've never been to such an event, here's what happens...
About a month before, you are assigned a small group. The ladies mentioned above were in my small group. Each small group is assigned an editor to receive a one-on-one critique with for 20 minutes. So in that month’s time, you have to mail your first 30 pages of your novel, or your entire PB MS to Kathy Temean, RA of the NJ chapter of SCBWI. AND... you have to email your pages to the members of your group.
Then over that month you read and critique all the stories as they come in (or wait until the last possible moment - whichever way works for you...) Then, on the day of the conference, armed with the critiques you have written for one another, you show up ready to share.
Everyone takes turns presenting their feedback while, one at a time, a member will quietly dismiss herself (sorry no token males were present in our group) and meet with the editor in a separate room.
Then, around, well... lunchtime, there is a lunch where we can all mingle and meet other writers or editors present at the event. Then we go back and finish our critiques.
At the very end is an open mic Q+A session with all the editors. We get to learn what they are individually shopping for, how long their personal turn around is with scripts, and their tips and tools of advice and suggestions. We, as writers, are eager to eat up every nugget of info they are willing to provide.
And at the end of the day you've made friends (or enemies – no, only kidding!) and you hopefully will walk away feeling energized, renewed, and ready to revise, revise, revise.
I, on the other hand, always walk away feeling exhausted! I need a few days to not think about it, while all the while my subconscious is percolating, and simmering, deep in thought. Then, in a day or two... or three... I read everyone’s comments. I print out a fresh clean copy and begin writing notes of what the others have said. If someone else says the same thing, I put a check next to the comment. If again, another person says it, I add another check and so on. If there are comments that don't ring true to me, that no one else brought up, then I let that comment go. I toss it, as Joelle said in her “Take it, or Toss it” philosophy. If there are comments that spark something within me, even if no one else said, I star it.
Then I open my computer, copy and paste the story onto a fresh document and save it as... whatever the title is, the draft number, and I give it a new version number. For example, my novel... is on its first draft, but 5th version - 1.5. (For me, a new version is when I make changes within a single draft. Once I get to the end, any other changes would begin my next draft. And then process begins all over again, 2.0, 2.1, etc.) So now, I save it as a new document as TITLE, 1.6. Next, I take the hard copy with all the converted notes and I place it in that story’s binder. All of my stories have their own binders. Then in the binder, I mark it, TITLE 1.5 NJ SCBWI Feb 2008 conference. The editor’s version goes in the binder too, of course, and I attach her business card and her critique, so it is altogether.
And that's my process!
Another benefit of the day is... a good number of the editors that come to these workshops do not accept unsolicited work. But once you've met the editor at an SCBWI event, you are no longer considered unsolicited for a window of time - usually a few months. So even if you met with editor A, you are still welcomed and invited to send you MS to editors B, C, and D, as well. And most promise that they WILL read your MS and WILL write a personal (rejection) letter (OK hopefully not a rejection letter of course! I was only being funny!!!!)
So if you haven't ever tried an SCBWI conference or workshop. I highly recommend it. Visit SCBWI to find your state's chapter. To have that 20 minute one-on-one wiht an editor is so worth it!