The unsung hero of the writer’s retreat

IMG_0492Joe’s Post #40 — Well, my turn came and went. I survived and found, once again, that things I think are working just fine… aren’t. Other things, though, seem to work just fine or at least that’s what I took from Paula bowing to me.

It’s exhausting work, this critiquing, sitting in a room, listening, trying to understand, writing out notes, delivering or receiving critiques. More so for an introvert like me.

But the amazing thing for me has been how much better we’ve become as critiquers. I’ve found that even when other people are on the ‘hotseat’, I’m busy writing notes about how to make my own story better.

Things like…

“Don’t delay information too long, it drives the readers nuts.” Hmmm, this one may apply to me as well.

“Characters are more than just a page of details and features, they are a sum of their past and their experiences and their hopes and fears.” (Wait, can I quote myself?) Either way, I have one character I may need to take a look at.

“Put characters in motion.” I love this. All characters in my novel who sit and have tea will now be shot.

It’s remarkable, really, how it’s easy to see what opportunities exist in other people’s writing and yet, in our own, we’re completely blind sometimes.

The trick, I think, will be to walk away from here and remember what makes good fiction when we’re writing. We don’t have to be perfect, but we have to be good enough to entertain, to draw the reader in and not let that book get put down.

So, on to the unsung hero of the retreat. Poor Vegas the dog got dragged up here and though she has had some adventures in the woods, this is not her home and she has had to be vigilant about guarding the room against maids, coffee deliverers and, while she has not actually seen any…  bears.

However, she has had one very important job. Choosing who reads out their critique first. The video show this, I hope. And though it goes dark at the end, you can still hear me shouting, “Let go!” as we try to retrieve the name.

Good times.

Lots of hard work ahead, though.