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Writer-Editor challenge

Discussion in 'Writing Groups' started by 2WayParadox, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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    I joined this forum to improve my craft and part of my craft as a writer is self-editing. I feel like I notice quite a few things about the things I have written and I do make some changes, but it all happens intuitively. There's no real understanding of the nuts and bolts of fiction writing involved.

    Since I'm looking to self-publish, being good at self-editing will save me money on professional editing. This challenge is a way for me to gain some experience with the things underlying fiction, in a way I probably couldn't by editing my own work.

    Here's my proposal:
    • I am willing to edit one novella of 30k-50k words, bear in mind: I'm an amateur.
    • In return, those writers that want to have me do this for them have to do the following:
      1. Provide a one page summary of your story.
      2. Provide an elevator pitch (see below).
      3. Make sure that your story is polished.
      4. In short, treat me like you would treat an actual professional editor. Provide a pitch along with the materials I mentioned above.
    This might sound demanding, but if you think about, doing these manageable steps will force you to (1) clarify your story and (2) make your story better and more sellable. Remember: if you send a turd to your editor, there's not much he can do with it. A polished turd is still a turd.

    An elevator pitch for an entertainment product should consist of four components:
    1. Your product name and category
    2. The main character’s ambition
    3. The conflict he or she encounters
    4. The real significance of the story

    Here’s an example from a mythical project about the modern composer, Eric Whitacre:

    I am shooting an [Component 1] inspirational documentary called Cloudburst. [Component 2] It is about a young, extremely gifted musician who dreams of becoming a symphony conductor. [Component 3] The only problem is he can’t read music. As a result, no one in the music business will give him a chance. [Component 4] Yet he ultimately succeeds because of his honesty, optimism, and hard work.

    Even if you think I'm stupid for proposing a thing like this, do the writer bit for your story.

    To keep this thread from being cluttered, send your submission to [email protected]. If there has been some response, I will announce the novella that will be edited on January 10th.
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Not stupid at all. So un-stupid, in fact, there are entire web sites devoted to exactly what you propose. Try a search on "critique circle" and you'll see what I mean.
     
    2WayParadox likes this.
  3. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
  4. cupiscent

    cupiscent Sage

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    I've never used Critique Circle but it seems to be a good and well-established community. I have used Critters, and got heaps of critiques from readers who were paying attention and interested in writing - plus getting to really stretch my own critiquing muscles in return. Which is a great way to get thinking about the nuts and bolts of stories.

    You may also be interested in Holly Lisle's "Readers meet writers" project, but that seems to be still in the developmental phase - I don't think people are actually swapping services yet.
     
  5. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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    Did you turn in a full manuscript? Because I don't think handing in a manuscript in 5000 word chunks is all that useful? I mean, it might be, I just don't know.
     
  6. cupiscent

    cupiscent Sage

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    You're absolutely right, so Critters has a system where you submit the first chunk of your novel and then ask for dedicated readers for the rest of it. I've never done that myself, but I did dedicated-read for someone else during my time participating at Critters. To be honest, I don't know how great a system it is for a whole novel. With something like that, you sort of want a reader who is a "good fit", who likes the sorts of things you do and will probably be interested in what you're doing with your novel. The novel I dedicated-read for was not my sort of thing, and I kept butting heads with the author's intent because of it. But maybe careful use of the system could work around that!
     
    2WayParadox likes this.
  7. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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    Thank you, cupiscent, this is very useful information and hearing your comment makes it even more clear to me that defining your book is key.

    I think I will join Critters.

    Because, at the same time you're getting beta readers, you're reading yourself and you're getting better at editing/proofreading. All it takes is time (I say as if it's no big deal).
     
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Time is indeed the killer. I did both Critters and Critique Circle, and I found both were useful. And that both were a significant time commitment. That said, I do think such services are a useful, though not necessary, step in a writer's development. Or, rather, that doing what you originally suggested--exchanging critiquing with fellow writers--is a useful step. In the old days, one had to dog around town looking for such groups, or spend the money to go to a writing convention to look there. The Internet has greatly expedited the hunt, so one might as well take advantage of it.

    For myself, at least, I came to a point where I was looking more for a stable of beta readers rather than just tossing my line into the pond. I have yet to develop that circle but I'm working on it. I've read from other writers that having such a group is invaluable over the long haul.
     
  9. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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    True, regular beta readers are something on every beginning writer's wishlist. Maybe all it needs is asking, but still I'm not really sure how to go about it.

    I don't know if I'm going to keep doing something like critter for a long period of time, but I will definitely do it for a while and see what I get out of it.
     
  10. evanator66

    evanator66 Minstrel

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    I've got a friend who will beta-read all of my work. Yay for bookworm friends!
     
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