On Saturday morning, in my writer’s group, we had an editing workshop and critique session. I put the first chapter of my second novel Secrets and Sorrow up for critique for a second time. I used the critique the first time to make it stronger and I will use this second critique to make it stronger still.
We haven’t done much critiquing in our writer’s group. It is a sensitive subject because we must be gentle and yet if we are going to get anything out of it as writers we need things pointed out that isn’t working or could work better.
One of the things pointed out to me is my use of the rhetorical question to engage readers and ramp up tension may not be working so well. Our session was too short to get too deep into things but after our meeting, I found a blog “Kid Lit” by Mary Kole addressing this same question. The answer it seems is that the question is not a bad thing but it doesn’t go far enough. The question gives us an opportunity to deepen the story and instead of leaving the question hanging we can answer it or at least examine it a little further.
An example she gave is. Could he trust her?
How to deepen this might become. He wanted to trust her, but he didn’t. Not right now. She’d have to earn it.
The power of writing groups and beta readers is they point things out to us we don’t see. When my writing group read my first novel, one of them pointed out I had too many dogs in it. I eliminated a few dogs.
Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
This time around I am working on a tighter timeline. I had no timeline for my first novel and it ambled along year after year. I’ve set goals and timelines this time, and I am coming up against a year of working on it. I’m realizing having it ready for publication on September 5th is a stretch goal, but I am planning to have it pre-released by that date.
In order to pre-release, I need a cover so I worked on one last night. Putting people on the cover sells more books is my understanding and so I want a person on my cover. Last night I found a perfect photograph by Philip Oursel on Unsplash. What the cover will finally look like I don’t know, but I am pleased with the concept I came up with last night.
I didn’t know when I sat down after watching the last game of the Euro Cup that I would have a concept for a cover. We often don’t know what we will end up with when we sit down to do something. I only sat down to see if I could find some free photos of girls and horses. Then I thought will that photo work with the sunset photo I am thinking of using for my cover? What if I use the same fonts and color of text on this cover? By the end of the evening, I had created something I hadn’t sat down to create, but when I found the photo I had to see if I could make it work.
We don’t know what we can do unless we try and do it. Sometimes we end up with more than we expected sometimes we learned what won’t work. Either way, it is knowledge gained that moves us toward our goal. There are so many tools available to us now, not many years ago it would have been impossible to come up with a concept so easily. With the click of a button, we can make a photo more or less transparent. We can layer images to create a mood. We can remove backgrounds which I didn’t do but may end up doing. Perhaps this concept will not be the cover at all, but I have a starting place.
When we create something it feeds our soul. It might be a great dinner, a new dessert, or everyone’s favorite. We might use our creativity to create order out of chaos, create a flower arrangement that wilts in days, or a garden that lasts all summer. Sue Patton Thoele tells us, “Creativity of all kinds focuses your mind, engages your imagination, and feeds your soul.”
Is there something we long to do but haven’t gotten around to yet? Being creative is learning to play, have fun, and enjoy the fullness of life. Are we finding ways to be creative and feed our souls? Are we listening to the still small voice that tells us, try this?
Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do this every day. That’s it.
The artist never entirely knows – We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.
When I say artist I mean the one who is building things… some with a brush – some with a shovel – some choose a pen.
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