Thursday, December 18, 2014

Déjà Vu Blog Fest

The Déjà Vu Blog Fest is the brainchild of the wonderful DL Hammons who is also responsible for Write Club and Blog Blitzing.  It's an opportunity to recycle an old blog post that maybe didn't get the number of eyes across it as you hoped.

This post is one I wrote back in October and I think it's worthy of being re-seen…

I've been working on an older story of mine this week.  Just pottering around with it, trying to make it work.  And because I'm not sure it is working, I started posting the chapters I've finished tinkering with up for my critique group to tear apart.

I got my first piece of feedback on my first chapter yesterday, and it was 100% spot on.

My CP pointed out that I was opening my story too soon.  That by starting my book with someone sitting in front of a computer, bored by his homework, I was going to start the book by boring the reader.  Even though the inciting incident happens in this chapter, that first scene wasn't going to compel anyone to read on.

She then said that while the inciting incident is good, it happens too soon for the reader to care.  That she needed to know the character a little better before he had his world rocked.

I agree.

I'm usually accused of having opening chapters in which nothing much happens because I always like to let the reader meet the characters and get a feeling for their world before throwing the crap at them.  With this story I'd decided forego that and jump right into the action.  I should have trusted my usual storytelling instincts.

So I went back and wrote a new chapter one last night.  Not an enormous amount happens in it, but I think by the end of it you know Tony a lot better, and have some idea of the struggles he's going to face  as the book goes on.

Having good critique partners is essential.  I can't stress that more.  You need readers you trust, readers who aren't going to be afraid of hurting your feelings if they think your work stinks.  You also need to be ready for critique, ready to accept that your work isn't as flawless as you'd like to think.

But more on that next time...

Do you have critique partners you trust?


  1. Glad you have wonderful critique partners! You were wise to listen to their suggestions. Best of luck on the rest of your manuscript! Nice to meet you through the blogfest!


  2. Yes, I definitely have CPs I trust. I also rewrote the first Ch of Soul Cutter when a CP pointed out there wasn't enough tension in it. I added the "dog-walker" and that fixed the problem! :)

  3. Great recycled post. Glad you reran it. Good CPs are essential. I've got a couple and feel really blessed. Sounds like you've got yourself at least one keeper! Probably more. :)
    Have a great holiday!

  4. wonderful. And yes, CPers are amazing. I too struggle with opening scenes. Either it's all action and not enough knowledge of my character,or it's just flat out boring. Sometimes we overthink and those second (and third and fourth...) pairs of eyes are what we need.

  5. I feel this is a double-edged sword.'d like to let the reader get to know the main character(s) before rocking their world, but you run the risk of putting your perspective agent to sleep before you get to the really good stuff. This is a burden published writers don't carry.

    Excellent choice for a re-share today! Thank you for this. :)

  6. It's a balancing act that can be hard to get right. Too little going on can be dull, but I've also seen cases where a writer will front-load chapter one with EXCITEMENT and ACTION and then spend the next four chapters in boring backstory. Or worse -- keep every chapter overloaded with action.

    Every chapter needs compelling events of some sort -- the story has to keep moving forward. But there is a bit of ebb-and-flow, tension-and-release pacing required. you build to the action and then pause and build to the next bit.

    Also -- the main point of connection for a reader in every story is characterization -- you also have to take the time to shown the reader who to care about and why.

    Like I said -- a hard balance. And good CPs who can help you get it right are like treasure to be cherished!

    Happy Deja Vu!

  7. Critique partners are invaluable! I know my writing would be about 10x suckier without mine :)

  8. You are so right about good critiques partners being essential to the process. Finding that fine line between developing the reader's connection with the main character and getting into the action is the hardest part of a beginning.

  9. Thanks for this ... CR-ers are invaluable ... as are your words in this post and the subsequent comments ...

  10. Good advice! I need to find a good CP. I'm glad to hear that you are now happy with your Chapter One! Thanks for reposting this for the Deja Vu blogfest. I'm going to start the new year on the hunt for a trustworthy critique partner. Happy Holidays!
    michele at Angels Bark

  11. Hi, belatedly catching up with the blog hop. It's good that your CP only confirmed what you knew, but sometimes we need someone else to tell us because we don't always listen to our own voice in our head :) x