Posted in Resources, Writing

Scribophile

I recently joined a website called Scribophile. It’s basically a website for writers where they can post their work and have critiqued by other writers. The website utilizes a system through karma points. These points are awarded when you critique other people’s work. Through critiques, you rack up the points to post your own stories. You need 5 karma points to do this. So far, I haven’t managed to get 5 karma points yet but I’m getting there.

The stories are posted by chapters which the minimum is 3k words give or take so, I tend to read the chapter in one sitting. The website has this really cool mechanic where you can critique a work using their in-line critique option. It basically allows you to add comments and small edits throughout their work just like you can if you were editing with a pen.

There are also forums where you can discuss different topics with other writers and the Academy that provides free resources. Of course, the website also features a premium membership which cost money. However, signing up for the website is free.

While using this website, the one thing that I’ve found valuable is writing a critique. Thanks to college, I’ve had a lot of experience critiquing other’s works and so, I know how to write a critique. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’m a little rusty at it, but when I wrote the critiques, my mind shifted.

Sure, I had edited my own work but that’s nowhere near what your brain goes through when critiquing someone else’s work. It is during critiquing, that I find, that I actually – kind of – know what I’m doing. It’s a good feeling when I realize that I know what I’m talking about. While I might know everything and critiques are only, in a way, personal opinions, feedback on any work is important. You need a fresh pair of eyes.

The story gets so wrapped up in your head that you can’t really see the big picture anymore. I’ve had a lot of experience with this and, just taking a break from inside my head to read/critique someone else’s work, gave me a huge energy charge. In one instance, I realized that a writer had the same problem as me. The setting wasn’t all there and I was able to point that out which made me more aware of what my story was lacking too.

So far, Scribophile has proved, at least to me, to be a very helpful resource. While I might not be on it at all hours of the day, the time I do spend on the website has been very valuable to me. All that’s left for me to do is to get 5 karma points and post my first chapter up for critiques.

Posted in NaNoWriMo, updates, Writing

NaNoWriMo Approaches and a Few Updates

There’s only a week and a half left before NaNoWriMo and I still haven’t started planning and plotting out my story yet. Before, I wanted to write the second installation of the Half-Blood series (I’m trying to publish the first one) but now, I’m not so sure. Mostly it’s because I have another story I’m working on and continuing to work on that one through November seems like a really good idea. Then again, knowing myself, I’ll probably be working on two stories at a time.

I have a problem. I want to do too much at a time. That’s my flaw as a writer. And you know what they say, the first step is to realize you have a problem. Saying that I will focus on the second installation of the Half-Blood series. Luckily for me, I do have some part of the book planned out and I know where the book is headed. Granted, I don’t know how it’s going to end but  – actually, as I type this I just figured out how the second book is going to end – it shouldn’t be a problem. Am I going to say what it is? No. I am not. That scene can change and I don’t want to be restrained to only one possibility.

On another note, there are a few exciting things that have happened. Well, one isn’t entirely exciting. I got another response to a query I sent out . . . my manuscript was rejected. I’m not exactly discouraged but I can’t help but question my ability as a writer. I’m not the greatest and I strive to improve because that’s all I can do.

All I have to do is keep finding other agents and go back to my manuscript. Sure, I thought about the possibility that I might have to abandon this story and query something else. Yet, I want to be stubborn and continue to send out queries.

I’ve been working with Sarah Pesce and I’ve gotten really helpful comments on the first twenty pages of my manuscript. I still have those 8k words to send her and maybe I’ll even have her take a look at the entire manuscript. There are possibilities. At this point, all I have to do is keep pushing forward and hope for the best.

Posted in Methods, Resources, Writing

Beta Reading and a Thesaurus 

I didn’t spend a lot of time writing today. In fact, I didn’t do much writing. What I did end up doing was beta reading through serveral pages of acquaintances’ stories. This was mostly due to the fact that I was avoiding my computer because I used it a lot during November and I, sort of, neglected my reading responsibilities. Either way, I got through a lot of pages today.

I could have read through more but these certain pages needed many comments and suggestions on setting, sentence structure, and missing words. It’s not like I mind the extra work. I’ve told them to let me know if they don’t want me to stop picking out bad grammar. So far, they haven’t said to stop. This also helps me in a way because reading other people’s work not only gives you an opportunity to come in contact with a different writing style, you can avoid some mistakes that you may see in someone’s work and vice versa. I believe that one can always learn something from reading other’s works. 

There was one story that I read today that appeared to be vomitted on by a thesaurus. This is possibly the harshest thing that I have said. I mean it in the nicestest of ways too. It wasn’t as bad as I make it sound but there were a few words that didn’t belong there. I couldn’t even figure out what the original word was meant to be. This isn’t a warning about uaing a thesaurus but more like something to keep mind. 

Usually, I used a thesaurus so that my writing and certain words become repetitive. For example:

It’s not like this person had every word changed. It just so happened to be in one paragraphed and I had trouble figuring out what they were  to describe. You can say that this was my lesson for today.

Posted in Methods, Writing

Beta Reading

Recently, I was asked by a friend, let’s call him J, to read his story for him as a Beta reader. I’ve done beta reading before – changed some minor grammar issues – commented so, I like to say that I know what I’m doing. Plus the last 60 or so hours of college was all about reading, editing, and commenting on classmates’ work. I have experience under my belt.

There are a few things I have to keep in mind when I read over someone else’s work.

1. I read through it first.

I like to take it all in before I start to analyze a story. Mostly because if I’m confused on something and I comment on it but later the information is there then, I made a mistake. I also think its nice to just read a story and think about it afterwards.

2. Use a red pen.

Normally when I print a story out then, I tend to use a red pen. There’s nothing special about a red pen, in essence, but it helps me get into the mindset of editor.y job is to look for grammacial errors, minor mispelled words, ect.

3. Be honest but don’t be mean.

There’s a fine line between disliking something and being mean. At least that’s my opinion. In my comments, I’m honest. If I think something is cliche, I say it. However, I also include suggestions on how to fix or change whatever bothers me or I think needs to be changed.

4. With a grain of salt

I always tell the author  to take my advice with a grain of salt. Ultimately, it is up to him/her to decide what theu want to change or keep. All I can do is tell him/her about my thoughts on their story. It also helps if the author has a lot if beta readers so if there’s an issue everyone notices then that issue should be worked on.

5. Track changes.

MS Word has an awesome button called track changes. I like this because the author can see what I have changed and kept. Google Docs and I believe Drive also have a feature that let’s you see changes. This way, the author can knownwhat was changed without having to compare the documents side by side.

Lastly, my opinions and advice are my own. I don’t feel offended if an author disagrees with my comments. I’m just glad that they were willing to let me read their story.