Step by Step
Back when Kris and I attended Quattro University, co-founder and entrepreneur Cheri Tree once said there is no such thing as a self-made millionaire. The true is same for writers. It starts with all those English teachers you had in high school and college. And in my case, screen writing professors at USC Cinema/Television.
Ever since I took up writing seriously again, it’s included a whole lot of other people, the instructors in GLAWS and most importantly, the critique groups.
The first step is, of course, to write something. I started with a screenplay, the first in a trilogy, and now I’ve decided to novelize it. You can’t write in a vacuum, input along the way is important. You have to show your work to people to get an idea of how you’re doing as a writer.
My first step is to show it to my wife. Most everyone in the field will tell you family members won’t give you the best critiques. Since they love you, they will tend to love anything you do. Or at least, they won’t tell you if they don’t love it to spare your feelings. And if they are not if the field themselves, they don’t have the background to judge what is good writing and what is not. I’m blessed to have a wife who is a fellow writer and is not afraid to say, “Honey, this scene is boring.”
My next step is to put my writing through Grammely because I can’t spell. My wife catches a lot of spelling errors, Grammerly catches the rest.
The third step is to take it to my critique groups. My steampunk screenplay has been through two critique groups, and it’s interesting that each group catches different things. In my screenwriting critique group, there are two ways you can present your work. First, about fifteen pages at a time. In one group we would do a table read of those pages so the writer could hear how it sounds. This is important since screenplays are meant to be read out loud. It takes a while to go through a screenplay like this, but you get detailed feedback.
The second is to present the whole screenplay at once. With this, there is no table read, just critiques during the meeting. I did this with my steampunk screenplay after I had rewritten it based on the notes from presenting it fifteen pages at a time.
My next step is a ProCritique© at a West Coast Writers Conference. You submit the first twenty-five pages of your work in advance of the conference to a professional for a critique. It generally cost about $50.00. This is where my novel is right now. I’m going to have my novel critique group look at the first twenty-five pages before I submit it for a ProCritique©.
The idea is that if you have problems in your first twenty-five pages, you probably have the same problems in the rest of your work. I’m going to get a ProCritique© from an editor and a literally agent to get those two perspectives.
The next step will be to hire an editor to do a full edit. That is still in the future. But it is an important step before pitching the work to an agent. You want your work to be the best it can be.
I got my work cut out for me, but I’ll have a lot of help along the way.
Dennis Amador Cherry
26th article completed.
First Steampunk novel: 57,328 words.
I always tell my friends and critique groups that I’d rather have them tell me my work stinks than someone who can actually buy it tell me it stinks.