The D.E.P. (Derail Every Plan) Method
I’m in two critique groups, one for novels and one for screenplays. My novel group met yesterday and chapters 4 and 5 of my first steampunk novel were up.
The great thing about being in a critique group is that, while all will comment on story structure and characters, different members tend to focus on different aspects of writing. One member pointed out how many words I used ending in “ing”. While this is not necessarily bad itself, it does call attention to itself. It reminded me of the time one member did a line edit of a couple of pages and pointed out that I used “was” seven times on a page. That is a problem because “was” is a passive voice, and you want to avoid the passive voice as much as possible.
“Ing” words tend to also be passive: “was waiting”, “was walking”, etc., but not always. It is something to watch out for.
Another member pointed out repetitive use of words. In one paragraph, where my protagonist was driving down the street, I used the word “street” three times. I should be looking for other words and ways to describe the same actions.
Some members can be very analytical – which is a good thing. I tend not to be analytical in that manner, so I miss these things. I tend to concentrate more on character arcs, motivations and reactions. “Would the character really act that way in that in that situation?” “But earlier you stated the character was afraid of…” That kind of thing.
Another concern of mine was expanding my 73,000-word novel to 80,000 words. This was on the advice of a literary agent I know through various writing conferences. A member of the group – the same member that pointed out my use of “ing” words – did something similar in a couple of rewritten chapters he submitted. With just a few added words here and there, he expanded on his character’s thoughts and scene descriptions in the middle of a battle scene without slowing the pace. In a different segment, with just a few added lines, he added depth to two characters’ long-time friendship.
These were just the examples I needed to read. You learn just as much from critiquing other peoples’ works as you do from having your work critiqued.
So what does that mean for me? If I have these issues – and can expand my word count – in these two chapters, I probably have these issues – and can expand my word count – in other chapters. I was already behind in my projected writing of my second novel, but now I’m going to have to put it aside to do some work on my first.
This will screw up my goals for the year. But while I didn’t mention it specifically in my goals, my overall goal is to get published. I have to get my novel to be the best I can do before I seek an editor or an agent. I’ve learned a lot about the art of writing, but I’m still learning.
As Tony Todaro, the president of GLAWS likes to say, “The writing’s not done until the press starts to run”.
163rd blog completed.
Second Steampunk novel: 783 words. ß I guess I’ll be putting this on hold for a while.
First Steampunk novel: 73,675 words. ß Start watching this number.
Second Steampunk screenplay: 157 pages.
First Steampunk screenplay: Need to update with notes from the novelization.
Third Steampunk screenplay: 38 pages.
“I believe I have some catching up to do. First, last Sunday Dennis experimented with ‘Best Burgers EVER!’. https://www.plainchicken.com/best-burgers-ever/?fbclid=IwAR2sCPmAsU2Rsn4fvqCuEuXfu5E0d3bpnuWW-T_nkJQVaCQNPrVe3s_exGk The teriyaki sauce gave them a unique flavor and the parmesan gave it a nice tang. I know we’ll be having these again.
Then yesterday we had Cooked Salmon. https://forbusymoms.4krecipes.com/2023/02/cooked-salmon.html Okay, the name of the recipe lacks imagination, but it’s one of the best Salmon recipes Dennis has tried. The recipe does call for some adjusting. It calls for “1 C. chopped thyme leaves. ‘1 C.”? One cup? That’s got to be a typo. Let’s not drown the surf in the turf. Dennis adjusted that to 2 tbs. of dried Thyme. Oh, and ‘1 m.’ dried oregano? How about one tsp.?
And tonight, Delicious Italian Meatloaf http://epic.lifeeasy.me/2022/12/delicious-italian-meatloaf.html and Crock Pot Mac and Cheese https://www.readowding.com/crockpot-mac-and-cheese/?fbclid=IwAR3LSiZ9xIJdUwHLH_1JPKeipGsCWRkJuUruNE-k1pogSwYF5YGF5SCcZF0 Kris called it one of the best meals of the year. The meatloaf recipe makes a surprisingly large meatloaf. It may be only be 1-1/2 pounds of meat, but there are a lot of other ingredients in it. The meatloaf started out loaf shaped, but after cooking, it looks like a mother Horta.
But that does not diminish the flavor. If you like Italian food, you will like this meatloaf, full of herbs, marinara sauce and cheeses. And the Mac and Cheese was the creamiest one to date. Forget the Kraft Deluxe Mac and Cheese, we will keep making this one.” – Vincent Reinhart