Critique Partners

A collective post from some of my wonderful CPs and me full of rambles and words of critique partnering advice!

Akshaya Raman

Hello!

Last week I was at RT with a bunch of my closest writer friends and we had an absolute blast! Because we’re all so spread out geographically, we only get to hang out once or twice a year so we really try and make those few days count. And because a bunch of us were together, I thought I’d take the opportunity to answer some questions I get frequently about my critique partners—and have them chime in with some thoughts as well!! They were all so generous with their time despite a packed schedule at RT, and I’m so grateful that they were all willing to share their thoughts!

Fair warning: this is a LONG post. But hopefully it’s a fun read/cool to see the insides of our very weird brains. Or I should say, coherent versions of our brains. In person we make a lot of very lame jokes…

View original post 3,740 more words

In The Flow

Ok. You want to know how bad it was? I’ll tell you anyways.

I went to my blog to write a quick post… and my site asked me if I wanted to sign up to follow Those Who Wander by email. That’s right, apparently 3.5 months of inactivity is about when you get signed out your own website, on your own laptop. Oops. That would be an all time record of radio silence…. ah well!

The long and short of it is: I have been writing. And rewriting. And rewriting some more. Imagine writing a cover letter for a potential employer….reading it, and discovering it’s not actually the story of your life…scrapping it, writing it again, and repeating. Now imagine your cover letter is 300+ pages long. :-O

Yeah. You get the idea.

The good news? I finally made a breakthrough last week, thanks to revisiting one of my favorite writing posts, Summarizing the Book You Wrote by one of my favorite authors/humans ever, the incomparable Susan Dennard (part of her The Basics of My Revising Process series).

The breakthrough went something like this: 

At 2:17AM on a Wednesday night, a grimy, chocolatepeanutbuttercup-fueled cave-creature writer was sprawled on the ground beneath her desk. Yes, beneath. She clung to the brightly colored mechanical pencil in her fist for dear life, and made her contacts blur before slightly crazed eyes, staring at the blank worksheet on the floor, meant to summarize her giant mess of a thrice rewritten story.

She grudgingly scratched out the opening image of her story’s world. It took an embarrassing amount of time to come up with those two sentences, but they felt right.

She repeated the process for her protagonist’s introduction. Once again, it took longer than she would’ve imagine to come up with the simple summary for the character she’d been writing about for the past two years, and dreaming about for years before then. But once she had those sentences, she knew they were the right ones. They just felt true.

Next came the inciting incident. The sparking moment for the young, story-obsessed bladesmith in the craft-rich world she’d imagined up for him. And that, dear friends, is when our half sleep-deprived writer nearing the end of her wits, had an AHHA moment:

The scene that had to come next. The only thing that felt natural. The protagonist’s pivot point, the excruciatingly tempting offer he has to consider, the moment where everything changes. The whirl of music, inseparably textured into a vivid world that surrounds it all.

The writer closed her eyes, and she finally smiled. She knew exactly what she had to do.

She had to get the heck out from under that desk, climb into bed, sleep a full night, and let that image simmer. She knew it would be waiting for her when she was ready, that the words would flow easily once she’d let the seeds of ideas float about in her mind and take root. And guess what? They did.

She woke that morning to an ease she hadn’t known in writing for weeks, maybe months. She found that inexplicable, irreplaceable feeling of rightness, when you know that you’ve found your story’s heart at last.

Somewhere in there, the writer apparently also developed a penchant for talking in the third person, but that’s besides the point.

Point is… I am writing again. On the right track, clear-focus writing, and it feels so good. I can’t even begin to describe the thrill that feeling is.

Imagine your favorite hobby in the world, whether it’s a sport, your job, a musical inclination, or just a beloved book. Picture how easy it is to lose hours of your life to the flow you enter when you’re in that zone, where the entire rest of the world drops away. That, to me, is being in my drafting cave at it’s finest.

So while I hate to dine and dash, and I’d love to babble on a bit more about my writing process/life and how it’s been over the past few months (let’s be honest, mostly lot’s of cave time/writing with a bit of lovely travel thrown into the mix)….Well, I have to get back to my book. Because, for the first time in a while, the words are flowing, and I am utterly determined to get them down on a page.

I will be traveling in a few weeks, to RT2016 (!!!) so I will hopefully post again from the road/plane/hotel. Until then, be well all! And please excuse me my upcoming social media/social anything/above-the-surface-life hiatus, again. I’ll see you all on the other side of this writing cave.

❤ Madeleine

 

 

The Dog Ate My Internet

…Or something along those lines.

Soooooo… I thought the two month mark of my dropping off the face of the blogging world would be a great time to pop in and say hi (errr… definitely nothing to do with the struggles I’m having on this current chapter or anything). This is actually just a quick hi though, not a full length post (oooops) but I figured a short stop in/explanation for my radio silence might be nice!

Alright, explanation time: Remember that time, exactly two months ago, as in the last time I posted (hides face in shame) when I mentioned I was rewriting my book? Well… yeah… see the good news about that is – I have been doing that, with a good amount of success! As in, I have drafted nearly half of this new version of book 1, as in, from scratch, drafted it, and now have a sprawling new manuscript in the works to contend with. YAYYYY THINGS ARE HAPPENING AGAIN! I love drafting!! Woohoo!!

Now, the ah, less good news, which is probably fairly obvious: I’ve had to essentially hit pause on most other things in my life (including but not limited to this blog, social media, leaving my house, seeing people other than my cat/parents, responding to texts within the same month I get them, working out -lolz we can just pretend I did that before – wearing real people clothes, being a human… you get the picture).

But, for all those whom it may concern who have missed my being partially human/out in the world (really, I’m not sure who that is, but I guess my cat wouldn’t mind if I left the house more/left her in peace once in a while – which should give you an idea of my true level of cave creatureness at the moment…) well, the second piece of slightly good/extremely terrifying news: I have a deadline to finish drafting this rewrite! And that deadline is – drumroll please – December 31.

December 31, 2015. As in 3.5 weeks from now. As in I should not even be writing this blog right now. As in sorry not sorry in advance for typos because calculating the weeks I have left just freaked me out enough that I’m definitely not going back to reread/edit this post. Oops.

SO. In sum: Sorry for dropping off, but not entirely because I did get half a book written!!! Annnnnd since that half apparently took me two months and I only have 3.5 weeks to write this second half…. BYE ALL I’LL SEE YOU IN JANUARY!!!

🙂 Happy Holidays y’all. Hope they bring lots of joy, love, and meaningful time with family and friends for everyone. See you on the otherside (of this bottomless cup of coffee and never ending writer cave).

❤ Madeleine

More BTAF Updates and Blank Book Slate

Life: Hello all! Sorry for being a day late on this posting. It’s been a good week for me writing wise, so consequently…. I got distracted from most life things, like blogging. Ooops. But basically – had an awesome time in Boston, as mentioned last week. Since then I have pretty much just been working on my book… so here are a few more Boston/Vermont photos for you!

IMG_3913
Exploring Shmarvard Yard with JanellaAkshaya,  and the wonderful Sara Raasch

And since wonderful my critique partners Akshaya and Janella have put all the dignified pics up already… guess it falls on me to put up the ridiculous ones. You’re welcome ;).

Being silly at BTAF with the lovely Adam Silvera
Being silly at BTAF with the kind and hilarious Adam Silvera

Reading: On the Boston Teen Author Festival note… I now have piles and piles of books, but I haven’t actually finished any of them this week with the mayhem of Boston and travel and rewriting…. but included on my list of up next are:

Sara’s Ice Like Fire

Adam’s More Happy than Not

Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows

Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn

Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Kim Liggett’s Blood and Salt

Mackenzi Lee’s This Monstrous Thing

Lori Goldstein’s Becoming Jinn 

…and many others! Can’t wait to give updates about these awesome new books in YA over the next few weeks :-).

Writing: Ok. So. Here we go – biggest update writing wise also may be the scariest thing I’ve done all week month year. Ready for this? Here is a quick view of my giant cork-board, and the change I put it through on Monday, before and after.

Before:

Before - plotted out scene by scene
See all those notecards? Those are all of my scenes, beautifully mapped out. Or at least, they were…

After:

GHASDKJHASHDIUHWAKS IT'S SO BLANK BUT SO EXCITING!!!
GHASDKJHASHDIUHWAKS IT’S SO BLANK BUT SO EXCITING!!!

So, as you can see, figuratively and kinda literally…. I have a blank slate! As mentioned before in my updates, I’m about to dive into another rewrite of my book and as such, I am repotting it out, from the ground up. So, rather than try to patch up what I already have, I am starting from scratch now and will add in any old scenes/plot as I go on. At least I have a friend who has camped out amid my mess to keep me company as I rewrite!

Look at me! I'm helping!
Look at me! I’m helping!

So anywhooo… that is my life in brief for the week! Sorry for another short post – seriously, next time I will discuss some of my world-building methods. But for now I am still figuring them out, as I’m doing a bit more world-building (and plot planning) this week. But next week I’ll be back to drafting, so I’ll hopefully have some retrospective insights about world-building for any interested writer buddies! Until then, be well all.

❤ Maddy

And finally, a shot of Chicago, as seen from the Lincoln Park Zoo!
And finally, a shot of Chicago, as seen from the Lincoln Park Zoo!