Are We Being a Responsible Novel Parent or a Deadbeat Book-Daddy?

So this is the year. You are finally going to do it. You’re going to write a…no, you are going to finish that novel. How many of you have a bazillion ideas whirling around your gray matter at all times? How many of you have at least a half a bazillion ideas started and left unfinished? They are lurking in your documents, smoking and picking on the short stories. Maybe even writing gang tags on your recycle bin. The Unfinished are a miserable lot. Their lives began with such hope and promise, but then they were abandoned without so much as a good-bye. We are their deadbeat parents, promising that this weekend we’re going to spend quality time with them. But, we don’t. Why? Most of us are skilled at making babies, but we fail big time when it comes to being good parents capable of nurturing an embryonic idea to a successful novel.

Like “parenting,” we writers need to learn certain skills and gain good habits. We aren’t magically mystically born knowing this stuff. This is why I get such a bee in my bonnet when writers won’t say with pride, “I am a writer.” No aspiring. Aspiring writers aren’t responsible parents. They are the “Deadbeat Book-Daddy” of the writing world. They hang out with their writing when it is convenient and fun, and fail to stick it through when stuff gets hard. They don’t invest time, money, and resources into nurturing their work and maturing it into something they can be proud of and brag about.

My novel graduated today. She will be published this summer. Oh, I never thought I would see that day. *sniff, sniff*

And I am not busting your chops. I have a fair amount of Unfinished lurking in my computer too. They hang out with the spam cookies and send me e-mail about my inheritance in Ghana. But, I love them. They are mine. Some will one day be able to go to reform school. Others? Yeah…..we just won’t talk about them. They drool and say Baby Ruth a lot.

No one is going to fault any of us for making bad babies in our ignorance. My blog lessons, however, are here to educate you about how to take an idea and then lay a plan to grow it into a thing of beauty.

We have spent two months talking about structure. If you are new to the blog and want to write a novel, I highly recommend you go back and read the Structure Series so you have the tools to sally forth with the rest of the class.

Part of why ideas get started then abandoned is that writers really don’t get instruction about how to do this novel-writing thing. We believe we are born to write and for some reason that we should already know what we are doing. In our pride, we take off writing, then wake up one day and realize that we have painted ourselves into a corner. This is the point where most of us will do one of two things. Some of us will just give up and wait for the Inspiration Fairy to visit us in our dreams with all the answers. Others of us (yes, I have done both) will at this point (normally 30,000 words in) whip out the Literary Bond-O putty and slather that crap on until we have a “finished” novel that is so complex we don’t even understand it. Why? Because we had to create a secret government conspiracy, an evil twin for our evil twin and a rip in the space-time continuum all to explain why our protag wasn’t where she needed to be on page 100.

Here is the blunt truth. You need to be taught your craft. We all do. People with natural musical ability don’t feel they are “cheating” if they learn how to read music or take voice coaching. And I know all your family will believe that writing is easy, because, yes, even a chimpanzee can make a sentence.

All right. Enough of that.

So, no more Deadbeat Book-Daddy, and hello Responsible Writer Parent. Today we are going to talk about ways your novel can be hijacked, despite your best intentions. Many of you, in an effort to be a Responsible Novel Parent will go out and join a critique group. Excellent…but beware. I am going to explain how traditional critique groups can hijack your dream of being a novelist. But, I will also tell you how to side-step these problems and use the critique group to its maximum advantage.

Critique Groups

This is my opinion, so take it for what it is. I’m right :D–ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Seriously. Traditional critique groups have some strengths. First and foremost, they can clean up a new writer’s prose. When we turned in that high school paper with 60 glorious metaphors on page one, we got an A. Why? Because our teacher’s goal was to teach us how to use a metaphor properly. Her job was not to train us for publication in New York.

In a good traditional critique group you will learn that POV does not mean Prisoners of Vietnam. You will learn to spot passive voice. You will hopefully learn self-discipline in that you need to attend regularly and contribute. You will forge friendships and a support network.

The problem with traditional critique groups is that they lack the ability to properly judge the quality of a novel. Once a week reading fifteen pages only cleans up shoddy prose. Traditional critique groups are looking at a work the size of a skyscraper with a magnifying glass. They lack the perceptual distance to see flaws. A novel can have perfect prose page to page and yet have catastrophic faults.

Traditional critique groups can hurt you in the following ways.

Get you in a habit of over-explaining—In a traditional critique group, those sitting at the table can’t see the big picture. It is hard to pick up a story on page 86 and understand what is going on. Our fellow writers care about us and believe if they don’t say something that they aren’t helping. Thus, they will say things akin to, “But how did Cassandra end up in a meat locker wearing Under-Roos and wielding a chainsaw? I’m lost.” Well, duh, of course they are lost. They have missed the last three weeks and haven’t been keeping up with the story. So learn to resist the urge to over-explain in your prose. Your job is to write a great novel…not 600 individual sections your critique group can follow.

Book-by-Committee—Not everyone’s opinion is equally valid. If you are like me and lean to the people-pleasing side, you can get in a nasty habit of trying to please your critique group at the expense of the big picture. Learn discernment and how to stick to your guns, or you will end up with a book-by-committee, also known as Franken-novel.

False sense of security—We must always be looking for ways to have our work critiqued by professionals who are willing to be blunt and who possess the skill set to see our errors. Don’t join a writing critique group simply because they say they are a writing critique group. Look at their credentials. How many traditionally published authors has the group produced? I’m not picking on self-publishing, but self-publishing doesn’t have the same rigorous peer review. How many people in the group are career writers, authors, or editors? Gathering together because we love writing is always a great idea, but if the group is solely comprised of hopeful unpubbed writers, the critique will be limited. Limited is fine, so long as we make sure to reach beyond our group for additional critique.

 Also make sure this group is producing successful novelists. I began Warrior Writer Boot Camp because my old group of six years produced many successful articles, short stories and NF, but they had never produced a successfully published novel. I knew I had to create a different critique format capable of critiquing a leviathan work of 100,000 words.

Some writers naturally understand structure, and so they do fine in the traditional setting. I didn’t naturally understand structure, and my novel ended up on so many bunny trails I needed a pack of plot-sniffing dogs and a GPS to find my original idea. If you are the same, then make sure you take traditional critique for what it is…critique of prose. You might need to find or start another group on your own dedicated to looking at the big picture.

Or…be creative. If you can’t go to the mountain, make the mountain come to you.

Modify the content you bring to critique. Instead of bringing the first fifteen pages of your novel, write a fifteen page synopsis based off what you did when you were plotting with the index cards (discussed last week). Every scene card had a one-sentence summary, so writing a synopsis now should be a piece of cake. Write your one-sentence log-line at the top so they can critique that too, and also so they can make sure your synopsis supports the log-line.

Let your brilliant writer friends chime in on what they think of your story as a whole. Is it contrived? Is it convoluted? Boring? Does this synopsis sound like a book they are dying to read? Can they tell who the antagonist is? Is your antagonist dumb or the stuff of greatness?

Once you have your novel as a whole critiqued, take it to the next step. The next week take Act One and write a fifteen page synopsis of what happens in Act One. Get critique. Clean it up. Then, take Act Two and Act Three and do the same. Write fifteen page synopses about what happens in each act. Then take it to the next step. Break your act into scenes and write a summary of what happens in each scene.

This way you are cleaning up your concept. You are going beyond the prose. Your fellow writers NOW can help you by brainstorming better ways to build your mousetrap. They can offer insight into how to fix the idea before you invest the next year writing a book that is doomed from day one because the original idea needed to be fortified before it could support 60-100,000 words.

Once you have solid critique on all these summaries, take off and write that novel. Now it will be way easier because you know where you are going. Also, because your writer friends helped in the planning phase, they will be better trained to see flaws once they critique your final product. They will know why Cassandra is in the meat locker wearing Under-Roos and wielding a chainsaw.

I am going to warn you. This method will test your mettle. In traditional critique, we can hide behind our pretty prose. Concept Critique means laying our baby out there bare bones, warts and all. This will show you why you are in a writing group. Is it because you really want to succeed at this writing thing? Or, are you like me? I wrote really awesome prose and I got to hear every week how wonderful I was (even though the big picture was fatally flawed). I had to check my ego at the door when I started WWBC. Now I couldn’t hide. My ideas and story took a beating…but produced a final synopsis/outline that was brilliant (mostly because of my brilliant writer peers).

Being a Responsible Novel Parent can be tough on the ego. We have to face up to our “kid’s” problems and then look for ways to fix them. This means admitting we don’t know everything and being humble enough to look for genuine outside help.  Does our “kid” have Novel ADD and go off on a zillion bunny trails? Does our “kid” have Story Autism? It’s in its own little world and not connecting with outsiders? Novel Development Issues are not a sentence for our “kid” to be one of “The Unfinished.” Concept Critique will help diagnose these developmental issues, and then give you ways to solve them so your novel can have an excellent life and be a “kid” any writer parent would be proud to claim…and brag about…a lot.

What are your biggest “Novel Parenting” issues? Problems? Concerns? What do you feel about critique groups? Are they helpful or do more harm than good? Do you guys have ideas for other ways you could re-tool a traditional critique group to be able to better see the big picture? I love hearing from you guys. 

Happy writing!

Until next time…

Give yourself the gift of success so you can ROCK 2011. My best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books. Put that gift card you got for Christmas to good use, ;).

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  1. #1 by Mindi Anderson on December 27, 2010 - 4:47 pm

    Being a newly dedicated writer, this post was eye-opening for me. I will have to check into some critique groups. Thanks, Kristen!

  2. #2 by alberg137 on December 27, 2010 - 4:57 pm

    The problem I’ve had in my limited experience with writers groups is that it’s hard to find one in my area where the writers are really serious about their work. And by serious I mean serious about getting published. For many people who write it’s just a hobby, a every-once-in-a-while maybe-it’ll-go-somewhere-someday kind of thing. Even online it can be challenging to connect with people who are actively working toward some kind of tangible success as writers.
    Am I missing something? Where do I connect with people looking to find true success?

    • #3 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 27, 2010 - 5:17 pm

      Yeah…that’s a real problem. There are a lot more people who are in love with the dream of being a pubbed author than the work involved. Google is your friend. Do a search for writing conferences held near you and the writing group supporting that conference. Generally, if they are professional enough to host a conference then they are serious. The DFW Writers Workshop is an excellent example. Other than that? Trial and error. Meet other writers who are serious on-line and form your own critique group. That is the beauty of Concept Critique. Most writers love books. Thus, they are skilled enough to tell you if your idea is a winner or not. The question will then be whether they can be honest and blunt. But skill set isn’t as much of a problem.

  3. #4 by Marilag Lubag on December 27, 2010 - 5:25 pm

    I love your comparisons of responsible parent and baby daddy. :-) I used to have a habit of slathering things once I hit 30,000 words but not anymore. I set it aside and wait for two weeks, then I revise. It’s still the same thing but I just add details. It seems to be working especially once I get into what the building looked like and what the character feels, tastes and smells. Otherwise, it would be like most of my cooking experiments–a pile of goo that nobody but me could eat.

  4. #5 by Manon Eileen on December 27, 2010 - 5:35 pm

    Hi Kristen, thanks for another great blog :)

    I have an online writing group. Basically, it exists out of myself and a friend and we are very capable of supporting each other and critiqueing our work. We’ve had other people join our group because we wanted to expand it a little, but we’ve found that most of them never even actively participated. It’s really sad when you’re trying really hard yourself and then have to face someone else’s extreme unmotivated..ness. It’s very depressing and demotivating, actually.

  5. #6 by Kate Tate on December 27, 2010 - 6:13 pm

    I have been fortunate to have found a critique system where each partner (including me) has her own strengths – one would be grammar and punctuation, one is great with characterization and character motivation, one keeps me honest about my dialogue tag lines and word echoes and leaves little “need this?” messages through all my muddling, and others are great with the actual plot of the story and whether it feels “realistic.” And then I have my “fans,” the guinea pig/beta readers who tell me with great honesty whether they would buy my work and if not what I could change to make them more interested. I suppose, if we could all roll into one personality, we would be the perfect author with no need of a critique group. :-)

    • #7 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 27, 2010 - 6:18 pm

      As an editor for years, I was highly skilled at picking apart the work of others, but when it came to my own stuff, I suddenly developed “tunnel-vision” and needed a place to get out of my own head. WWBC is a Concept Critique group at heart and that has been a MUCH better format for me and my writing. Sometimes we need help in the “building stage.” Just critiquing a work after it is completed is limited. And yes, it would be nice to be born brilliant and do it perfectly from the get-go LOL. :D

  6. #8 by timkeen40 on December 27, 2010 - 6:27 pm

    Once again, sound advice. If I could make a million for every unfinished master piece I have lying around on paper or stored in computer bytes, I would undoubtedly not have to work again.

    Good post.

    Thanks,
    Tim

  7. #9 by Kerry Meacham on December 27, 2010 - 7:01 pm

    I just started reading your blog yesterday, and I’m so glad I did. What you mention about others being lost is so true. I just started with my first critique group two weeks ago. I didn’t want to start at the beginning of my novel, but I found that I was explaining way too much in order to bring them up to speed. Therefore, I make a 3-4 sentence synopsis of the story to that point and a quick list of the characters involved in the scene being critiqued. That gives them a basic understanding before we start. Interestingly enough, I find it helps me think through the scene beforehand as I have to make this information as concise as possible. It keeps the critique on point rather than explaining the Under-Roos and chainsaws. Maybe this will help others who are in traditional critique groups.

    On the subject of WWBC, do you have standard rules for this type of group when you meet? The concept sounds very interesting to me. I’d like to hear more, or point me toward an online group or two that I can check out. Thanks again for a great post.

    Regards,

    Kerry

    • #10 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 27, 2010 - 7:22 pm

      WWBC is a different kind of group. There are 12 Evolutions every writer has to perform that take him from idea to completed novel. What we critique are the evolutions. Some evos the writers cook right through. Others might have to be repeated quite a few times. Every writer starts by telling the group her long-term career goals. Wanting to write three books a year for category romance will get different critique than an author who aspires to the Pulitzer.

      Then the writers progress to character backgrounds. Attendees write super-detailed character backgrounds (15 pages is standard), beginning with the Antagonist, then Protagonist, then Allies, etc.. This gets all the backstory out of the writer’s system and also helps them really get to know their characters. We at WWBC then critique characters. Are they interesting? Are they dimensional? Are they psychologically consistent? Do they have logical and interesting goals? Are they flawed? Can they arc? Are they too perfect? Do the Protag and Antag mirror appropriately? (Antagonists are usually the dark side or photo negative of your hero).

      Then we critique log-lines. We help the author whittle the idea down to one solid, interesting sentence. Once that is completed, we start with the plotting process in the next evos.

      Members critique the concept. We send out our evos by Wednesday so everyone in the group has time to look it over. Then we meet and whip out the whiteboard and start digging in. This is a very similar format to the way Hollywood does screenplays. In WWBC we are going to assume your prose is strong, and our format is to get the best story possible. Sometimes your colleagues will think of way better stuff than you can. Does that answer your question?

      • #11 by Kerry Meacham on December 27, 2010 - 8:15 pm

        I understand the process better now. Thank you. I’ve written poetry, songs, and short stories in the past, but I’m a newbie to the novel game (rooooooough first draft of first novel). Is there a place to find critique groups like WWBC either locally or online? It seems most of the ones I’ve found locally are of the “standard” critique type. These definitely help me, as I am working on strengthening my prose too, but I would also like a process driven group that WWBC seems to incorporate. Any help you can give me is greatly appreciated.

        Thanks,

        Kerry

        • #12 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 27, 2010 - 8:22 pm

          Well, if you are close to Fort Worth, TX, you can come to WWBC Alpha Team. I have an on-line workshop running (Bravo Team), but I probably won’t be starting Charlie Team until early spring. I have to get our current members through plotting. I started WWBC because I didn’t like the standard format. It didn’t work for me. My goal with WWBC Bravo is to run people through the on-line version so they can learn the process…then they can go duplicate the program in their own city. Gather writer friends together and build THEIR own A-Team as the new team leader.

          I like to think of myself as a Green Beret. I am only there for a time, but teach writers how to do for themselves.

          Ok, a Green Beret who wears sparkles and lip gloss :D.

      • #13 by Kerry Meacham on December 27, 2010 - 9:51 pm

        For some reason I can’t reply to your reply below. Regardless, I am in St. Louis so Fort Worth isn’t an option. I am interested in your Charlie Team in the spring. I assume you’ll post that once it opens up for participants?

        Thanks again,

        Kerry

        • #14 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 27, 2010 - 9:57 pm

          I have to limit the size of the group, so I will e-mail you ;).

      • #15 by Kerry Meacham on December 27, 2010 - 10:42 pm

        Perfect. Thanks Kristen.

  8. #16 by bill hubiak on December 27, 2010 - 8:01 pm

    First allow me to thank you. I purchased an e-book version of We Are Not Alone, used it as a guideline to create my first blog, and published it this morning. Before reading your book, I knew absolutely nothing about blogging – including what a blog was. I look forward to each of your new postings to help further educate myself. I’ve so much to learn.

    Your current blog is spot on target regarding the pros and cons of critique groups. Participation in a group really helped me edit my first two novels, made me feel comfortable in my writer’s skin, and was particularly useful in identifying points of confusion for my readers. Our small group was composed of writers with thick skin who could both dish out and accept critique without any drama and so we had a had a special chemistry. I think chemistry is the key. I am working on novel #3 and the remaining members of our group have reconvened after a several year hiatus to help again for which I am eternally grateful.

    Keep those informative blogs coming.

    • #17 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 27, 2010 - 8:12 pm

      Awww, thank you! A good critique group can make all the difference in the world. I spend three to six hours EVERY Saturday with some of the best people in the world.

  9. #18 by Shellie on December 27, 2010 - 8:04 pm

    Wonderful post. I will start searching Google for a critique group in Boise. Is it better to have an face-to-face group or an online group?

    • #19 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 27, 2010 - 8:10 pm

      Thanks! There are advantages to both. On-line groups link together people across vast distances. Also, depending on the workshop structure, you can get to material on your timetable. I think you lose some of the closeness of a face-to-face group and it is easier to slack off when you’re on-line. But both have advantages and disadvantages. As I told another reader, google conferences in your area and find the sponsoring critique group. If you write romance look and see if RWA has a chapter close to you. They are very professional.

  10. #20 by Alannah Murphy on December 27, 2010 - 8:43 pm

    I tried a writing group and hated it, absolutely hated it for more reasons than I can say here. I think, it’s important you end up int the right writing group, so perhaps, it’s best to do research on them. The one I had ended up in, consisted of people who were happy to read each other’s stories backwards and forwards and sip tea and not much else. They all treated writing just as a hobby and nothing to be taken too seriously, It was more of a social thing. That may work for others, but it was horrid for me. Online groups may work, if you get the right group of people together. I think it’s best to end up with people who have similar goals to you, and perhaps, also read the same genre as the one you are writing. I know that I would not be interested in reading Romance novels to critique because they are not my cup of tea, and whilst I would still be able to give advice, it would be hard for me to take time to read such novels. Maybe I’m a writing snob lol.

    • #21 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 27, 2010 - 8:48 pm

      That is actually the benefit of Concept Critique. Stories are stories. In WWBC we have thriller, suspense, romance, YA, fantasy. You name it. Having to critique all genres makes you stronger at your craft. All stories have fundamental parts. The benefit to Concept Critique is that you can talk about the idea without having to endure the writing. I have a hard time paying attention when reading literary fiction, but I can dive right in and give critique on a lit piece’s “essence.” You are definitely correct, though. Great writing groups are tough to find and a gem to have.

      • #22 by Alannah Murphy on December 28, 2010 - 11:45 am

        I do admit, I detest reading other genres that I am not keen on but I definitely see the advantage and how it would make you stronger at your craft. Concept Critique does sound much better than the horror I experienced and maybe one day, I’ll be lucky to find the right writing group because writing sure is a lonely business, you need all the support you can get :-)

  11. #23 by Nigel Blackwell on December 27, 2010 - 8:54 pm

    Had to grin at the line “Most of us are skilled at making babies,” then check to make sure I was reading the right blog :)

    I think arty people are, almost by definition, the worst type of people to fit into the completer-finisher mold that’s need to piece together a story on principles that they have learnt.

    You mentioned the time spent in a critique group on Saturday morning. That is the biggest cost of all. Not the price of the joining a group (even though I appreciate money doesn’t grow on trees ):
    It’s several hours a week, every week. Learning, not writing, helping others and not making progress on your own work. Consistency, a willingness to learn and a willingness to expend the effort to learn are the most important things in making a writing group successful. That and a decent cup of Earl Grey.

    • #24 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 27, 2010 - 8:56 pm

      More like a pot of Earl Grey, LOL. Cool that we now have a location with its own coffee bar, ha ha ha ha ha :D. I totally agree.

  12. #25 by Piper Bayard on December 27, 2010 - 10:39 pm

    Great post, Kristen. I don’t have tons of experience with critique groups. In fact, until WWBC, I’ve studiously avoided them. I think the most meaningful critique partner, though, is someone who knows what they are talking about, understands your concept, and doesn’t use your work as an excuse to pump themselves up with vanity. Thanks for the guidance. All the best.

  13. #26 by Thaddeus Dombrowski on December 27, 2010 - 10:48 pm

    Kristen,

    I belong to a critique group. It has been a very good experience. When I first went, they opened my eyes to just how bad my writing was.

    I think the points you make about the downside of critique groups are valid. By the third week I started to see that some of the feedback was due to the myopia of evaluating only seven or eight pages out of a complex story. Once my writing started to cause arguments, among the veterans, about whether something worked, I started to take all of the feedback with a grain of salt.

    One of the things I like about going to the writing group each week is that it motivates me to produce something. Peer pressure is great, especially as you get to know the regulars and you see them producing quality work, week in and week out.

    Another bonus for me has been reading works that, on the surface, can be very polished. But, there is something about the story, as I hear it develop over time, that isn’t grabbing me. It gets me thinking about what could be the problem, and how to fix it.

    I do see the need for finding authors who are publishing novels, and I will look for those opportunities. In fact, I just got invited to another group up at a Christmas party where I had the chance to meet a couple of other writers, one of whom has two non-fiction books to her credit. Evidently, there is a writer in that group who has published quite a few novels.

    I have been reading books regularly on writing, and I have been taking the advice to heart. But, without having a critique group to point out that my scenes are flawed, even after reading about scenes, or that my characters are still two-dimensional, after studying how to create dynamic characters, do the lessons from my reading start to sink in.

    • #27 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 27, 2010 - 11:06 pm

      I think critique groups are wonderful, but if you aren’t careful and mindful, you can pick up bad habits. I still have to watch that I don’t over explain in my prose, LOL. I am happy you have a good critique group. They are worth their weight in gold for sure. I always recommend writers to the DFW Writers Workshop. I had to start a group that did concept critique because my problem wasn’t the small picture (scenes), it was the big picture (acts/plot). I would attend week after week and people all loved the writing…but none of the works had a solid overall plot. Being an editor, I knew how to “write,” I just didn’t know how to write a novel. I think most critique groups presume we know how to plot, when the truth is most new writers don’t. So the career path becomes years of failure until you finally understand. I know. Been there and got the T-shirt :D. Thanks for being a faithful follower and all the best with your novel and this new group! I think the more input the better. Read all the books you can. Subscribe to all the writing magazines. Read blogs. You will be better for it!

  14. #28 by Susan Bischoff on December 28, 2010 - 2:23 am

    Another great post, Kristen. I love the idea of taking a synopsis, and then, like, what–sub-synopses? for critique before putting all the time into an entire novel that comes out a convoluted mess. Or, worse yet, never gets finished because the writer doesn’t know what happened, or how to fix it, got discouraged and gave up. Those things are just painful.

  15. #29 by Twisk on December 28, 2010 - 2:25 am

    Got 28,000 wds and found out I had created a monster. The character I led off with got barbequed and I had to put the protag in charge. Had to create an enemy for him, but was so involved in getting the protag moving the antag was a mere shadow. The worst part was I had background characters who could carry parts of the story. I’ve shelved it and deconstructed an old short story and built a story that I can control. The other story is lurking in a binder. I can hear it at night.

  16. #30 by Kait Nolan on December 28, 2010 - 2:49 pm

    OMG I loved this. Thanks for my belly laugh for the morning. I think every book, like individual children, really has its own personality, its own issues. My most recent project was like that kind of dull kid, that’s technically correct and polite or whatever but really kind of lacked the spark that a really SPUNKY book does, you know? It was an academic exercise of a sort to prove I could do a certain thing and to try to avoid being an irresponsible parent who didn’t finish because it got hard. I’m still on the fence about whether that was a good thing or not and either way I’m on to the new project, but I absolutely believe 100% in structure and that’s been my biggest growth in the last 3 years is learning it. Thanks for a fresh view!

  17. #31 by Terrell Mims on December 28, 2010 - 2:50 pm

    I want my child to grow up and leave the nest so I can have another baby. (Which is. I rush so I can get to the next book.) I have to let my kid…novel be a kid and slow down.

  18. #32 by ekcarmel on December 29, 2010 - 12:34 pm

    Deadbeat Book-Daddy – I LOVE it! Unfortunately, I am quite familiar with the concept. While I’m not quite up for looking for a critique group yet, I plan on going back for your posts on structure. Boy, do I need that! Thanks for a little entertainment with your information – I always learn best that way!

  19. #33 by kayspringsteen on December 29, 2010 - 12:58 pm

    One other thing about a critique group, is that there are multiple possibilities for assistance with writing. My own group is structured in a nonstructured manner.- if we feel we have a specific problem (my latest was the feeling that my characters were paper dolls on plastic stands), we can brainstorm some of the problems. Because mine is a somewhat smaller group, we tend to read the entire MS a few chapters at a time and work with each other through the entire process. This limits us as far as getting a lot of different input, but we are all strong writers with individual strengths and so far our finished projects are very clean and solid. Sometimes I think a beginning writer will do well to find a smaller group where members can act as mentors through the process, as well as providing encouragement. Sometimes less input from others is better, especially since in the larger groups I was in, I had no idea what to do with sometimes conflicting advice.

  20. #34 by jasonamyers on December 29, 2010 - 9:30 pm

    WTF!?!?!?!

    Stop burying the lead, Lamb!!
    Someone snapped up your book? Seriously? And it got ONE DAMN SENTENCE!@?!?!#@%#@%

    Let’s hear some super excitement here! Don’t be a calm, cool, collective, Riley….JUMP AND DOWN!!

  21. #35 by A.J. Zaethe on January 2, 2011 - 5:39 pm

    I would have to say that my biggest issue is the whole. Let me get back to it later. Currently. I am lost. Current story was suppose to run as a single novel. It was recently divided into a trilogy. Now I am restructuring the monster it has become, imagine. “So doc, how is the baby doing?” *doctor* “Well, the heart beats are doing great!” *me* “What do you mean, ‘heartbeats’?” *doctor* “You are having triplets. Congratulations!” *horrified* But it is coming along. I am founding their seed-ideas and I think I will do fine. Any divine figure above, willing, that is. Thanks for the post!

  22. #36 by michellekeyes on January 16, 2012 - 11:39 pm

    Kristen – I absolutely love the concept and am so glad I found WWBC! It’s EXACTLY what I’ve been searching for. What’s really funny is when I told my fiance about Saturday’s meeting his first comment was, “So, you’re telling me, you’re excited because they’re telling you what you already knew?” ROFL – “No honey, I’m excited because they understand exactly what I’m dealing with while 99.9% of the rest of the writing population doesn’t have a clue.” What a relief it is to find you guys!

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