Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Little Help from a Friend

Margie talked yesterday about getting motivated, and I'd like to share something that happened this week that's really motivated me.

Lindi happened! :) Or more specifically, her critique happened. We've been critique partners and part of a critique group for years. As I look back, I realize our critique group started 7 years ago! Or actually, they asked me to join them 7 years ago right after I moved to this side of Atlanta.

This past Tuesday, Lindi and I met after our local ACFW meeting. She had read about 175 pages of my new manuscript, and we went over her suggestions. What was so cool was that she was able to pinpoint things that I had been feeling were "off" but couldn't figure out why I felt that way.

One great example: my main character has been driven to succeed since her mother died when she was young. Her mother left a letter for her to read on her 16th birthday, and the letter has been another thing that has driven her.

During the story, she's about to pursue her Masters degree, but as I've been revising, I kept feeling that wasn't right. My character would have done that soon after college if not immediately after. And the story occurs about 10 years later.

So Lindi and I are sitting in Applebee's talking about the story, and Lindi says, "I think your character needs to have had a man in her past who held her back from her goals." And bam!, I realize that's exactly what I need to have that would have kept her from her Master's degree! Now when she's about to apply to grad school, and my hero comes on the scene, she'll have even more conflict!

It's funny how we can be so blind to what should happen in our own books, especially when we're still so close to it. So I'm thankful for Lindi and her objectivity. (And also her ability to find cliches and typos and inconsistencies!)

Any of you who are writers, I suggest you find a critique partner. Or at least find someone you trust who would be willing to do a cold read on your completed manuscripts. They'll possibly work wonders!



  1. Way to go, Missy. And Lindi. I'm so thankful for my critique partners. It's always nice to have a fresh pair of eyes and someone who can relate. You're right, we get so close to our stories that we can't see the forest for the trees.

  2. I love your word use of "Bam!" It's perfect for the epiphany you experienced.

    I had that on the plane home. It happened with the combination of already planted seeds and those seeds being watered by scalding hot tea.

    I suddenly had to use what Margie Lawson taught on rhetorical devices, first person instead of third (after completely enjoying first person in Tosca Lee's book, Demon: a Memoir, when I said I hated reading first person) and the need to get down on paper how it felt to be scalded unexpectedly by hot tea.

    I found that I was guarded in third person and completely open, pouring emotion out like a waterfall, when writing in first person.

    And I'd avoided it all this time.

    I read it to a writing colleague. Uh huh. I'd struck gold. My paradigm shifted.


  3. IM just happy that you were eating at Applebees and not Chik-fila !!!

  4. Angie, I didn't hear the tea story, but I'll have to check your blog. :)

    I'm so glad you found 1st person fits! I love writing and reading it.

    Okay, is there some inside joke about Chick-fil-a?? :) Or am I just slow?


  5. Missy!! I'm so glad our critique helped. It's good to get feedbak that is helpful and i know I can always count on Missy to do a good job with my ms, so I'm glad I could be helpful to her.

    And we talked about chik-fil-a couple of weeks ago in the comments section....I told my whole chik-fil-a story...and cousin Wendy is not real thrilled with chik-fil-a..(nothing to do with my story, she's just not thrilled) but us southern girls are we need to get her down here and give her some good southern chicken and biscuits.