When Someone Critiques My First Chapter …

My latest WIP is a novel with the working title “Of Gods and Men”.  I am a member of an on-line writers’ critique group, have been a member off and on for a number of years and I like the site.

So, I submitted the first chapter of my new novel for critique and have, so far, received one.

New novels are a bit like your baby. You think they are the most beautiful, perfect little being in the entire universe. So, how to react when someone disagrees with you?

This is what I do:

First of all, I check the site about twenty times a day waiting for the first review.

I read the first review and my heart sinks. They don’t like my baby as much as I do.  It’s sort of like someone saying, “Oh, sort of cute baby, I can see some potential, but you know the clothes it’s wearing don’t work for me. It’s personality seems a bit over-the top, I’m not sure if I actually like it. Still needs a lot of work to become the type of baby I’d love to have.” Then they nit-pick a bit, which is actually usually fine.  I don’t mind the nit-picking.

I take it all on the chin, respond with a positive answer back, gushing, “Oh thank you for that, it’s really helpful.”  Then I look at my baby and think, why don’t they see you the same way I do.

This is when the bad stuff happens.  I decide that maybe my baby is just not worth working on at all, so I don’t write any more. I check back, often, to see if anyone else has had a chance to comment on my baby. They haven’t. Maybe, I think, because they agree that my baby is worthless. Maybe they can’t be bothered. Maybe my baby/story is just too much for them to even consider commenting on…  And it goes on.

So, I decide, “well, I’ll just show you some of my other babies…” and I publish something else for critique.  That ends up being a bit of a vicious cycle actually.

Finally — and this is the good part — I decide, “I actually like my baby.  You had some valid points about it’s clothing and maybe it’s personality, but hey, it’s still a baby.  Then I get back to writing.

Happens every time.  It’s a process. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but I’m not. Unlike some of the characters I write about, I am still human.

I’m off to write more now that the sulking phase is over…

It is a good site. Constructive criticism is always good, even when hard to take at first. And, I need to wait for a few more people to weigh in before I worry too much about what people think. It’s always hard though. Stages I go through.


Category: WIP

Reading: Lee Child ‘The Midnight Line’

I’m a huge fan of Lee Child, and love his Jack Reacher character.

“So far, very good.” But that’s what I have come to expect from Lee Child, great writing, interesting characters, and a fascinating story-line. This one is not disappointing.

There’s just something about the character, Jack Reacher, that resonates with me. He is a good guy/bad guy, unattached to the world, brilliant and tenacious, especially when it comes to figuring out mysteries — he gets himself involved in things he probably shouldn’t and he’s an awesome fighter.

I think I enjoy the understatement in Child’s novels. They’re often set in obscure little American towns. Reacher, his character, is not self-effacing, but he retains some humility regarding himself which makes him more likeable. So, even though  he has great powers of deduction, is not someone you would ever want to get into a fight with, he doesn’t come across as a super-hero type guy (even though I think he sort of is…yes, I’m a fan).

Reacher reminds me of a dog trained to hunt by smell. He gets a whiff of something, then just goes after it till he reaches the end, which he invariably does.

I also like the fact that while he does hook up with women (usually on a fairly temporary basis) he is equally able to befriend males — the sub-plots are not always about him and a women, just him and another person.

OK, so The Midnight Line — mind you, there’s great plot synopsis’ available online, which would probably be much better written than anything I could add… but … well, no.

This says it very well:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/08/books/review-midnight-line-jack-reacher-lee-child.html