Tips on Editing: Part 1

WRITER’S ON THE MOVE

Tips on Editing: Part 1
What is Editing?
By Nancy Carty Lepri

How many of us have delved into a good book only to find typos and/or glaring mistakes? I know it has happened to me on several occasions and with well-known authors. It makes me wonder who, if anyone, has edited or proofread this book before it goes to publication.

Seeing I am certified as an editor, I thought I would pass on some of my lessons to you with a round of articles about how to be more effective at editing manuscripts.

What is an editor’s job? First, you have to clean up any “messes.” And, remember the work belongs to the author, so if you are editing another’s work, do not try to rewrite it to your taste. 

The Publication Process:
1.       The author finishes the final draft and a publisher accepts it, it first goes to the editor.
2.       The editor reads the text two or more times, correcting errors on content, grammar, punctuation, and typos, while working closely with the author.
3.       The next step goes to the book designer, where the artistic element is coordinated to enhance the text and to design the cover. Then proofs are printed.
4.       Book designers usually make proofs from the computer then send them to the author and the editor to double check for mistakes.
5.       When the proofs are approved, they go to the printer to become the final product.
6.       The final product results in the book.
7.        
The publisher is involved throughout this whole process and gives the final okay to the editor, book designer, and printer before the book is released.
  
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF EDITORS:
1.        Acquisitions Editor: this is the person who look for authors—basically they are agents or publishers looking for marketable books.
2.       Developmental Editor: this editor works hand in hand with authors to help with rewrites, research, character development, plots and strengthen weaknesses.
3.       Production Editor:  this editor has strong analytical and organizational skills needed to get a book published. He or she manages the manuscript from editing through printing. Some production editors may be book designers or act as liaison to the printer.
4.       Book Designer: these folks are knowledgeable in computer programs to format and design books.
5.       Managing Editor: this editor manages the entire publishing process from accepted manuscript to finished product.
6.       Proofreader: though this “job” is practically extinct due to computers, proofreaders compare galleys to the edited manuscript, looking for things that do not reflect the editor’s marks as well as any typos and misspellings.
7.       Other editors: these include photo editors, subsidiary rights editors, fact checkers and permissions editors; basically jobs that are “in house” at a publishing company.


Light Editor responsibilities:
1.       Spelling
2.       Grammar
3.       Capitalization
4.       Punctuation
5.       Numbered lists
6.       Table of Contents
7.       Table and Figure numbers

Medium Editing responsibilities: correctness and consistency of…
1.       Numbers
2.       Abbreviations
3.       Gender Neutrality
4.       Content and Style
a.       Audience: does the text speak to its intended audience?
b.      Logic and clarity: are the ideas presented logically and clearly?
c.       Usage: are the right words used to convey the intended meaning?
d.      Format: are titles, headers, sub headers, lists, tables and figures set up consistently?

Heavy Editing responsibilities: the need to look for and eliminate the following transgressions:
1.       Redundancies
2.       Wordiness, triteness
3.       Vague generalizations
4.       Weak sentence style
5.       Organizational weakness
6.       Lack of focus

FIVE LAWS TO EDITING:
1.       Look it up: make sure facts, spelling, etc. are correct.
2.       Be consistent:  this is especially true for numbers and abbreviations.
3.       Just because you see something in the “New York Times” doesn’t mean it’s right: even the “New York Times” can make mistakes, so make sure your work is accurate.
4.       Editing is subjective: the need to be aware of current word usage as well as evolving usage and be flexible enough to adapt to the changes. This means the rules of punctuation, grammar, style and usage are not completely rigid and writers and editors have latitude in deciding how to proceed.
5.       Perfection is the enemy of done:  every editor longs for a perfect edit, but that is next to impossible. You will always find something you should fix, tweak, or finesse. If you keep looking for perfection, you will never finish your edit.


These rules are all the basics of an editor’s job, whether you are a professional editor or just going over your own manuscript. My next “installment” will introduce the tools editors use to do their job.

Nancy's March Posting

Hi friends....

I'm starting a series about editing for Writer's On the Move blog and my first installment will be released today, Wednesday, March 29. Hope you get a chance to hop by and leave a comment. Thanks in advance.

Nancy

TIPS TO ENHANCE YOUR WRITING LIFE

The life of a writer is often filled with deadlines and multiple, competing responsibilities. When I think of maintaining both a sense of inner peace and personal ambition the following quote by Lao Tzu comes to mind "By doing nothing one could accomplish everything.'"

As a busy mom, writer and psychotherapist, I rarely have time to "do nothing." As I type this entry after midnight, I have two loads of laundry in progress, a feverish child in my bed, and a desk piled high with work. A part of me thrives on burning the candle at both ends and having multiple projects in the works. However, a larger part of me, simply just wants to be relaxed and enjoy exactly where I am in this moment. For me, inner peace is simply about being in the present and knowing that everything will be okay, regardless of how crazy it seems now.

Meditation is a great way to infuse your day with inner peace. I try to set aside ten minutes each morning to simply sit and breathe. During meditation, I slowly breathe in and out through my nostrils and gently let go of any thoughts or worries. I allow everything to be as it is.

Having thoughts occur during meditation is as natural as breathing. I welcome the thoughts and then quietly let them go as I surrender to silence. At first, I found meditation challenging. I ,too, am ambitious. It was hard for me to sit still and I was eager to get started with the next item on my list. However, after a lot of practice meditation is now my favorite part of the day.

Paradoxically, I find that after this ten minutes of "doing nothing" but meditating, I am most productive. Some of my best ideas and freshest writing come to me after meditation. In a sense, meditation fuels my ambition yet also sustains my sense of inner peace.

In addition to meditation, my crockpot and my blender are two critical components to my writing work. These two inventions are wonderful tools to keep my family fed and fuel my brain for optimal concentration. Here are three of my favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Cookie Smoothie
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 cup of soy milk or skim milk
1 tablespoon organic honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup nonfat yogurt
1 small ripe banana
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash allspicehandful of ice cubes

1. Place all above ingredients in blender. Process on high speed until very smooth. Serve immediately.

Vegetarian Creole- Style “Sausage” with Rice and Beans
Serves 8
1 package Boca meatless vegan sausage (found in frozen aisle of grocery store)
2 fresh organic tomatoes, diced
1 Vidalia onion, diced fine
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
4 cups organic vegetable stock
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning (or adjust to suit your taste)
1.5 cups uncooked brown long grain rice
2 (15 ounce cans) of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1. Prepare veggie sausage according to package directions. Slice veggie sausage into bite sized pieces and place in bottom of 4 quart slow cooker.
2. Add tomatoes, Vidalia onion, green pepper and red pepper to slow cooker. Slowly add vegetable stock, brown rice, and Creole seasonings and red beans. Gently stir to combine.

3. Cover and cook on low setting for 5 to 6 hours. Serve and enjoy!


Serenity Smoothie

1 cup skim milk
1 cup nonfat yogurt
1 large banana, frozen
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
4 large strawberries, hulled
1/4 small cantaloupe, diced
2 tablespoons organic honey
1 tablespoon flax seed oil

1. In blender, combine milk, yogurt, banana, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, flax seed oil and honey.

2. Puree on high speed until thoroughly blended. Serve immediately.

Aileen McCabe-Maucher is the author of the book "The Inner Peace Diet" which was published by Penguin/ Alpha Books and released nationwide on December 2, 2008. She is a licensed clinical social worker/psychotherapist who has helped many people find inner peace and discover their unique life purpose. For more information please visit the site below.
http://innerpeacediet.blogspot.com/

In the Beginning

The beginning of your story, whether it is a short story or a novel, is the most important part of your book. It is where you hook your reader, and hooking your reader is a definite must. Many a book has been laid down only to never be picked up again because the reader found the first page or two to be boring.

You can have the best character ever created, but you need to get that character into some type of action that will grab and hold onto the reader's attention. He/she needs to be hungry for more and more of your story. So you need to choose an opening action that can be built upon. According to Chris Roerden in Don't Murder Your Mystery, "Caring about the main character is the ultimate hook." This is so true because you can build upon this in so many ways.

The reader needs to identify with the character's feelings, and there must be contradictions of some type. It is good to introduce the main character as quickly as you can into the story. The reader should wonder about who, what, when, where, how, and why. Curiosity will keep them reading. As the author, it is your duty to keep their curiosity going throughout the whole book until the end where you will satisfy and answer all their questions about the story and the main character.

Even though it may be necessary to include backstory and description, these can be added later in the story and must be kept to only what is needed to satisfy your reader's curiosity. Backstory can be worked into the action, adding more interest and adding fuel to the reader's interest. Adverbs and adjectives must be minimized also.

So what is the best hook? One that can be built upon? The main character, of course, and the problems with which he/she will be faced. Remember, the job of a hook is to stretch the reader's interest beyond the first sentence; and if the author does it right, the reader's interest will go well beyond the first chapter.

Which of the following would grab your interest?

It was a dark and stormy night.

Or?

Maggie's hands gripped the gun as she looked down the barrel at the fear in the eyes of the man who raped her.

Faye M. Tollison
Author of To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books: The Bible Murders and Sarah's Secret
www.fayemtollison.com
www.fmtoll.wordpress.com
www.fayetollison.blogspot.com
Member of: Sisters In Crime
                   Writers on the Move

Reading is for Life

Robinson Crusoe and friends
Many studies document the importance of social eating to help combat malnutrition in the elderly, especially those who live alone with few opportunities to take their meals in company.


A recent survey on these lines started me wondering about the importance of social reading in aiding our enjoyment of the books. From simple observation over time, I have noticed some readers tend to desert fiction for factual accounts--biographies, autobiographies, memoirs--as they grow older.


"No time to read rubbish," my mother used to say. "I want to know about real people."


Others prefer to linger in fiction that recalls a past era they remember with nostalgia--historical novels, family sagas, sweet romances of their youth.


But what everyone I know has in common is the enjoyment of discussing what they like and dislike with friends. We may love or hate Dan Brown or Jeffrey Archer or even Harry Potter (surely not! lol) but authors and their characters are as real to us as our neighbors  And the importance of gossip in life is indisputable.


E-Books and Housebound Readers
With the advent of computers and e-books, more and more elderly readers are able to access books in their homes. But will readers stop finding enjoyment in books just as they stop being interested in eating without the social interaction afforded by book clubs, libraries and sharing with friends?


Our library now has a set of machines to use for checking books in and out. Yes, it's quicker, more convenient, more like the supermarket where the checkout has to process so many items per minute and there's rarely time to talk.


But for  elderly readers whose library is as vital as their foodstore, it's another chance lost to discuss reading with a librarian or interested browser. 


We don't swap e-books like we used to swap books--yes, I know we shouldn't, but we do. There's no-one to visit the housebound pensioner to exchange books and discuss their opinions.


E-Book Surfeit
Man being read to
A bewildering amount of choice faces the e-book reader. With the rise of the printing press, no-one could ever have dreamed that there would be too many books available to read in a lifetime.


People then read to each other, spoke about what they read, waited eagerly to access what they wanted to read.


With the instant gratification of 24-hour e-book supply, will books be like sweeties? Will people find themselves sick of reading? Will we suffer from reading malnutrition from over-or under-indulgence?


More importantly, how do we, as readers, form our discussion groups to allow ourselves the joy of social reading when no-one we know is interested in reading the same book?



 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and   her New Year's Resolution is to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2011.
Illustrations from the gallery at www.oldbookart.com

Life is a bowl of....

Recently, I re-read one of my post and discovered the phrase “best laid plans”.   I would have preferred a different phrase.  Do clichés ever find their way into your writing.  How about…..
  • Fit as a fiddle
  • Tip of the iceberg
  •  A monkey’s uncle
  • The grass is always greener 

If any of these phrases have ever “wormed their way into” your writing, than consider trying CLicheCLeaner.

ClichéCleaner is an inexpensive program that highlights passages in your text that are either clichés, overly-used common expressions, or phrases of your own that you have repeatedly used within the same document. ClichéCleaner includes a list of nearly 7000 unique clichés and common expressions that are compared against your text. 

ClichéCleaner does not remove your clichés or over-used phrases or alter your document, so it you’re “dead set” on keeping a cliché  remember “to each his own”.  If your writing needs to be "tightened up", consider trying ClichéCleaner.  It's inexpensive and the site offers a free trial of the program.  Is there a cliché that you enjoy using in your writing?

_____

Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life strategist.  
For more information check out  www.donorth.biz
or folllow her at:
http://theadvantagepoint.wordpress.com
http://www.helpingchidrencope.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/do_north
http://facebook.com/DoNorth.biz  

How to Find Writing Workshops, Seminars and Conferences in Smaller Markets

Attending a writing workshop is a great way to improve your skills and learn more about the business. Where does one find a writing event?

Some writing events can be found listed on such websites as the Guide to Writers Conferences & Workshops, http://writing.shawguides.com/ and Writing Conferences, Workshops, Retreats, Centers, Residencies, Book & Literary Festivals, http://www.newpages.com/writing-conferences/. Many of these events are held in or near large cities and can be expensive.

If you can’t afford to attend a large or costly event in a location that is a distance away, do not despair. There just might be a quality event that is easier to manage. Google your town/city/area and “writing workshops,” for example. This is how I learned about the seminars I recently attended.

An Author Book Fair & Writers Seminar was held in my area. It was a day-long event consisting of four seminars and book sales, sponsored by the local newspaper. Topics discussed were: writing about local history, character development, writing your memoir, and publishing. Many authors, representing a variety of genres, sold their books to the general public. The cost to attend the seminars, including lunch, was about $50.

A writing event may also be held at and/or sponsored by a college, university, writing group, or library. Earlier this year, I read about an event in my local newspaper. A college in the area held a literary festival with speakers, book signings, workshops, readings, two receptions, a luncheon, and panel discussion, all for only $50. Contact your local institutions of higher learning and inquire about creative writing workshops, seminars, and conferences. The English, communications, or journalism departments are possible organizers of this type of event.

You might also want to try to organize writing workshops in your own community. Contact newspapers, writing groups, community colleges, universities, and libraries. National organizations such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Romance Writers of America might have local networks in your area. Perhaps independent writing groups that meet in your town or city would be interested in helping to plan a writing event.

The following websites list writing groups. I have no affiliation with these sites or groups other than SCBWI.

eBook Crossroads Directory of Writers Associations

http://www.ebookcrossroads.com/writers-associations.html

Book Marketing and Book Promotion Writers Groups and Authors Associations

http://www.bookmarket.com/writers.htm

There are many opportunities out there for learning and networking. Taking the time to research these opportunities might pay off as you pursue your writing career.

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is currently working on her first children’s book.

A Writers' Journal


Every year, when I was a child, my mother gave me a diary for Christmas. Perhaps she thought if I spent some time writing about my daily life, I would experience some sort of epiphany and change into a better person.

I always loved my new diary. I would stroke its cover and lift it to my nose. Mmm. I'd close my eyes and think of all the wonderful, exciting things I would do during the coming year, and how I would record them in my diary. And of course the knowledge that no one else would read it made it even more promising.

Every year, my diary started out with, "It's Christmas! Today I got . . . " and a list of all my Christmas presents. Sometimes I made it to New Year's day, or even a few days beyond. Usually my diary ended on about the 27th of December.

I think one of the reasons for my repeated failure in the World of The Diary, was the thought that diaries had to be a record, a very full record, of my entire day. And of course, that was impossible. I spent far too much time climbing trees, rushing to finish my homework (that was in the days when I still did homework) so that I could go and play, avoiding my parents wrath over the latest misdemeanor, and going for long walks with my dog in the monkey-infested bush near our home.

Childhood was great, full of adventures, mainly of the made-up kind. There wasn't time to write in a diary. That felt too much like homework.

I grew up and stopped getting diaries. I knew I wouldn't write in them. There wasn't enough time in the day.Then I got cancer. I had so many things I needed to remember, I got myself another diary. Only this was bigger, and had the times listed down the side.

In an attempt to get away from the picture of long hours of filling in my day's events, which I knew I wouldn't do, I decided to call it my journal.  I started jotting down thoughts, events, and how I felt, next to the appropriate time. It was incredibly self-centred. Folk that have been through aggressive treatment for cancer know how your entire life concentrates on survival. And that's what my journal was. A survival manual.

There are countless different ways of journaling, but if you're a writer you do need to keep records somehow. Here are a few simple thoughts.

  • Get yourself a large page-a-day diary with slots for each hour.
  • Don't even try to write your life's story—unless you have visions of publishing a trilogy on your life. And beware! Bribing family members to read it could be a costly business. 
  • Keep it short and to the point. Jot down an event you want to remember, preferably soon after it's happened. How did it make you feel? Any particular memory? The smell?
  • Miss out days if nothing happens. Trust me, the world WILL continue to turn.
  • I find the blank pages really useful when I need to suddenly brainstorm an article that won't fit in my day's page. I just scrawl down "See Jan 12" and flip to that blank page and fill it up with my thoughts.
  • As a writer, if you think of something inspiring that you want to write more about, draw a block around it so that you won't lose track of it. 
  • Don't try to write well. Just get it down. You'll be surprised how often you can use those memories which you would have forgotten if it wasn't for your dia . . .        journal.
I didn't know it at the time, but my "survival manual" became my main resource when I started to write about my experiences during cancer. Out of that journal has come more devotional messages than I can say, several articles, and a book about to be published. 

How about you? Have you used a journal to help you write? Do you keep a journal or daily diary?

SHIRLEY CORDER lives in South Africa with her husband Rob, a hyperactive budgie called Sparky, and an ever expanding family of tropical fish. Hundreds of her inspirational and life-enrichment articles have been published internationally. She is contributing author to nine books to date and her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer is due to be released in America by Revell Publishers in October.  You can contact Shirley through her writing website, her Rise and Soar site for encouraging those on the cancer journey, or follow her on Twitter

How to Find Writing Workshops, Seminars and Conferences in Smaller Markets

Attending a writing workshop is a great way to improve your skills and learn more about the business. Where does one find a writing event?


Some writing events can be found listed on such websites as the Guide to Writers Conferences & Workshops, http://writing.shawguides.com/ and Writing Conferences, Workshops, Retreats, Centers, Residencies, Book & Literary Festivals, http://www.newpages.com/writing-conferences/. Many of these events are held in or near large cities and can be expensive.


If you can’t afford to attend a large or costly event in a location that is a distance away, do not despair. There just might be a quality event that is easier to manage. Google your town/city/area and “writing workshops,” for example. This is how I learned about the seminars I recently attended.


An Author Book Fair & Writers Seminar was held in my area. It was a day-long event consisting of four seminars and book sales, sponsored by the local newspaper. Topics discussed were: writing about local history, character development, writing your memoir, and publishing. Many authors, representing a variety of genres, sold their books to the general public. The cost to attend the seminars, including lunch, was about $50.


A writing event may also be held at and/or sponsored by a college, university, writing group, or library. Earlier this year, I read about an event in my local newspaper. A college in the area held a literary festival with speakers, book signings, workshops, readings, two receptions, a luncheon, and panel discussion, all for only $50. Contact your local institutions of higher learning and inquire about creative writing workshops, seminars, and conferences. The English, communications, or journalism departments are possible organizers of this type of event.


You might also want to try to organize writing workshops in your own community. Contact newspapers, writing groups, community colleges, universities , and libraries. National organizations such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Romance Writers of America might have local networks in your area. Perhaps independent writing groups that meet in your town or city would be interested in helping to plan a writing event.


The following websites list writing groups. I have no affiliation with these sites or groups other than SCBWI.

eBook Crossroads Directory of Writers Associations

http://www.ebookcrossroads.com/writers-associations.html

Book Marketing and Book Promotion Writers Groups and Authors Associations

http://www.bookmarket.com/writers.htm


There are many opportunities out there for learning and networking. Taking the time to research these opportunities might pay off as you pursue your writing career.


Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is currently working on her first children’s book.

How to Overcome Writer’s Block

First, let me say that I don’t believe in writer’s block. It’s my belief that block for a writer comes from a lack of preparation and a clear concept of their project.

Writers need to prepare before they begin writing to avoid writer’s block at some point in their project.

If writer’s block does occur, walk away and do something like more research, have a conversation with your characters, read a book, or even take a work to clear the cobwebs from your brain.

I have written step-by-step procedural technical writing, How-Tos, short stories, Web content, created and facilitated writing courses at an online site for writers, also created a writer’s workshop, created an online critique group, and more. I also have two blogs about writing, and blog for children and about animals on another of my four blogs, and post book reviews on a blog.

As writers, we write about what it is we feel passion about. If a writer doesn’t have passion for their project, why are they writing it? Writers need to have a clear idea of what and why they want to write a particular project.

I believe that a quote by Mark Twain, which says, "The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say." is something that writers need to consider. I use this quote as part of my e-mail signature. It speaks volumes to me.

If writers wait for the muse to visit them, they will be waiting a long time.

Whether novice or seasoned writer, have your research completed, get the words down, than edit it or have someone you trust edit it.

The bottom line is proper research and concept before you begin writing to avoid writer’s block.

The Writing Dream, What it Takes to Get There?



The writing dream vacation?
Freelance writing can be an exciting career choice but it can also take years and hard work to evolve.

Have you ever taken on a freelance writing assignment that you felt qualified to write but you took it more for the money than the desire to write it? A writing gig that you thought you should take because of the opportunity while building your career and then whammy, the revisions and the time it took to do the assignment hardly seems worth the disruption to your writing time.



This explains my writing life the last few weeks. It is a great company, a very complicated assignment in the field of nursing, (what I know) and it has the tightest deadlines I have ever had to work with. The pay will be fabulous just as soon as the revisions are completed and the company accepts the copy but that could take weeks.





This is what I have learned from this experience as I struggle to get the revisions and the rest of the work done on time while still working full time as a nurse and trying to remain in the present as a wife, mom, grand- mom, and daughter.



  • Never take an assignment based on the payment alone. This payment will make my hourly wage still rank at over my nursing wage per hour BUT the time it is taking away from my husband, family, laundry, and life may not be worth it. Time will tell on this one.
  • The more I need to accomplish on this assignment, the needier the people around me seem to be. It might be my imagination, but just saying.
  • I have discovered that I cannot do it all. I cannot keep the house clean, the laundry caught up, the groceries bought, and the meals made as well as a BIG assignment, work full time, and do my own writing. Something gives and the dust bunnies under my table will tell you which thing gave first.
  • Quality work matters and the writing quality cannot suffer because I have errands to run or a blog to post. My time management skills have been put to the test on this one and I discovered areas where I need to get more organized.
  • Social networking is necessary but it also is a big distraction when I have a deadline. Procrastination is my middle name and I have to work at not wasting writing time on the social media sites during this project. I have been limiting my time to 30 minutes a day.
  • Setting goals is important with every project, with every task, with work and with home duties. I have been making a list of what needs to get done each day to make it less overwhelming to try and remember.
  • And more than ever, I need to write what I love and what is in my heart. I hope someday that will evolve into the kind of writing career that not only pays the bills but blesses the reader. 

So I am sharing this experience as not only a warning to others to choose the next assignment wisely,  but to look for an acceptance that this is what the writing life encompasses from other successful writers. Do we always settle for writing what we need to or is this part of the struggle to get to where we want to be. Share you thoughts and join the discussion. And think nothing of it if I don’t respond right away. I have a deadline to keep or dust bunnies to sweep.

Terri Forehand is the Author of The Cancer Prayer Book, and a PB to be released in 2012.  She writes articles on health, finance, and fiction and nonfiction for children. Visit her website at http://www.terriforehand.webnode.com/ or her blog at http://terri-forehand.blogspot.com/

Lessons Learned


In my early days as a writer I lived in a small community and found myself somewhat isolated. Each year I attended writer's conferences, but felt more support was needed. When we moved to Phoenix I joyfully found a critique group attached to my local library. For more than fifteen years I have continued to meet with this group  twice a month and they've been a help. I also attended several meetings of other groups in my area, looking for a "write" fit. All of it has been a learning experience on what works for me and what doesn't. Here's what I've learned. 

1. As a novelist, a group for me must allow submission of longer chapters. In written form. Several of the groups I tried out had members read aloud portions of their manuscript for immediate comment. These type of groups seemed to work better for poets and flash fiction authors. Because, for me, grammar was a weakness, the submission of written work allowed me to see where I needed to work and also helped to improve my writing.

2. I learned to have a thick skin. Our babies, as novelists, typically take us nine months to write and we become very attached to those babies. Giving them over to someone else to critique is difficult. But necessary. While it was sometimes challenging to hear comments of an unfavorable nature, I have come to realize my story telling improved greatly from the comments given.

3. Before submitting to a group it is important to have a finished product. This has allowed me to maintain my voice while benefiting from the group insights. Before I learned this valuable lesson I became lost trying to please too many with my story and eventually pleased no one - that particular partial novel still sits in a drawer. 

4. I once read an article about "puff" groups. Those that just tell you everything is great. That you are amazing. Watch out for them. You may be amazing, or they may not have the courage to tell you what you need to work on, and generally, there is always something that can be improved, right?
______________________________

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction. She loves to tell stories of personal growth where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is the author of Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com

Her novels are available in electronic format here, or print format here
You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook
Or you can just contact her at d.jeanquarles@yahoo.com