Assessing Your Writing
Quality assessment is now one of the most important strategies in education. Good assessment techniques are in play from the start of every course or project undertaken by students. And the intention behind this is to promote learning rather than to demoralise by testing before a student is ready.
To explore what benefits this could bring to writers, consider the methods of assessment commonly in use and see how some might help improve technique and time management.
Decide on the Criteria.
photo by Jeffrey James Pacres on Flickr released under Creative Commons License
This may be self assessment but we need standards to aim for, standards to attain.
Goal setting for writers usually focuses on words per day. If the focus is moved to the standards you want your book to reach, you can create SMART targets (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound) to ensure improvement scene by scene, chapter by chapter, book by book.
The SMART target could be to cut down subject-verb sentences by two per chapter.
Try varying sentence structure till it becomes automatic not to start too many sentences with he did, she did subject-verb sentences.
I'm a participle starter...love my -ings lol. Realising this is one of my many defects, I try not to do it too often. Let's hope that's the last example in this blog.
Yes, writing tricks and habits may be part of your author's voice, but repeated too often they bore the reader through familiarity.
How many authors did you once love but now don't follow? Ask yourself why.
Question and Answer
Fiction writers use question Q&A from the start when creating their characters' biographies, when asking "what if....?" to move their plot points forward.
In the main, the questions are closed--asking and expecting straightforward answers...Where was the hero born? What is the inciting incident?
But if you read through the day's work and ask more open-ended questions, then stronger solutions may appear.
What is the underlying theme of the scene? And make no mistake, each scene should be locking on to one of the themes of your book.
What other possible outcomes could there be? Take time. Ensure you have the best possible outcome.
How is this scene similar to the ones before? Vary the scenario,vary the emotional tempo, the pacing if you like. Vary the outcome to give an unexpected player the upper hand.
With so many e-books now outsourced to ghostwriters, your book will have the advantage of authenticity. If you've adhered to your self-imposed targets, it will be valid in assessment terms. But is it sufficient?
In education-speak, this means it covers all the assessment criteria. In reader-speak, this means it tells the story, the whole story and nothing but the story.
In today's fast-read world, there is no advantage to padding out books unnecessarily. Prune viciously. Harlequin and many other romance publishers look for novels around 55,000 words. They're still in business. They know what sells.
Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and her New Year's Resolution was to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2011. Could do better--much better. :-(