Two of the people who haven’t been digging the epic fantasy were absent. A third said the last submission went a lot towards converting them to the story. Everyone else likes it. The writing itself, they couldn’t find many technical errors. I’ve got an inconsistent character – inconsistent in the way she’s reacting, or not reacting, and the way other characters are treating her – sometimes as a child, sometimes as a young woman. Again – inconsistent in the eyes of the reader. I’ve got a fight scene that was good, but could be better. There was lots of character building in the submission, though – which is good.
Not having everyone loving it feeds into the fragile writer’s ego. With this group about halfway into the novel, I definitely know there are things that need to change within the story. I keep coming back to the idea that I’m trying to do too much. Which leads me into another part of the weekend.
I sat down and took stock of everything I’m writing, and the way I’m writing it. As part of that process, I put together a list of questions to ask myself about every story. This sort of works as an addendum to my critique template – except that it’s not about critiquing the stories after they’re written, it’s about getting them written in the first place.
I’m currently working on several short stories and one novel. The list:
- The Damsel (2nd draft – fantasy – submitted to writer’s group for critique in November)
- The Legend of Aoudjila (2nd draft – mythology – submitted to writer’s group for critique in November)
- Murder Redemption (3rd draft – horror-ish)
- Cord Cahill 2 (1st draft – science fiction)
- Eldquist (2st draft – fantasy)
- Descent (3rd draft – science fiction)
- The Paladin (1st draft – fantasy)
- Seven (3rd draft – sword and sorcery)
- Untitled Space Opera (novel 1st-ish draft)
The idea behind the questions is to combat the thing that typically happens to pantsers – you start a lot of stories, but you don’t finish them. Among the questions:
- Who is/are the main character(s)?
- Who is/are the main antagonist(s)?
- Where is the story set?
- When is the story set?
- What is the main theme of the story?
- What motivates the main character?
- What message, if any, do you want the reader to take away from this story?
- How does the story begin?
- How does the story end?
Let’s be frank – this is outlining stuff, and I get that. But sometimes I have to come at it by taking the long way around, which is what happened here. I think. Probably.
So, when I say that I took stock of what I’m writing, what I mean is this – I took these questions and applied them to the stories I mentioned above. If I couldn’t answer them, I’m not working on those stories until I can.