The day of the writing consult finally arrived!
I was prepared:
- I had a hard copy of the submission as well as a digital copy on a flash drive.
- I had pens. (Yes, those ancient instruments!)
- I’d read the submission a couple of times and stopped when I focussed too much on things I’d change.
- I reflected on the story: the characters; the settings; the language… why I’d chosen certain words, etc.
- I had ideas how the story could be improved.
- I arrived an hour early.
I was excited! Oddly enough, I wasn’t nervous or apprehensive at all.
So, what did they say?
Writer Guy: I liked this story. Your writing is very good so my suggestions are stylistic.
Me: (happy, surprised silence).
Writer Guy is a graduate of an accredited post-secondary writing program and is a working, published writer.
Since his comments were stylistic, he pointed out that other people would have different comments and these were simply his reactions and impressions. We discussed notes he’d made on his copy and I followed along on my copy, making my own notes.
Interestingly, he mentioned a couple points I’d noticed myself. He also mentioned other points I hadn’t noticed. His favorite passage was one I wouldn’t have guessed. He identified that passage as a potential theme to run through the whole story (if I expanded the story).
When we’d gone through all his points we talked about writing process; my process vs. his process. Then we talked about my work in progress. It took me a couple of seconds to remember my WIP. (What’s the working title again? lol.) I was so focussed on my submitted story.
He also suggested I join a writers’ group. I may do just that.
What did we learn?
Insight and feedback from someone who knows more than you about what you’re doing — specialized education and professional experience, in this case — is worthwhile. Regardless of your field or project, I recommend this exercise.
A live in-depth review of my creative writing was helpful. Talking out loud about my characters and stories was valuable in itself. Writing is a very solitary activity, as some of you know.
It was also interesting receiving feedback from someone who had only read one of my stories and didn’t know anything about me.
Finally, no matter how well you prepare you can’t prepare for everything. See below.
A comedy of errors
Writer Guy asked about a passage: was this a character’s inner thoughts or the narrator’s voice? He suggested I clarify somehow and be consistent. I’d used italics to denote characters’ inner thoughts throughout. I figured this method wasn’t clear enough and I’d review later.
He gave me his printed copy of my story at the end of our session. Later, looking at his copy, I noticed that all italicized formatting had somehow been removed by some formatting goblin. No wonder the characters’ inner thoughts weren’t clear to him.
Then, I noticed that the end of the story was missing. Gone. The story cuts off mid-sentence and mid-page! The last six and a half sentences were vaporized! Quelle horreur!
No wonder he asked if this piece was part of a larger story! (This calamity is just too terrible…must block from my thoughts.)
A special thank you to all you wonderful people who read, like, comment and follow my posts and stories. Without you I’m not sure when I’d have taken this step with my writing.
You’re awesome. 🙂
P.S. Here is Writing Consult Update I