So I had the first chapter of my Nano novel critiqued last night. That's probably one of the scariest things I've ever done. Like, ever. I want to run away so bad! But Kathy made me stay and told me, well, we are here now, let's do this! (Oh crap, I used a !! Make that two.)
But it was fascinating to hear how complete and total strangers saw my character and my story. I tried not to argue with them, because I know that's a big no-no, so I nodded a lot and asked for clarification here and there, and agreed with them on many points actually. But here, on my very own post about it, I can argue all I want, right? And ask all the most obnoxious questions that I stifled yesterday, right?
And besides, I really do want to know what you all think about some of these points. So please, let me know.
** So, what exactly is wrong with the dreaded !!!!!. I guess it's kind of like the adverb of punctuation, yes? It tells, it doesn't show. But sometimes, oh man, sometimes you just really need it. Don't you?
** Speaking of telling and showing, don't do both. No telling. No telling AND showing. Just showing. Only showing, always showing. Do we all agree with this one?
** What is your definition of conflict? And do you need conflict all the time to keep you interested? And does that conflict need to be very obvious or can it be subtle?
** If a person was sitting in front of you, and they turn their head to the side but was looking down, would you see the color of their eyes? Or not quite?
** In thinking about thinking, don't you ever, when you are thinking, ask yourself questions? I didn't know that in a first person narrative, you shouldn't have the character be thinking questions. That one was new to me. I'm not sure I agree with it. What do you think?
** What's the difference between these things ... and these things -- and are there different circumstance in which you use them? And if I want the reader to read things with lots of pauses, should I not be using ... and is it bad if I use more than three dots? What if I want a long pause? ............
** Is it a love triangle if two guys like the girl, but the girl only likes one of the guys? (We didn't discuss this during the meeting last night, but I'm dying to know.)
** Perky. It's bad, right? I do not want a perky character. I guess I don't even want a happy character. Even if she starts out happy and THEN the conflict comes and she gets crazy. But I need her to start out crazy instead? Yes? Or what? I'm so confused on this one. (Here, I would like to use another !!!! so you can feel my sense of frustration, but I'm scared now.) Yeah, it didn't even cross my mind that she shouldn't be happy as the book opens. So confused. But one of the guys last night called her a sweetheart. I liked that. It made me smile.
** Passive voice. I totally agree. It's bad. My chapter is full of it and that's after I thought I got rid of it. Dang. I'm such a bad bad writer. Bad, so bad.
** Flashbacks, in the first chapter. Your feelings on this? I had a feeling they would hate this. I was right.
** If my first scene takes place at church, would you assume that it's going to be a Christian novel? Yeah, me neither.
Well, though I could go on, because yes, there's more, I'll stop for now because I've a feeling you are already overwhelmed. Because I do expect you, the expert readers, to know the answers. Please, what do you think on any or all of the above points?
And speaking of being an expert, I thought I know some things, but seriously, I truly know nothing.
Lest you think I'm complaining here, I'm not. It was fun. It was eye opening. It was hard. It was helpful. It was discouraging, just like I knew it would be. But here's hoping that soon, I won't care, and will keep trying. Know what I mean?
(P.S. I was a terrible critiquer in return, because, you guessed it, I pretty much like everything I read. I know you are so surprised!)