Saturday, August 02, 2008

To the LIghthouse


Yesterday we decamped to the north coast and spent a glorious windblown few hours huddled by some rocks. The kids did a bit of boarding and general messing about on the beach. It was a day to clear cobwebs and anything else lingering in my head.


This morning I woke early and finally sat down to do a critique of another writers work. When I first attempted to do this last year, I was too scared to be as hard on her as I was on myself and also didn't think I had any skill for it (she has assured me otherwise). I was also feeling guilty that I would be totally hopeless at helping with grammar and spelling.......However when I finally took the plunge I had no idea how much it would give me back. By being a tougher reader for her I learned how to be tougher on myself. So I am now hopefully setting myself up for a brutal read through of A Cornish House. I must be ruthless. I have found myself going through first pages of books in shops again trying to find what makes them work for me and what doesn't. I am also seeing things which I think could have been cut. Let's just hope I can hold onto this vision for Monday morning!


Have you done a critique for another writer? Was it helpful to you? Was it horrible? Did you gain anything from the experience?


p.s. the photos is of the Godrevy Lighthouse which V. Woolf used for her book To the Lighthouse which somewhere in the back of my mind i know I have read but can not for the life of me remember it.

13 comments:

JJ said...

I haven't Liz but Julia (Bell) told me it was one of the best exercises for improving your own writing!

liz fenwick said...

You should give it a try - I was pertrified but I have learned so much :-)

Debs said...

I haven't either, you're very brave.

Steve Malley said...

To the Lighthouse: You can't remember it because NOTHING happens. A family on a picnic decide to go up the beach to the lighthouse. It takes like ten years for them to get there, and a few of 'em are dead by then.

Lisa said...

I've done and received critiques and almost every time, it's been a great experience. I have been asked to read and critique on manuscripts a couple of times "blind", meaning I really didn't have a feel for the writer's genre or skill set first and that was tough. It seems to be most beneficial to exchange work with someone who is writing something I like (and who likes what I'm writing), but who is willing to roll up her sleeves and really pick my ms apart and point out as many false notes as she can find. Conversely, I'm more than willing to do this for someone who trusts me and who really wants it. On the whole, it's been very beneficial.

liz fenwick said...

Go on and take the plunge Debs!

Thanks for reminding me why I forgot it, Steve :-)

Lisa,I do think you have to work up a trust with the person definitely but sometimes it's quite benificial to be reading another genre because you bring a fresh perspective and help the writer to see another view which challenges it although you can stumble badly when there are known shortcut that writers and their readers know :-)

Flowerpot said...

That's my mum's favourite beach as a child. We still go there a lot - lovely picture Liz and good luck with the editing. I agree, we learn a lot from critiquing other people's work.

ChrisH said...

Well done for finishing the rewrite, Liz. I've got to pick myself up (again!) so will take inspiration from your example.

Pat Posner said...

Hi
I've not been blogging long and keep seeing your name on blogs I visit so came to look at your blog.
I love the title of your book.

I love your photo as well - if you pop over and visit my blog some time you'll see why.

I've got 3 crit partners, we met on line, sort of one by one, and gradually starting swapping mss. At the time (5 years ago, eeek) we were all targetting M&B or Harlequin. Now we've all gone on to different genres. My CPs are great and I wouldn't like to be without them.

cs harris said...

I used to exchange manuscripts with fellow writers in Australia, back in my pre-pub and early-pub days. I learned sooo much from looking at what wasn't working in their stories, and why--mainly lack of conflict or characters who were all over the place or contrived emotions/reactions that were unrealistic and solely there to push the story where the writer wanted it to go.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I have, several times, and I've always learned a lot from it.

Jane Henry said...

Critiquing to me always feels like a busman's holiday so I don't tend to do it too much. Also I have a very bad habit of saying oh yes of course I'll look at your book and then finding I really don't have time.

Now I love To the Lighthouse. The mother in it is I'm pretty sure based on VW's own mother Julia Stephen, and I think it is a beautiful lyrical book about family and loss and the passing of time. My husband hates VW though because he says she just does description and no story. Very true probably, but I still love her!

KAREN said...

I'm not very good at 'critiquing' but having read your post, maybe I should try being a bit tougher in future!