Monday, May 23, 2011

Photo Ops and Toasts


Today is the official start of my "Ravens With Writing Desks" critque group, a subgroup of Guppies, which is a subgroup of the National Sisters In Crime. Five of us writers have manuscript WIPs (Works In Progress) that we will  submit, chapter by chapter, for critiques, suggestions, and comments. Given a choice, I'd select this as one of the most beneficial forms of improving my writing.

It is next to impossible to spot all of ones own errors:

*repetitive use of favorite words
*redundant phrases
*neglected subplot lines

Could you make it through a complete novel if the main character's sidekick started every sentence with, "Well, like, you know ..." or if everytime the bad guy came on scene, his actions were described in narrative and then with flowing dialogue: Lenny tripped on the sidewalk as he stealthily moved toward the house. He almost fell, but after a moment of windmilling his arms, he caught himself. "Gees," Lenny thought, as he grabbed onto the porch rail, "I almost fell when I tripped over that sidewalk."  

How often have you finished reading a book only to sit back and wonder what. ever. happened. to Miss James after she left the coffee shop with the protagonist's favorite pair of red shoes? Or why. did. that. neighbor choose to turn on his lawn sprinklers at midnight, conveniently allowing him to witness a break-in next door?

Neglected subplot lines don't always mean the death of a novel. But if a reader hones in on a colorful bit of information and spends the balance of the novel looking for its purpose, when she reaches the denouement with nothing to satisfy her curiosity, you can bet disappointment will follow. Can you afford to alienate even one reader? I'd rather take my licks with a harsh critique.

So, what is the purpose of my opening picture?
It is a chuck of Alaskan glacier resting on an ice cooler, and I thought it would make one heck of an "On The Rocks" to toast whatever deserves toasting today!

Okole Maluna (Hawaiian/Bottoms Up)
Kanpai (Japanese/Good Health)
Prost  (German) http://german.about.com/cs/vocabulary/a/toasts.htm


Teaching has ruined more American novelists than drink.
-Gore Vidal

"It takes only one drink to get me drunk.
The trouble is, I can't remember if it's the thirteenth or the fourteenth."
-George Burns



Got this scenic shot with my little digital
My Perfect Glacier 'Photo Op' at Prince William Sound

5 comments:

  1. We drove cross country (from Louisiana) to Seattle and went on an Alaskan cruise. I didn't want to come home. Alaska is so beautiful. I have a friend living in Juneau who hikes the mountains and is forever posting pictures on facebook. God's state.

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  2. I agree, Donna. While standing in the shadows of Alaska's snow-topped mountains, one is able to comprehend majesty.
    (computer not accepting my Google account at this time.)

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  3. Gail, I hope you and the other members of Ravens with Writing Desks have a successful and productive future together. Happy writing and critiquing!

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  4. Thanks for getting us rolling, Betsy. We've all managed to set up our files and start critiqing each other's works.

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  5. Stunning pictures, wow!

    And I had to laugh ~ it drives me crazy when writers leave little dangling things like that. Make me think something's important and then never bring it up again. Argh!

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