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I Get Critiqued
Eagerly I went to the workshop meeting with the first five pages of my novel, which nobody has read and I haven't talked or written about. The readers had five minutes to read their first pages--those make-or-break pages--and then got a five-minute critique from the audience. I was eighth on the list. Nerves crept up on me. I told myself, "Fear is not real. Fear is all in the mind. Don't buckle. Don't let it win."
As the writers took their turns I saw that each criticism had validity and value. Ergo, that'd be true of the critiques of my work. And I grew nervous again, not for myself but for the transition about to take place: My story and characters have been so much fun to write, but the finished book is not mine anymore. It belongs to readers, and has a whole new face.
My first pages had "too many points of view" and "the computer error mentioned was not a computer error but a clerical error," and "I got confused as to who was talking in the dialogue between mother and daughter," and "the protagonist should have a stronger reaction." It was not clear to some respondents that the novel was set in an era before certain laws were enacted. That must be clarified.
I went home not broken but more confident, deeply grateful for the feedback, the first I've asked for and received. That evening I rewrote the first five pages. Thanks to the St. Louis Writers Guild for hosting this open "5+5" workshop: five minutes of reading and five minutes of audience critiques.
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Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.
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