spring smiles

Happy Sunday to all. I’m back! What have I been up to? Well, a lot! Here’s what’s happened in the last two weeks…

It’s been pretty amazing. I feel so lucky! Here are some photos from our engagement:

Love, love, love!

So, back to my blogging update! New posts will be moved to Friday’s now. Yep, that’s right. Even if it’s only one sentence, you can look forward to a new post from me every week once again!

I hope you have a glorious week. See you Friday!

New Posts Will Be Back Soon

…and by that I mean….

All of my free time is currently going to be dedicated to writing, reading, and/or recharging. I‘ll be back to a steady blog schedule in the Spring, but for now…it’s hibernation time.

Thank you for stopping by WriterChristineMarie.com.

Feel free to tweet me @AWritersWay, where I will continue to share updates on my writing and many Disney gifs.

Until next time,

Christine

What Makes A Good Critique Partner?

If you’re a writer of any kind, at some point you’re going to reach a point in your career where you will find yourself in need of a critique or have to give one yourself.

I have been part of intense writing workshops and consistent monthly writer groups for many years. Each experience has had its positives and negatives, but one thing remains true. As writers, we need constructive criticism to grow.

Lately, I have been pondering what makes a good critique partner. What can we do as writers to lift each other up while also giving constructive feedback? I’ve come up with three key points that I try to focus on when giving critiques.

Be Honest

First and foremost, you have to be honest about the work you are reading. Sure, that might sound simple, but sometimes things get in the way of telling the truth.

For many of us, we pair up with our friends as critique partners. This can be complicated. If you happen to come across work that you don’t think is all that good, it can be hard to be honest to a friend. In my experience, I have always made sure to make it clear that I was honest feedback. As previously stated, writers need constructive feedback to grow, therefore, you’re really doing your friend a favor by being honest. If we just sat around stroking each others egos all say, we wouldn’t get very far.

In my personal experience, I will never forget the time I went to a week long workshop. I was 100% torn apart. Did it hurt? Yes. Did it make me grow? More than any other workshop or group I have been a part of.

Be Positive

With that said, don’t feel like you can’t praise each other! I have read work before that was practically perfect in every way and I proudly told them so! For every two things you say that might be a little difficult to swallow, try to throw a positive in the mix. As in most cases, balance is key.

I have been part of groups before when people go in too hard. They ignore positive feedback and find it to be useless. In reality, it’s just as important to give some positive feedback as it is to be honest. We aren’t trying to beat each other into the ground here.

Remember the workshop I mentioned earlier? They had some strict rules about balancing negative feedback with positive. It helped to balance the process. After about three days of adjusting to a real critique environment, I saw the light. Once my group noticed I was trying to improve and letting my ego go, that’s when the real magic started to happen. Which leads me to my next point…

Be Open

All in all, the previous two points don’t mean anything if you aren’t open to it all. I’m not telling you to believe every single critique you get, because there will be times you disagree. The beauty of feedback is you can take what you need. You are still in control of your writing. Try and take the time to be open and to thoughtfully digest your critiques. On the other side, be open and thoughtful when you are giving them too.

We are all in this together. Creative souls unite!

Tell me, what do you think makes a good critique partner? Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Thank you for joining me here today. You can look for a new post next Thursday.

Until next time,

Christine

have yourself a merry little writing session

Tis the season for hot chocolate, Christmas music, and writing sessions. The past two months have been quite intense as I juggled my day job and a hefty list of writing goals.

However, I am happy to report that I am right on track to finish my second draft this coming Friday! I don’t know about you, but I think the Christmas season kept the pep in my step! That, and a ton of coffee.

After that, my draft will be sent to a few trusted writing partners for critique! All in all, I’m feeling quite positive about the journey ahead. 2019 will be filled with writing pitches, query letters, and hopefully some MAGIC will happen.

I wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season! I’ll be back in the New Year with some awesome new blog posts (on a regular blog schedule because ya know…that’s one of my goals for the new year!) See you in 2019!

“how can we get you there without getting you there?”

Happy NaNoWriMo 2018 to you all!
This week’s post is meant to declare my writing goals for the next two months along with talking about a very interesting topic that came up the other day over lunch with my writer friends. Here’s how it happened:
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We gathered among mac & cheese and made vows to be the very best “accountabilibuddies” (translation: accountability buddies) we could be over the course of the next two months. (Yes, we extended our NaNoRebel goals all the way until the end of December) We reviewed what our goals would be and how we hope to achieve them.
With the looming first week deadline fast approaching, inspiration came up, and the idea of sparking the right kind of feeling to sit down and write. This expanded into the topic of travel plans. My good friend leaned over and said, “I should just go there, right? No big deal!” We all laughed together, because while it would be wonderful to hop on a plane and travel to a different country, it’s not always doable.
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So, I posed the question…”How can we get you there without getting you there?”

That is the challenge, right? For many of us, our inspiration comes from far off lands. Even if we are writing about a fantasy world, chances are we gathered inspiration from some real life location. So, what do we do when we can’t abandon the ship of our real life to set sail for unexplored territory? After all, we can’t all be Sasha Alsberg

…even though sometimes I would really like to be! Have you seen her awesome hair? Her color-coded bookshelves?

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Moving on…

So, I got to thinking. What could we do to get there without getting there? In times where I want to feel my setting, I mean really try to FEEL it, I try to turn to the five senses. Maybe all of these aren’t achievable, but here is what I have been mulling over these past few days…

Start with a character if you can. I really like to put myself in the shoes of characters when possible. Then try some of the following:

Taste: What would the people in your setting eat and drink? They’ve come home after a long day and it’s time for dinner. What would be on the table?

Touch: Is it hot where they are? Maybe it’s time for a trip to the sauna… Is it super cold? Well, we have been getting down to the low 30s in NJ lately. Perhaps it’s time for a late night stroll.

Smell: I am a candle addict. Chances are, it doesn’t smell like “Puurfect Pumpkin” in the setting of my book, but somehow it still fuels the inspiration.

Sound: This is one I absolutely swear by. I have soundtracks for every character in my story, along with many soundtracks for different types of scenes. The thing is, there are soundscapes for everything these days. Head on over to youtube and type in “Busy street sound effect.” You’ll get a ton of results. The possibilities are endless. Oh, and don’t forget to crank it up! Immerse yourself! (Forget about the neighbors.)

Sight: This is kind of self-explanatory. This is where we stare at pictures of the places we want to travel to. I like to change my desktop to a certain location that I’m working on. Every time I see it, it reminds me of certain details I’d like to include. I also highly recommend vision boards! Just because you’re not going there today or next week, you might still go some day! Make a beautiful collage of what you want to see when you’re there one day.

I guess we could all chip in on a magic carpet if this doesn’t work…

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…and last but not least…my NaNoRebelRevisionGoals!

November 1-4: Chapters 1-3

November 5-11: Chapters 4-6

November 12-18: Chapters 7-9

November 19-25: Chapters 10-12

 

November 26-December 2: Chapters 13-15

December 3-9: Chapters 16-18

December 10-16: Chapters 19-20

December 17-23: Chapters 21-22

 

Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. You can look for a progress update next Thursday!

Until next time,

Christine

 

discovering “the end”

As of this very moment, I have crossed over the 45k mark of my novel. I have a target goal of between 60k-65k words to end my first draft with. So, for the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about the words, “The End.” Truth be told, I only have the slightest idea of how my first draft will end. My entire journey writing this novel has been one built on discovery with my main character. Sure, some things have been very clear to me from the start, but most has been a cloudy mess. I’ve been marching right along beside her through the fog. Now, the end is in sight and I want it to be just right.

I can’t help but think about this quote from The Fellowship of the Ring: 

““Have you thought of an ending?”
“Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant.”

–J.R.R. Tolkien

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Perhaps it is because I know this is the first of three books. I already have discovered several things that are meant to happen in the second book and only one thing that I know will happen in the third. So, the big question is…how do you discover “the end”?

Whether that means “the end” to a first book, a series, etc. I have decided that the only thing I can really do at this point is this:

-Rely on my instincts. They’ve gotten me this far. There’s no point in doubting them now.

-Make a list of every plot point I want to cover before the finish line.

-Drink coffee.

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Because this is my first draft, I am very comfortable in the fact that I will be going back and fleshing out many scenes and making major edits. However, I would like to nail down the end of this novel with a sledgehammer. I am filled with exhausted emotion for my main character. I want her to get some relief, but my instincts are telling me that it all isn’t going to be quite that simple. All in all, it’s an exciting process.

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How do you discover “the end” in your projects?

Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

the tale of the self-imposed deadline

Once upon a time, Christine really needed a deadline. For writers that don’t have book contracts, it can be hard sometimes to stick to goals. Even when I am in the most motivated of moods, I still need a goal in mind. After attending BookCon a few weeks ago, my inspiration levels were at an all time high. With that, came a determined Christine, ready to give herself a self-imposed deadline, and talk in third person a lot. (You can read about how I calculated my daily word count goal here.)

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I’m here to report that it is going FANTASTIC. I feel more alive than I have ever felt and am currently 100% supportive of the self-imposed deadline. I’m hoping that my high levels of inspiration last. As always, #5amWritersClub on Twitter has been a huge support. Writing before coming to my day job makes a big difference in my day.

 

Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine