Skip to main content

Helping others and an anniversary

I read a blog post today discussing drafts and the importance of focusing on the "spine." It was a fantastic post on a fantastic blog. For obvious reasons mentioned below, I will keep that part private, but email me if you want the link.

The post seemed a little familiar to me, and I wondered why I recognized the author's name. I wracked my brain for awhile, and then it hit me. This author, who I will call Mr. Critter, gave me my very first critique.

Now I'm sure he doesn't remember, why would he? It was almost exactly a year ago and I was thrilled to have 10,000 words of my first ever novel. 10,000 words! I seriously thought it was something amazing. I was going back and forth between past and present tense when I decided to post on Verla Kay's BBs to request for help. To say that I was inexperienced at that point is a vast understatement. I should never have allowed those words to cross anyone's eyes, but Mr. Critter, who has no idea who I am mind you, posted in reply offering to read the sample pages.

He read them and gave an entire email of critique back to me, even offering to read a rewrite. I never emailed him back after thanking him, though. Want to know why? The very next month he received a dream-come-true book deal from one of the top houses.

Did he have to read my work? Certainly not. And when he did and saw that it was horrifyingly bad, did he have to provide valuable feedback? Heck no.

But he did.

I am further along in my journey now. So I receive requests, separate from my crit partners--Hi!--quite a lot. And regardless of the writer's level, I crit the work. Why? Because Mr. Critter did it for me, and his crit made all the difference in my journey.

We are all busy, for sure, but if someone ventures into this crazy game of writing and wants you to read his/her work, please consider helping. I sucked bad when I first started. I may have given up if that first crit had said--you suck, pack up your laptop and go home.
So, many, many thanks to Mr. Critter and happy anniversary SECOND SOUL. Even if you are eventually shelved, I am forever thankful for what you taught me.



  1. Happy Anniversary! And what a fabulous blog template!

  2. Thanks Laura! This was my project lastnight when I should have been writing. ;)

  3. Your new blog is rockin'! ...I sound like I'm 60 years old. May as well have called it "swell." :)

    anyway, I'm glad Mr. Critter critted nicely. Otherwise we'd never have Twisted Root! Thank you Mr. Critter!

  4. Thanks, Amanda! Now when are you going to blog about the proposal? :)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Pitch Wars 2017 Wishlist!

Hi! How are you? Excited? Nervous? Hating your MS? Loving your MS? Yep, I get it. Been there, have the wrinkles to prove it. But that's what retinoids are for, and besides--

Wait, let me back up and do this introduction thing properly. And, you know, by "properly" I mean Hart of Dixie style.

So, you're probably wondering who I am and why I think I'm a rockstar, when I'm just a brand new little newbie mentor. Well, here's the thing--I'm not really one of those "I think I'm a rockstar" kind of people, so we won't be going there. Sorry. BUT I can tell you who I am. Here goes.


USA TODAY bestselling author Melissa West is the author of more than fifteen novels, each set in the South and ready to steal a reader’s heart with Southern charm, sweet tea, and a whole mess of gossip. Her novels have received high praise and recognition from RT Book Reviews, Seventeen Magazine, Fresh Fiction, and Harlequin Junkie, among others…

Outlining -- a.k.a pulling your hair out

Outlining...yes, that organizational craziness that forces you to look like the poor cat above. Yep, that's what I'm talking about today. After reading a fellow blogger’s post regarding plotters vs. pansters, I began to research various outlining methods. The snowflake method is a very common approach that involves starting with a summary sentence (a.k.a pitch) then expanding out.
Some claim this hinders creativity, while supporters feel it keeps them on track. I've decided to use elements of the approach (click here). I like the pitch sentence to begin with. This took me quite awhile, but in developing my pitch sentence for Twisted Root I found that it helps to think in broad terms. A+B=C But the more interesting element of this model is the disaster moments in the story. You know, those moments where you become the evilest writer on the planet and your characters are tortured.
The Snowflake method suggests that you have 3 disasters (more with sub-plots) and an ending, ea…

Make your readers uncomfortable

I have this one scene in TWISTED ROOT that is…intense. It is so intense that I’ve had reactions all over the place from my CP’s and betas.

Let me start by saying I have a ton of people read my work. An 8 person crit group, 2 crit partners, and 2 that I would say are alpha readers—friends who read tons and have strong editing backgrounds.

So I receive crits all over the place, and this scene has created some interesting responses. One critter went crazy for it, loved it. Another referred to it as slightly icky. I loved that response. :) Another blushed when we discussed it in person. And all of the male critters I have thought it was awesome—go figure. Men have a much higher threshold for uncomfortable-ness, than most women. (JMHO!!!)

Now I’m not saying I don’t adore all my readers. I do. I couldn’t write without them. Each one makes my work stronger. But here’s the thing, I’m keeping the scene, as it is (for now). Wanna know why?

I think as a writer you should make your reader uncomfortab…