Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Open the Vent

Vent open.

I've recently joined a writing workshop that meets bi-weekly at a local park.  Other than a writing workshop class, this is my first experience with some folks that I don't know well.  They're a mixed bunch - nice people, younger and older, more and less experienced (like me).

For the second meeting in a row, I feel like I got pounded.  Yeah, I know I need it, but I think it's in the delivery.  I try to make my criticism sound constructive.  I try to point out some things that I liked about other people's words, even if I don't think they were that wonderful.  I've got a lot to learn.  I know this and I accept it.  I wouldn't read my stuff if I didn't need the feedback. 

Everyone's entitled to their opinion.  It's funny how much several people's opinions can vary.
Person 1: I hated that.  It was boring.
Person 2: I liked all the stuff that Person 1 hated.

Someone else's work is read.
Person 1: I loved that so much.
Me (thinking, but not saying it out loud): Really?  I wasn't impressed.

One thing I've noticed is that while most other people's works are laden with emotional detail, my writing is more action oriented.  It's something I'm working on:  making people care about my characters.  Here's what I wish other people would do with their writing: make the people in your stories do something.  I'm tired of reading short stories about the emotional wrenching of "insert character name here".  If something actually happens in the story that's interesting, maybe I'll care.  If I wasn't sitting in this group right now, expected to give you some feedback, I'd have found something else to read.  Do I really have to wade through 5, 8, or 10 pages of description (regardless of how good it is) only to find out that the story didn't have a twist or something interesting actually happen?

Sometimes I get the feeling that people forget that they're not just writing to entertain themselves.  They're supposed to entertain the reader.  Tell me that you don't like how I worded something or that my description is choppy.  Hmm, okay.  I think I'll look at that.  Tell me that you were bored because the writing wasn't entertaining or nothing happened?  I'm going to fix that immediately.

Finally, if I'm going to endeavor to bring something for feedback and you pound me, then bring me something you've written so I can see if you're worth taking the pounding from.  Harumph!

Vent closed.

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