Eliminating the NegativeYesterday I wrote about identifying the aspects of writing that you do well and honing them in your entry. Today, we move on to the areas of your writing where you’ve been told by more than one judge on more than one occasion that this scene or dialogue or plot isn’t working for the reader. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s a comment by one judge with a keen eye that your gut tells you is right. This really can happen. A judge noted that she couldn’t picture one of my characters (only one judge), but I didn’t dismiss the comment. Even though the other judges praised me for my characterization, I looked at my writing, and I realized that judge was absolutely right. I hadn’t put the same effort into this one character’s description and speech patterns as I did to the others. I went back and fixed it.
One of the best ways to eliminate the negative is to review what’s not working for you. Highlight passages that more than one judge marked as problematic if their critique rings true with you. Remember what Diane said yesterday about listening to your gut. That’s important. You don’t want to lose your vision or voice as you revise out the negative.
Once you identify the problems that ring true with you, come up with solutions. Divide them into long term and short term goals.
Long term: If you had all the time in the world, and you don’t if you’re entering the GH this year, and you’re writing single title and judges consistently comment that your plotting needs to be more complex to sell in today’s market, research the best books on plotting. Take an on-line class on plotting. Plenty are available from RWA chapters across the country. At the next conference you attend, focus on the plotting workshops. You can’t eliminate a true negative by ignoring it and hoping it goes away.
Short term: Bounce your solutions off readers you trust to give you more than praise, such as your critique partners, or dh and bff . If you’re completely frozen, ask your critique partners to help you come up with a solution and perhaps brainstorm more plot complexity into your synopsis if that’s an area you agree you need to work on.
All problems with grammar and punctuation should be fixed. If you’re changing or adding new passages to your entry, get some fresh eyes to read it and catch those little comma errors and unplanned fragments.