Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Please Welcome My Guest, Marilyn Meredith, Mystery Author - Morgan Mandel
Tempe has unsettling dreams, dreams that may predict the future and bring back memories of her grandmother’s stories about the legend of the Hairy Man. Once again, Tempe’s life is threatened and this time, she fears no one will come to her rescue in time.
Now that you've heard something about Marilyn's latest book, here's some great advice from Marilyn about Critique Groups.
Though I certainly realize all critique groups are not the same, I couldn’t get along without my critique group. I’ve belonged to it for twenty-eight years. I found it through an ad in the newspaper when I first moved into the area.
The group began as a college creative writing class that kept attracting the same students. It evolved into a group that met in the instructor’s home. When I joined, the group moved from home to home and the instructor was taking a break. At that time, there were at least ten members, often making it impossible for every writer to read what they brought. In that case, the ones who were left out got to read first the next week.
For a short while, the group consisted of people who were more interested in getting together than writing. One fellow couldn’t stand to be criticized. The new facilitator suggested that we move to her home and handpick who should join us—those who were serious about their writing. From that time forward nearly everyone who has become a regular participant really wants to improve their writing.
People move on for one reason or another, and at this time we are now meeting in the originator’s home, the instructor who started it all. We have five regular participants. Each one brings a chapter, about ten pages or so, with pages printed out for everyone to follow along as the author reads and writes comments.
We have some loose rules. No interruptions while the author is reading. When he or she is done, we take turns critiquing the piece—again, no interruptions. After, if the author wants to explain something, that’s allowed. However, we’ve all come to realize that if an explanation is necessary, some rewriting is needed.
I’m the most published of the group, but I find its help invaluable. I consider them my first editor. I’m the only one writing mystery, but that hasn’t been a problem. One member is great at finding grammar mistakes and inconsistencies in content. A younger author always picks up on dialogue or clothing that’s old-fashioned or doesn’t fit the piece. She also gave me some great tips on how to describe running on the beach. Our one and only man is invaluable for problems with firearms, cars, and male dialogue. Another member doesn’t give much criticism but writes great comments and suggestions on the chapter itself.
When I’m home, usually the next day, and start going through the chapter, using the papers they’ve made their notes on, I’m amazed at the different mistakes they’ve found and the variety of comments. Of course there are some I don’t agree with, but usually just the fact that something bothered the reader gives me a nudge and I find a better way to write the sentence or paragraph.
At my most recent writer meeting, I thought what I’d brought was a truly exciting action scene. When I was through, one of the members said, “You’re not going to like what I have to say.” Gulp. He thought the whole chapter was too choppy. I had to think about that for awhile. The others voiced their opinion and more or less agreed. I know that when I’m writing something exciting, I don’t write as much as I should. Most authors seem to have the opposite problem and become too wordy.
So now it’s up to me to flesh out the chapter, develop it so it won’t be “choppy.” I can do that.
Thank goodness for my critique group because I honestly thought it an exciting piece. Oh, the excitement was there, I just left too many questions unanswered as the others pointed out one by one.
Yes, they heard every chapter of my latest book, Dispel the Mist, as well as most of the others in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. In fact, they know Tempe almost as well as I do. Besides being critique partners, they’ve all become good friends despite having different backgrounds. We all have one thing in common—we want to be the best writers possible.
Dispel the Mist is available from the publisher http://mundaniapress.com as an e-book and trade paperback as well as online and your local bookstore.
Marilyn Meredith is the author of over twenty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Dispel the Mist from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. No Sanctuary is the newest from Oak Tree Press.
She is a member of EPIC, four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, WOK, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was an instructor for Writer’s Digest School for ten years, served as an instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat and many other writer’s conferences. She makes her home in Springville CA, much like Bear Creek where Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com/ and at her blog - http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com//.
Please leave a comment for Marilyn. Maybe you have some good or bad experiences with critique groups you'd like to share, or maybe you'd just like to say hello.