Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Part 2: The Other Stuff I Learned Lately

So, among finishing my revision and grading 60 5-page papers on terrorism, and oh, yeah, raising three kids (sorry, baby, now I get why you've been doing all the shopping/cooking/cleaning/laundry), I was recently a critiquer for a literary contest. I can't say which one, or where, or anything, but I can pass on what I learned from reading the first couple dozen pages of a mound of literary fiction entries.

Most of them were purpose-centered around the MC's journey of self-discovery.

Themes were mostly relationships or historical or spiritual.

Internal and external conflicts were tough to balance and maintain.

Often, secondary characters could've used much more rounding out.

Somehow, I could hear the masculine voice of the writer. These premises were either a war or a quest, and were action-packed. But they often lacked reaction and emotion.

Also, as the reader, I found myself looking for dialogue -- really craving it.

And setting was everything: I wanted to know the place and time exactly.

There. Reading all this other work really made me evaluate my own. It was insightful. If I can use it to make my work stronger, that's good. And if I helped other writers strengthen their work, even better!


Jackee said...

Umm... could it be that you AND your husband are superheroes? How did you manage to DO all that all at once?!

These were helpful insights. I catch myself (when writing in first person) skipping areas that should have dialogue. Thanks for the reminder--it's one of many things I need to be careful about.

Elana Johnson said...

What a great list -- I'm glad you had this opportunity and that you're sharing with us!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I bet you are a kick-butt, awesome teacher! I want to take your class! Seriously. :-)

Kjersten said...

I've often walked away with similar feelings whenever I've critiqued an entire novel for a friend or critique group colleague. Insightful list, Jennie.