My critique groups often lean on me for using bigger words than necessary. Particularly people who read and adore Hemingway. My weak defense is accuracy: I want the reader to get an exact picture. The response is, “in well-written work, sixty percent of the reader’s vision is what the author wrote; forty percent is drawn from the reader’s own experience.” Now with several years and more than several rewrites under my belt, I understand.
So who had the twisted sense of humor to give an exact definition of ‘fear of long words’ as hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia?
I have been dilatory in my blogging. All of the reasons are good, but like intentions, they pave the way to hell (in the form of low readership).One of the several delaying factors was the success of my writing groups. More people, more writing and more time spent critiquing. I’m learning that bad writing is perhaps more helpful to me than good writing. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading a beautifully-crafted paragraph or watching another writer’s character do something that explains a volume in a few words. That writing adds in an ineffable way to my skill as a writer. But the bad writing, the times when the narrator becomes a blowhard, or the writer has the character tell us something we already knew, or the sentence is just too ugly for a simple ‘k’ in the margin … those are the times I see the same weaknesses in my own writing.So, long story, but the critiquing I’m doing now is doubly time consuming, because I spend as much time fixing the embarrassing parts of my own writing as I do critiquing.Wait a minute. That’s what it’s all about, right?
My writing has been enriched by my friends in writing groups. I’m in three groups, and I think I see a trend toward electronic critiquing. Two of the groups use MeetUp, which allows us to post files in advance of a face-to-face meeting. The standard way of critiquing is to download and print the file, mark it up and review the markup at the meeting, then pass the marked-up copy to the author. The other option is to download the file, use Word’s review function to make notes and then send the file to the author after the face-to-face meeting.
I would be interested in how other writers view the process. For me, once the printing is done, hand notation is easiest. On the other hand, for one monthly meeting recently, I had to print 105 pages.
What do you do
If you edit electronically and have tips on best practices, I’d love to hear them in the ‘Comments’ box. For instance, do you make changes directly in the text or limit your comments to notes in the margin?