Friday, October 22, 2010

How Will I Know? (No, Really, How Will I?)

Okay. I know I'm dating myself here, but do you remember this album? Back in the day of 80's big hair and stirrup pants, I'd listen to it daily, singing into my hair brush-slash-microphone. Remember the How Will I Know song? Whitney was so cool in the video with her gray mini dress and florescent extensions. She bounced around, looking gorgeous, asking how she'd know if a guy liked her. (Seriously, wasn't this a moot point? Didn't every guy in the 80's love her already?)

Lately, I've been wondering about my story. I've worked on it for years. Revising, rewriting, taking breaks, and coming back again. Now the big question is . . . . Should I change the beginning? Should I take out the first chapter and replace it with the third instead? Like Whitney said, how do I know? What's the right choice? I've read this manuscript over so many times, I've compromised my judgement on the matter.

I have a great critique group, but life is interfering with our getting together. Recently, I've given thought to joining an online critique group. Have any of you done that?

What do you think, bloggers? How do you solve issues like this?


  1. It might be best to find the right reader online. I feel isolated in my writing where I live. My little writer's group doesn't meet regularly, either.

    I went to a writer's workshop put on by the Highlights foundation. It was excellent.

    Keep writing and singing!

  2. Okay my cp and i are continents apart but we love each other, we do discussions by chatting online and just email the crit. It works perfect for us.
    On Whitney its a shame she had to pick the one guy who loved her in a funny way.

  3. Sometimes you need to get distance from a project. Like maybe work on something else for awhile? Start a new one? Then come back to this and you can see it with fresh eyes.

  4. This is the struggle I'm going through right now. It'd be nice if I had a pro who could tell me. If you figure this out let me know.

  5. I have a few crit groups, because more eyes can be good (but it can also be a bad thing when you get too many opinions). I'm working with my writing buddy, who is excellent at finding things and pointing them out to me. I don't think I could do such a good job w/o her.

  6. My CP is relentless with me. She will cut me no slack, so that's what helps me. But sometimes, just reading another book you love, and then reading your own stuff can be enlightening. Not for comparison, per se, but a fresh look.

  7. Wish I had a magic answer. (Loved that song and video, BTW! I was so right there with would I know if Ricky liked me?? HOW??? LOL!)

    But yeah...been in the same situation many times with my writing. I have a great group...but sometimes it's hard since none of them write women's fiction or romance. I thought of joining an online group strictly for my genre...but I don't know. It requires a lot of time that I'm just not sure if I have right now.

    I did get lucky though...and found a digital publisher who loved my book. I've learned so much from my editor writing has become much stronger.

  8. Online critique parnters are great! That's how I met mine and I don't think I could finish (or start) (or do anything, acutally) without them! I say find a group! :)

  9. I say join the online crit group (or create one just-for-you) and get a fresh opinion. Sometimes it takes someone completely unrelated to the project to see the forest for the trees...or to identify the species of tree...

  10. I plan to find a CP once I have more for them to critique. Yes go for it girl! I did '' for a while until I discovered its perils. It set me back a whole week it was that AWFUL! Getting a supportive CP is worth their weight in gold.I have been lucky enough to have a couple of critiques from recent blogging friends that I really appreciated too. Oh and yes Whitney was gorgeous: voice, hair, body and face. I still have the cassette tape plus the CD. :O)

  11. Take some time away from the manuscript. A week. Maybe two weeks. The whole time work on something else. Then go back to it and see if something strikes you as the right way to go.

    If that doesn't work, try harder to get your critique group to meet up. Often, the very act of reading something aloud to others will help you pinpoint what's wrong about a piece and what needs to be fixed.


  12. I would trust your instinct, but if you really need another opinion, you should definitely hit the internet for a critique partner/group hunt. A lot of people will be glad to help as long as you choose the right ones. Without face-to-face interaction, some people give up quickly or tell you how wonderful your book is so you'll tell them the same.

    A great place for a first page critique is Nathan Bransford's website:
    Go to the forums and look for the Critique Partner page. There are a lot of people there who are serious!

  13. Roxy: I wrote my first book in the '80s. The first draft was horrible, as was the twentieth. I joined a writing group. The group assured me it was horrible. Three years and many revisions later, I received an option for a TV movie. I have been in groups ever since. If you need honest critics online, I would be happy to join. Have a great weekend!

  14. Oooh nothing like a critique group of whatever means - online or face to face, one person or many! I took the plunge yesterday and I've had some really really helpful feedback!!! I say go for it (the online ones!!).:-) Good luck!!!!
    p.s. now I have THAT song going round inside my head! LOL!
    Take care

  15. I danced to "How Do I know?" in gym. I was awful. One of our moves was called "The Madonna". As if it wasn't painful enough to be a teenager.

    My critique group seems to have fizzled as well. I'm hosting a Blog Haunting from 10/28-11/1, where we can haunt blogs and look for critique partners. All you have to do is leave a comment about you, what you write, and if you're looking for a partner. Then go comment on three other blogs. I hope you join us.

  16. I have heard many people have great success with online critique groups. However, I have also heard many horror stories about work being stolen and ideas being copied. If you do begin to participate in online groups, I say proceed with caution. Good luck on getting out that final draft!

    Alyssa Ast

  17. I've gone back and forth too often on my first novel. I've started revising my second (in the trilogy) but somehow I don't have the drive anymore I did when I first wrote them. Like you Roxy, I think I've seen it too many times to know anything about it any more.

    I've had some good and some mediocre feedback on the first. My Baby. I've had more interest in the novels on=line than in my ftf crit group. I think because there are so many others writing in the same genre online.

    My crit group is pretty varied, and my subject matter is difficult.

    I think you gotta find partners where you can. Some of the best writers I know are online, many still struggling to get that first novel Agented themselves.

    Its an awesome world in the blogverse. If you go the route of on-line partners, I'm sure you'll find a good fit.

    BTW; I adore Simon. Just looking into his eyes in a pix makes me swoon. What a rebel he is on Mentalist. Awesome backup muse.


  18. I read your post twice. It's so from the heart. Thank you for sharing! I think you should step back from your MS, read other books, start something, then return to your MS. If you're still not pleased, then blog that you need a beta reader. Good luck!

  19. I'm with Madeleine, I would love to have a critter or a group of them once I have something worth critiquing. I am so short on time that my writing is very slow going and it can be weeks or even months before I have any major forward movement. Sometimes I work in very small steps and sometimes because I have to work in such small increments, I fall out of love with my projects. :( I always feel like I would not have the time to devote to a good crit partner or group and I wouldn't have enough of my own work to contribute to the partnership.

    Finding an online person or group might be a good idea. I just recently started having some friends read my writing and of course they all tell me it's amazing, lol. The only things that have been pointed out are two typos. I don't have anyone yet who will be brutally honest, but I have met some other writer bloggers who I think would be a good fit if I could get it together enough. Maybe someone you have found in the bloggy world that you feel would work out? Good luck!

  20. Whitney!!

    Ah, how I remember this album!

    I say: give it a try. Save your MS as a different doc and give yourself permission to just 'play' - don't worry too much about messing things up. Just shift around bits and see if it works. Good luck!

  21. I have done both and I have to say that at times both seem to be overwhelming. Right now I have neither, and it's working well to get my novels together, once I think they're at a point to be looked at I'll choose online, then go in town.

  22. Now that song is stuck in my head, thanks! ;)

    I solve problems like that by trusting my gut, kind of a lame excuse but it's true. Oh, and by asking non-biased folks when I can (they are surprisingly hard to come by).

    I say if your gut tells you to scrap 1 and 2, then do it! Trust in yourself. :)

  23. My CP and I happen to be on the same continent at the moment, but usually we're half a world away from each other. We get great results with IM, emails and Skype when necessary.

  24. I agree with those who say you need to move on or take a step away from what you're writing. You're going to drive yourself insane! At some point, we have to say "Done and done" and move on. Join an online group, if that's what will work for you, but start a new story. Get a fresh start on something else, and then go back to this one once you've put some distance between you and those characters you get so sick of reading about.

    ♥ Mary Mary

  25. It's tough to find that cp that really "gets" what you're trying to do. I lucked into my critique partners-- met one on a writing discussion board and one in the restroom line at a conference. They are awesome!

    Take some time away, make connections, find writers who are working towards the same goal and are into the kind of book you're writing.