Quite a while back I submitted a science fiction story to my writers group. It was my second attempt at a science fiction mystery, after I sold “Take One For the Road” to Analog. I liked the story and was pretty self-satisfied with it, so I sent it to the writers group to get their feedback. As usual, I got a ton of excellent feedback and a couple of themes emerged. Most of these were problems with the plot of the story. Things seemed to work out too neatly. There were other problems with the story.
I liked the story but I didn’t have much hope for fixing it without a complete rewrite. So I set the story aside, with all of the comments.
Not long ago, I took the story out. I reread it and I still liked it. I suspect it needed work, but one thing I ‘ve learned as a writer is to wait to be asked to make changes. Let the editor decide–don’t decide for them. So I sent the story out to a magazine that was looking for submissions. After a while, the editor got back to me saying that the story might be workable, but he had some changes and revisions in mind. And here is where I think the value of my writers group proves itself:
Most of the requested revisions were the same issues my writers group identified.
Good job guys! I’m working on those revisions today and since I happened to keep all of their comments, it should make it pretty easy to organize my thoughts for how to approach the changes. This pile represents their comments on my story:
Need any more evidence of the awesomeness of my writers group? That top page you see is the first of a 4-page, single-spaced critique provided by group member, and friend, Michael J. Sullivan, author of the wildly successful Riyria Revelations series. And that’s just one of many detailed critiques. I am always amazed at what a great writers group I belong to and I feel fortunate to have found them and become a member.
A few of my readers might be wondering why these comments are still on paper, since I am, after all, the paperless lifestyle ambassador for Evernote. Well, this story was critiqued just before I started going wholesale paperless. My plan was not to convert old paper, but move forward with new stuff. The only time I’d convert old paper to digital format is if I found occasion to work with it again. And since, I’ve found occasion, my very next task upon completing this post is importing all of these pages into Evernote.
And once that’s done, I’ll get started on my revisions.