Tough Love

I told my crit group to be meaner. Sure, I love that they’re supportive and all. But a lot of times, I just need to know whether something has that special something that might make it sellable. Because I don’t write just to enjoy writing (though I do!). I write because I want to create books, my favorite things in the whole world.

They couldn’t bring themselves to be mean, but after I read my picture book manuscript SQUIRMY, I could tell from their questions and confusion that it definitely was not working! That was draft 7 that I took in and shared, so it wasn’t a first draft or anything. But all 7 drafts were written in a single week–a fury of trying to take a vague concept and turn it into the very specific form known as picture book. A failed fury!

There were lots of encouraging comments like, “I think there’s something here.” “I love the language here.” “Don’t give up on this!”

But for a picture book, the concept has to work. I could write 20 more drafts polishing this, but without a major plot/structure overhaul, it would be like putting pearls on a pig. Pretty useless.

So SQUIRMY heads off to the dung heap. Unless, of course, I come up with some creative way to totally overhaul it. One group member suggested a twist that could be fun to play with. And I might. Eventually.

Right now, I’ll make a note of that twist on my latest draft, and then I’ll wave goodbye to this one. Or at least auf Wiedersehen (until we meet again). But that means I get to say hello to an idea that’s hanging out, waiting for its turn.

And I’ll keep working on making my crit group meaner:>)

[Addendum: To be clear, my crit group offers plenty of crit. Lots of questions and comments and talking about what isn’t working yet. It’s strictly being blunt about “dump this one” that I’m talking about!]

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About Laura Purdie Salas

children's writer, poet, reader, visiting author, speaker/teacher, mentor, copyeditor, freelance writer
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5 Responses to Tough Love

  1. kathalsey says:

    Yes, I like my CP group to tell me the truth, but there are times I go away licking my pride and have to let it sit to really understand what needs to be done. I have a horrible PB ms entitled SNAKE MOM AND THE CANDY FAIRY – it’s on that same dung heap. Don’t know where that idea came from , but it was truly awful. LOL

  2. So, so true, Laura. I like knowing what may be working AND what’s not working AND whether it’s really got that magical dose of transcendence.

  3. chardixon47 says:

    I would be lost without my fabulous critique group. Like you, I have my pile of mss on top of the dung heap. We keep writing because we love it.

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