As frequent readers of this blog may know, I am the coordinator of Shenandoah Writers—a “real-life” writing/critique group located in Harrisonburg, Va.—and Shenandoah Writers Online—a writing community open to writers of all genres and levels, currently with upwards of 50 members located all over the U.S. and one in Australia (we’re basically global 🙂 ).
This Tuesday, June 29, from 9-10 P.M. EST, I will be hosting our monthly SWO live chat on Shenandoah Writers Online.* Our chats sometimes run over, if we feel so inclined, but the “official” time for this event is from 9-10 P.M.
This month’s topic: Blogs & Blogging
Come with your questions and/or expertise in this exploding area of social media.
Since last month’s chat, the Grou.ps network seems to have fixed some bugs and added some new features to the chat function—like chatting within the group, conducting private chats between yourself and another member & going “online” and “offline” in terms of chatting). I’m hoping that means it won’t stick as much as it did last time.
Even if you can only stop by for a few minutes, it’d be good to have you poke your head in and say hello.**
*For more information about SWO, click on “Shenandoah Writers” in “Categories” in the right-hand side bar.
**You must be a member of SWO to participate in the chat. Not a member yet? E-mail me or click here to get started.
For those new to the blog, I just had to move my online writing group from Ning to Grou.ps, and the new network is buggy: I tried to send a reminder about the chat to all SWO members today to no avail (I found out that feature has been defunct the last two days—grr!), one of my regular attendees couldn’t access the network at the time of the chat, as well as a host of other wonky things with the new site.
Eeeeeeeeh - the site is buggy, Doc!
Overall, I’ve been impressed with Grou.ps. After all, it can’t be easy for them to accommodate the Great Ning Exodus of 2010. They have a tech support group for administrators, which has been helpful to me, and they seem to be actively taking care of buggy things as people report them. However, don’t mess with my chat!
I suspect they’ll have all the kinks worked out before the May chat. (I hope! I hope!)
If you missed our chat on revision and rewriting tonight for whatever reason, here are the highlights:
Re: Revision & Rewriting: What’s Your Process & How Do You Know When to Stop?
We discussed a method of editing I use: editor Bobbie Christmas’s “Find and Refine Method” as outlined in her out-of-print book, Write in Style: Using Your Word Processor and Other Techniques to Improve Your Writing
In the book, Christmas discusses how to tighten your writing and lists words and phrases you can search for within your manuscript to quickly find the problematic areas—all using your word processor’s “find” function (i.e., passive verbs, adverbs, certain words and phrases writers often overuse, etc.)
One member mentioned a CD called Writer’s Mind, which is designed to engage patterns of your own EEG and stimulate your creativity
We talked about reading your manuscript aloud
Doing this not only makes others think you are strange, but it also enables you to catch spelling/grammar mistakes as well as pinpoint problematic syntax, etc.
We touched how allowing space/distance between yourself and your manuscript is key
If you are too close, you’re not going to catch as many errors—your brain kind of fills in missed words, etc.
We debated how much space one needs—how much distance—and this, of course, is subjective
Some felt sleeping on it and revisiting the manuscript the next day was sufficient
One person suggested you not live, touch, or breathe the MS for at least a month before editing
Some mentioned sending the piece to beta readers and working on something else to get your mind off said manuscript
By the time the betas have read it, you should be sufficiently recharged
Make like Michael Strahan's front teeth, and get some space between you and your MS!
This led to a discussion about beta readers—Re: where to find them and how to know if you can “trust” someone to give you constructive feedback
Some places suggested to find beta readers included: listservs, online writing groups, writer friends you make at conferences, etc.
One of my favorite comments of the chat: “Beta readers = fellow writers. Avid readers. Not Mom, Not Dad. No one you’ve slept with.” 🙂
Re: How to know if the betas are going to be any good
We pretty much agreed that it’s a crap shoot
You want to be on the lookout for someone with a “good eye”
You might establish this by getting a feel for the person through e-mails, chats—get to know them—see if they’re a good fit—research them. THEN, make your decision.
One member said he has his betas complete a questionnaire so he can elicit constructive feedback—a very interesting way to guide the beta reader to focus on whatever you need them to focus on!
You could also pick up a beta at a pet store for, like, a dollar.
Re: How to know when to stop editing
We pretty much said it can be kind of a gut thing
My rule: When you’ve revised so many times that you hate yourself—and your manuscript—and you feel like you might physically die if someone made you look at it again, then you *might* be done . . . but you should probably still have someone else look at it at that point. Get that distance we mentioned.
Rappers from the '90s have surprisingly good advice for revising. (It was a toss up between this and one with "Stop - Hammertime" spray-painted on it.)
We discovered that the new chat has awesome—but random—emoticons that we just stumbled upon
For example, by typing “(rain)”, a raincloud appears in place of the words—WHA?
This distracted us several times.
We discussed light versus edgy YA, as a few of us learned we had been hearing similar comments from agents about our MSS.
Marice decided she’s going to host a writing conference at her place Down Under. 😉
I invited myself to Australia, Los Angeles, and Macon, Ga.
Now, it’s your turn. Anything to add to the conversation?