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Revision Hell and the Value of a Good Critique Group

I’ve officially entered revision hell.  It’s not a fun place to be.

Those that follow this blog know that in less than two weeks, I will be in Dallas for the DFW Writer’s Conference. I’m expecting a great weekend of learning, pitching and networking. One of the workshops I am signed up for is on writing a compelling first chapter. There will only be fifteen of us in the workshop and Elizabeth Evans is teaching it. So, yeah… good opportunity (understatement!) and I am excited and scared to death.

I know my first chapter has problems. It contains two major scenes which are significant to the story. It introduces all four POV MCs, but is told only in one POV. The POV character in chapter one is, in my opinion, the most dynamic character and I think the book has to begin in this POV. I need both scenes to be well-received, though, and the first draft was a mixed bag. Some liked the first, not the second. Others the opposite.

That won’t do.

I need to hit with both.

I posted a revised chapter one yesterday for my crit group to look at. So far the person who thoroughly shredded it the first time think it’s better.

That’s the good news.

They’ve also offered a suggestion for a new direction I am unsure about. Part of me thinks it could be a great opportunity to increase tension and add a new layer to my story in terms of character growth and relationships. Another part of me worries that if I go in this direction, I risk making one of my MCs unlikable. I write women’s fiction, and that’s not something I can risk.  The book needs all of the MCs to be liked and relatable. If they’re not, I have failed. It’s as simple as that.

Because of my uncertainty about this new direction, I’m not making any decisions until I hear from more of crit group. I don’t want to say anything to them, rather just see what they have to say. Afterwards, I plan to solicit their opinions on this issue to help me make a decision.

Ultimately, though, I have to just go with my gut instinct and what feels right for the character.

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3 comments on “Revision Hell and the Value of a Good Critique Group

  1. I saw the title of this blog post and I had to read it…now! I’m going through revision hell at the moment, too. I love when my critters suggest a new direction (subplot) for my novels.

  2. I know you have limited time, but doing a rewrite just to see if it works may help. I had to do this with a chapter and I didn’t like it in the end. Doesn’t hurt to try. 🙂 Have fun and good luck.

  3. Yeah, it’s great when critters suggest things that get me to think about the story in a different way. I don’t always follow the advice, but it always gets me thinking. I am leaning towards giving it a try. If it’s completely wrong for the character, I’ll probably feel it right away.

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