Sunday, 6 February 2011

Tell it how it is - with respect!

Knaresborough Railway Station plaque

It's a bit corny but  ... New Year, new writing.  New teaching too perhaps, cuts allowing.

New inspirations: MsLexia short story competition which I have once again entered. The story itself was shortlisted three years ago for the Knaresborough Festival (FEVA).  Then I took the advice on the MsLexia website to spruce it up - quite a bit.  Then I sent it to a new writing contact (more in later blogs with her permission) which produced some really helpful comments.

What kind of comments are useful for a writer?  First they should be respectful of the work that the writer has put in, and that means: be polite.  It doesn't mean that everything you say should be flattering!

Then, begin by saying what you like about the writing: the subject matter, particular words, phrases, metaphors, paragraphs that touch you in some way, and why.

Next you could suggest ways of improving the work.  For instance (and this is often true of my work) the story might need filling out with more detail about a character, a scene, or a relationship.  Perhaps there is a point where the writer should show more and tell less.  Try framing your suggestions as questions to the writer e.g. 'Do you think this paragraph might be better missed out as you have already told us this on page (number), paragraph (number)?'

At this stage you could mention any grammatical or spelling errors, known as proof reading.  Again I find it useful to couch these in terms of 'perhaps', as some grammatical points are contentious, not set in stone, or accepted by everyone!

Back to one of my older posts: Adeline has now made an appearance on the Headingley LitFest blog site as they have kindly included the whole story.

The 4th Headingley LitFest will take place in March this year, 2011.

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