Home > writing group > The problem with writing genre trash…

The problem with writing genre trash…

So my book got workshopped last night.

The workshopping followed the standard format for this class. 10 minutes of positive. 20 or 30 minutes of critique and suggestions. 10 minutes of the author talking. 

The first ten minutes were so strained and silent I was worried. Everyone loved the character’s voice, her brio, her language. One woman was really impressed with my rythmns, though I wonder if that was just the pleasure of reading someone who could write a grammatical sentence after the past three authors we’ve workshopped. Then there was this… stilted… gaping… strained… time.

They all had the same criticisms, too. Nothing I didn’t know. My villian is a little bit of a cipher. The characters spend too much time apart. Maybe too many verbal ripostes in the first chapter. My synopsis wasn’t ready to be included in a query letter (which I hadn’t even realized was supposed to be the point of the synopsis, frankly). 

Some folks had questions that just indicated they didn’t understand the genre. Which is fine — I don’t really think this will ever be a book read by someone who doesn’t know what “fey” means in a supernatural context. The leader of the workshop, a lovely women named Audrey, seemed to really like my style and seemed much more enthusiastic about my book than she had been about others. If I’m not just reading too much into it. And she admitted she’s not a fan of the genre, so that’s good. 

But some folks just stayed silent. And when I got the papers handed back in, which were supposed to be accompanied by the written critiques, there were plenty that were just… void. One person wrote “Are these metaphorical vampires?” at the top and then wrote “I just couldn’t get into the world of witches. I’m sorry.” Others just had nothing at all. 

I’m trying hard not to get annoyed. I’ve spent the past four weeks slogging through half a dozen grammatically inept stories of middle-aged women leaving their abusive husbands and finding redemption through writing. I’ve dealt with wanton abuse of the comma, overwrought dialogue, and the phrase “they met each others eyes and were swept into a dance which neither of them could resist or control.” I have spent my precious hours during The Child’s preschool carefully marking up these chapters and synopsises with notations on anything that was even remotely good and gently phrased suggestions in a constructive way. Hell, I think I’ve managed to never roll my eyes where the vapid Ingenue can see me!

And these people couldn’t be bothered to jot a few notes? The Ingenue admitted she didn’t even read the synopsis! Her only comment on the first chapter was that she really didn’t like anything with violence in it.

I get that vampires and witches are maybe a little off-putting for someone not into that. But I’m usually put off by naval-gazing novels of middle-aged women’s redemption and I managed to put some effort into it.

I’m not actually pissed, just annoyed. Some of the comment were really useful and I think I’ve decided to ask a few to be in a once-a-month writing group. But I gotta say — I’m going to be a lot less gentle reviewing the Ingenue’s piece (which SUCKS, btw).

Categories: writing group
  1. November 6, 2008 at 6:31 am

    best critiquing group i’ve been in was at a community college, at night. almost all adults, all serious writers. professor was an esteemed poet in her own right, very gentle, but kept the group on track. next best was an amhearst method workshop, eye-opening.

    and yeah, i know the feeling of “i worked my ass off reading your crap and commenting and the ony thing you have to say about mine is you don’t like the genre?!?!?!”

    you might want to go to meetup.com , see if they have writing groups in your area. or see if there is a writers association in your state (i’m a member of the florida writers’ association, very informative. each subgroup is totally different so i go to 2 or 3 meeting a month: lecture, workshop, critique, technology et al)

    i also had an email writing exchange with a friend of mine, we’d trade pieces and rip them. lovingly, but still RIIIPPPP! i loved getting back my pieces all full of red lines. keeps the work true.

    i wonder if there is a workshop group devoted to your genre. might make it easier. check the local bookstores? an on-line critique group? i dunno.

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