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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Value of Good Feedback, Early

West Side Gang

I've mentioned my local writer support group here, the West Side Gang, several times. I definitely want to talk about my participation with these people again. Last night there were six women and two men in attendance. (I tell you that only because the picture shows just women.)

Although I'm up to chapter 11 of Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp with the writing, the group only meets twice a month so my sharing is way behind the writing. Last night I read chapter 4 to them. It's the chapter where the crux of what the mystery will be is revealed.

I learned some things from their reactions. This is perhaps an even better story than I anticipated (assuming I can carry it out as well as I introduced it). They were obviously gripped by the "facts" of the case, and are already identifying with the two children in the book, Star and Sunny.

Based on that observation, I think I can dismiss any ambivalence I was feeling about "moving the plot forward" fast enough. It is taking a lot of chapters to create the back story and set the reader up for a big discovery. But I think the interaction of the characters is going to be enough to hold attention.

I am continuing to do at least an adequate job of ending chapters so that people want to read the next one right away. Every meeting, someone says something like "Is that all?" When I finish my chapter.

Somehow, this book is turning out to have more depth of meaning than the first one. Although both are cozy mysteries, the story line of this one is clearly more poignant.

Of course, the group also serves as my "alpha readers." They help me catch errors, repetitions, boring sections, etc. The fact that there are people with many backgrounds and styles who attend gives me varied perspectives.

If you are writing, and seeking publication of any sort, I strongly recommend joining a writing group. Remember, this advice comes from a group avoider, so you can be sure I really mean it.

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