Creative Writing, deliberate practice, and politely asking for feedback

What skills to learn, what tools to get
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Re: Creative Writing, deliberate practice, and politely asking for feedback

Post by FBeyer » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:02 pm

I can understand the Write a Lot part of the solution, that much should be obvious, it's the best system around the feedback I needed to know, but honestly, you've all given plenty of pointers. I'll get busy writing somewhere else now.

1) Writing groups; learn how to sift through groups that are non-productive.
2) Peer review; learn how to critique other's work. It'll reflect back on my own work.
3) Find direct/indirect ways to express myself in writing; put it away until I'm no longer directly emotionally involved in the piece and critique it then. Edit and put it away again.

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Re: Creative Writing, deliberate practice, and politely asking for feedback

Post by Rouva » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:19 am

If you are interested in sci-fi, one option I haven't seen here is writing fanfiction. It is often slandered form and legally grey area, but for practice, it offers quite a lot.
1) depending on your fandom, there are many active commenters who can critique your work for free and they are already interested in your chosen genre. In writing group, it's not guaranteed. I have personally used and AO3, and would recommend AO3.
2) writing fanfiction, especially long fics or series, teaches you a lot about yourself as a writer. Some examples I've learned after three series and sixteen novels:
* how to construct a story to keep it interesting for readers and MYSELF! The latter is especially important to avoid writer's block.
* how much of your story you should plan beforehands? Writers are commonly advised to plan their story outline, or make drafts chapter by chapter, but if I do it, I get bored and don't want to write the story anymore. It's done in my mind after that, so planning too much doesn't work for me. I pick themes I want to write about and just wing it from there. Works much better for me.
* what are your strengths and favourite parts? I don't particularly care about fighting scenes, even though I do them all right. I'm bad at world building, but much better when I can focus on one place, so I try not to write stories with too much travelling. I shine at space opera, unexpected plot twists and relationships between characters.
* what is your personal style as a writer? Your commenters can teach you a lot about that. From the number of kudos, you will also notice how appealing your style and themes are to bigger audience. My works are a bit too dark to ever become wildly popular, but the people who like them, are very loyal fans. If I wanted to write for money, aiming for a suitable niche would be my best bet.
* timing. It doesn't matter if you write a stellar work if there isn't interest towards your characters or setting when you publish.

I wrote professionally for a time many years ago (not in English!) and gave it up because it took the fun out of it.

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Re: Creative Writing, deliberate practice, and politely asking for feedback

Post by aikoaiko » Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:13 pm

Very new here, but writing is also a hobby of mine so I thought I'd try to pitch in:).

I've been in a number of crit groups and feel they are of benefit, but you have to find a type that works for you. There are several kinds available:

1) groups that meet in person at a library or coffee shop, etc.
2) free online communities such as Scribophile or Critique Circle
3) paid online communities
4) 1:1 crit 'partnerships'

In-person groups are probably the oldest form of feedback. You can still find them fairly easily in urban/suburban areas. The advantage to this kind of group is that it is direct and very immediate, and crits are sometimes more detailed. The downside is that you often have to read your work aloud, which for me was pretty difficult. Also, you're often dealing with a very small group that can't be relied on to show up regularly, LOL. This means you've not only wasted a ton of money on gas (undesirable in groups like this:)), but you've also wasted time driving to and attending something that won't give you much 'functional' return. I would also add that they usually only meet once a month, so if you are writing more than 1-2 pages per day (for ex) you cannot hope to hog a group's time with 30 something pages. They're mostly social groups, I've found. This is fine, but not if you want to grow quickly.

The online communities offer a larger pool of 'critters'. They can also align your work with readers who share the same genre or who are at least INTERESTED in your genre:). If you prefer anonymity, also, this is a good format to use, and the turnaround is quicker for a higher-volume writer. Another advantage---especially in the case of Scribophile and CC---is that membership is free and your work is generally safe (not open to the online public, etc). The downside is that free groups may tend to be less 'serious', so if you're looking to get published you may want something more professional, like communities that are paid. Personally I've had the best luck with communities I subscribed to because of genre-specific groups that I could count on for regular feedback. I developed great friendships there and found some wonderful crit partners that I still use today.

So all in all it depends on what you need, how serious (or unserious!:)) you are, and whether you're willing to pay for critiques. I have found that paid vs. unpaid are not always distinguishable from one another, but you CAN count on receiving regular feedback from paid because members want their money's worth:). Either way, especially at first, you DO need some sort of feedback because it's really very difficult to judge your own writing. I have a great partner now who routinely sees things I hadn't noticed, and we're able to help each other improve.

HTH, and good luck!

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