Showing posts with label coaching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coaching. Show all posts

23 May 2012

Send me in, Coach!

by Robert Lopresti

I am working like blazes on a piece of fiction I hope to finish before a contest deadline, so don't expect a long, well-thought out masterpiece this week (as opposed to every other week, of course).  But the work did bring a subject to mind.

You see, I have run my piece past two of my fellow writers, and that has been an interesting and useful experience.  R.T. Lawton and I have been swapping stories regularly for a few years, and I know my work has benefited from it.  (I hope he feels that his has too.)   Last year James Lincoln Warren asked me to preview his entry in the Black Orchid Novella competition, and, since he won, I am prepared to take all the credit.   Sorry, I meant to say, that since he asked for my help I felt free to request his. 

Both of them offered helpful insights into my story, including:
* typos (no matter how many times Spellcheck and I have gone over the damned thing)
* unclear sentences (one was so difficult  to clarify I wound up having my narrator address the reader directly: "now, hear me out...")
* flashback confusion (this is the one point I am still struggling with... telling the story chronologically will lead to a dull patch.  But REtelling it is complicated.)
* a great big honking plot hole that needed to be fixed.

If and when this thing gets published I will bore you more detail about this.  But right now I am just interested in the coaching experience.

For more than a decade I have been a member of a songwriting group.  Every month we get together, sing new or at least unfinished songs, and let our fellow members have at them.  We always warn newcomers not to make the classic rookie mistake: "I'll bring my best song and wow them!"  Since we are in critical mode we WILL find something wrong with your song.  Otherwise, we aren't helping, are we?  So, we emphasize the need to bring something unfinished.  And the songs do improve, sometimes remarkably so.

Of course, when I send a story to a coach it is as close to finished as I can make it.  I want them to be brutal.  (Hey, the editors won't by the story because of my charming personality.)  And both James and R.T. have been very helpful and constructive.

(But I do have a question for them: how is it that all three of them missed the fact that my character Andrew changed his name to Anthony twice with no explanation?  And Victor, perhaps out of sympathy, decided to become Richard at one point.  Ah well.)

Unfortunately, my dear friends have carried me as far as they can.  Now, alas, my fate all in my hands.  So, why am I wasting time talking to you guys?

But you have a moment to spare you can tell us about your experience with writing groups or partners.  I will try not to critique you.