I have the pleasure of a guest post from author Lori Power, who shares...
My Take on Critique Groups
Since the publication of my first novel—Storms of Passion—I have actively belonged to a critiquing group and have had immeasurable improvement in my writing skills—grammar—word choice—punctuation—point-of-view—show verses tell.
To me, it is one thing to have an idea for a great story, quite another to put it down on paper in the manner in which you want to relate it. Imagination does get in the way.
I know. That sounds funny, right? Sure it does. But think about it. You have a great scene planned out. In your mind's eye you see your hero and heroine at the first encounter. They face off across a crowded dance floor. People are gyrating all around them, but they can see only each other. The air is thick with the scents of sweat and various body sprays. The floor is slick and sticky with grime and condensation and spilled drinks. The room spins with lights and shadows dancing in equal measure. As the writer, you see it all—but it takes practice and the point of view of the reader in your critique groups to point out that ALL you have related on paper from the scene is: boy meets girl; boy swings girl into his arms, holds her close, breathes in the scent of her hair and runs his nose along the lobe of her ear while they circle slowly across the floor. Oh, what a loss of valuable, scene setting information.
My critiquing partners and Beta reading group will point out that there is more to the scene. They don’t want just to ‘see’ the bar; the reader wants to ‘feel’ the pulsating beat of the rap song. They want their eardrums to be sore from their own imagination of being there with the characters surrounded by music too loud to enjoy where the words are lost and all is left is the thumping of the bass.
It’s also very easy, for me at least, to lose point of view from one character to the other.
“She smiles and is aghast to discover a small piece of parsley lodged between her molar and eyetooth.”
Whoops, she wouldn’t know that unless she was looking in a mirror.
Time is no friend to the author. We have a story in our head and NEED to get it down on paper as quickly as we can so we don’t lose the essence of the story. Then we go back and build on the bones of the story. Sometimes there’s too much fat in one area and not enough meat in another. I have come to rely on my Beta group as a fundamental part of the creative process.
by Lori Power
Determined to build a better life, Lorna has climbed the ladder to a successful public relations career one slippery rung at a time. But while on her way to an important meeting, a former lover crashes back into her life—literally—and she becomes embroiled in a police investigation that threatens everything she’s achieved.
Mitch Morgan doesn’t believe in coincidences.
Mitch has spent five years trying to forget Lorna, only to run into her on his way to an undercover sting operation. Old feelings quickly resurface and passion reignites, but as his investigation unfolds, evidence suggests the woman he’s falling for might have ties to the very criminals he’s after.
When Mitch tugs any thread of his investigation, it seems to lead back to Lorna. Caught between his desire for the strong, curious beauty and the growing suspicions of his superiors, he must choose between trusting his instincts and following regulations.
Lorna finds herself entangled in a web of betrayal.
When she learns the nature of the investigation—and her role as a suspected spy—Lorna goes to dangerous lengths to clear her name and prove to everyone, including herself, she’s worthy of the handsome, tenacious Mitch. With danger around every corner, Lorna is on the run for her life, but refuses to run from the past any longer.
She can find the evidence she needs, but at what cost?
Mitch now knows her secrets and must find her first and convince her she—and their love—are worth fighting for, before it’s too late.
“And the driver of the hearse just drove off?”
The question of why bother to complete a report if the officer was just going to recap every point, by point, blinked like a neon sign behind her lids. “No, as I wrote, right here.” She pointed to another neatly printed line on the statement. “The man got out to see if I was okay. . .”
The policeman rested an elbow on the counter and smirked. “Nice of him.”
“I guess,” she agreed, forcing a lift to her lips, putting on her best salesman face. “Listen, the man left me his driver’s license. Said an emergency called him away.”
“Emergencies can happen in the funeral business, I imagine.” He lifted his gaze to meet hers, brow furrowed. ‘so, a polite runner then?”
Inhaling deeply, Lorna forged on. “I want to talk to you about that, actually.”
The constable stared, barely blinking, so she blurted. “It’s a fake.”
“What’s a fake?”
“The driver’s license,” she confirmed through tight lips.
“How would you know?”
“I didn’t recognize him at first with the beard and everything.” Oh, God, she was rambling. Get a grip. Lorna took a shaky breath. “I know–once knew–the driver I hit. His name is Mitchell Morgan, not Michael Ward as is written here. The picture on this license,” she said moving her own hand to cover the license on the counter, “is him, but that’s not his name. This,” she paused to tap the document with her fingernail, “is a fake.”
“How can you be sure?” His murky brown eyes met hers, clearly skeptical.
She glanced at the picture again, the tips of her fingers still touching the edge of the laminated surface. How could she explain the fact she would never be able to forget Mitchell Morgan’s midnight-blue eyes? Those same expression-filled eyes with just a hint of mischief couldn’t be disguised. “I’m sure.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
From Radio host (best job ever!), DJ, news reporter to newspaper journalist, like many author’s, Lori has been writing most of her life.
In writing, Lori has discovered a truism: everyone has a great story to tell. All you need to do is listen. Over the years, with all the people Lori has meet previously and daily, both professionally and personally, with an ear to the ground, readers can often find these ‘character’s’ fictionalized in Lori’s stories.
Lori’s first novel “Storms of Passion” was published by Wild Rose Press under their Champagne line, in 2014 and received a 5-star Author’s Favourite seal of approval in 2015.
Collaboration is important to improving one’s craft and as such, Lori is an active member of the Romance Writers of America, TransCanada Romance Writers, The Alberta Romance Writers Association and belongs to both a Critiquing group and a Beta Reading weekly group.
Lori looks forward to continuing to find the good story; hashing out a scene, having fun with a character and writing the story she would love to read.
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