Thursday, March 4, 2010

Polishing Rough Gems In A Hurry

Yesterday, I talked about letting a story simmer awhile before revising and polishing it to ready-to-go-to-an-editor form. I do believe that's a good approach which keeps writers from sending out work that still needs some attention. But there are times when speed is a necessity.

Some magazine editors assign articles to a writer they've worked with previously. They know the kind of work they'll be receiving, know if the writer adheres to deadlines and can accomplish the list of things to be included in the article. All well and good for the editor, but it can send the writer into a frenzy. Some writers work well under pressure, others do not.

If you're a writer who suddenly finds herself in a situation like this, you have no time to stress out. Get to work!

A writer friend was given a very short time frame to write an article which required interviews with women who headed a business. You don't snap your fingers and ask a CEO to drop what they're doing and answer your questions. It takes time to set up the interviews, conduct them, and then incorporate what was learned into a full article. My friend has walked up this road before so she got to work on the interviews and on with the assignment. She wasn't happy with the final result. But she had a solution.

She went to her writers critique group, told them she had a short time frame and needed help in getting the peice ready to submit to the editor. The group came to her resuce like Wonderwoman in the comics. They swooped in with one suggestion after another. One flat-out told the writer that the opening paragraph was boring. Being a professional, the writer took it all in stride, studied the comments and made suggested changes, then came up with a finished article she could send to the editor with satisfaction.

Newbie writers might worry that it might be wrong to let others rewrite work you take credit for. Writers critique groups don't rewrite. They offer their thoughts on the good things and the not-so-good parts. When told that the first paragraph was boring, the writer had to sit back and ask herself what she could do to make it more interesting, to draw her readers in immediately. That's not letting someone else rewrite your work, that's letting someone else trigger your own thought process.

If you find yourself needing help in a hurry, it's a major plus to have a critique group to turn to. One more reason to join a group like this.

1 comment:

  1. Our writing group has become a lot better at critiquing. At first no one wanted to be the bearer of bad news, but now we've learned how to give our opinions without being harsh. I've started looking forward to hearing other opinions.