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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: J. Hali Steele


Critters.

No, they're not a bunch of little creatures running around with nuts and looking for cover.

If you've ever written a story, want to publish the little gem you've worked so long and hard on--find a good critique group or partner. One that fits you. You'll only grow as a writer if you learn the mechanics of writing. I remember reading somewhere that great authors weren't born that way--they learned to write.

You have a story to tell, so now you have to write it in a way that others want to read it. Nothing works as well as having someone (no, your mom, sister or best friends don't count!) look through your WIP with a fine tooth comb. The fun part is--you will get to comb through theirs.

When I joined my first group, it literally scared me to death. I was getting ready to give my story, my baby, over to a total stranger to rake over the coals! What if they didn't like what I wrote? What if they tell me to forget it, you're terrible. All these things ran around in my head until I gathered my courage to hit the send button and posted the first chapter. And, boy, my first one was tough. The critter (we'll call her Rebecca) wrote, "watch the head hopping." Then every other sentence there appeared a box to the side saying, "whose POV is this?"

I've since learned that little box to the side is a comment box. It's used to give suggestions and comments, and if used effectively, it will help you to hone your craft. All kinds of good stuff can appear in that one little box. One day there was a comment to me from Rebecca, who'd previously raked me over the coals, in a nice way. She said, "Wow, this is good." An encouraging note that told me I learned, I improved, and boy, did it make me giddy with joy.

Without all my critters help, I'd probably still be sitting at my computer, alone and struggling through another story, wondering why the hell my email was full of messages saying “thanks but no thanks.”

There are many groups out there who share their expertise in various genres. Google critique groups. Find one that fits you and always keep an open mind. You'll only improve at what it is you love doing--writing.

Good luck on your path to whatever dream you are striving to achieve.

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-© J. Hali Steele

4 comments:

Rebecca Royce said...

I totally didn't mean to drag you over the coals. I would have said nothing if I didn't know how talented you are. That much was obvious from day one. I ignored the one who were beyond help and you've taught me a ton too. I remember if was you who helped me see how important it was to have a really really exciting beginning to open a book. So I've learned a ton from you too.
So thrilled for all of your success

J Hali said...

Hey, my bestest critter - Thank you ever so much for hanging in there with me. You have been super!

Valerie said...

Hey J. Hali,

Thanks for being my critter for a little!

Valerie
aka V.J. Devereaux

J Hali said...

Hey Valerie, it was my pleasure, can't wait to buy that one *wink*