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Writing Workshops and Why You Should be in One!

Presenting to a writing workshop or class always made me feel like I was about to ride a rollercoaster. Though I like rollercoasters,  my heart and stomach do a sickening tango due to exhilaration and fear. Writing workshops are well worth the nausea, however, and you should be in one to take full advantage. Just as a rollercoaster, you might discover you like the ride!

In high school, my teachers and peers praised my writing and I even earned some county awards. I was proud and thought that it was a good start to my writing journey. But when I got to my senior level writing courses in college, my writing took on a whole new life.

The Process

Most of my creative writing courses were in the form of a ‘roundtable.’ We’d discuss the basics of writing, dive into a particular style or subject, and come back the next week with a polished piece ready to be critiqued.

Critiquing is an intimidating word and so is the experience. We mustn’t forget though, with critiquing comes value. Up until then, people just kept telling me that my writing was great, which was awesome, but I didn’t know how to get better. Until these classes, that is.

Each member would take a turn in reading their piece and the rest would mark corrections and insights on each paper. At the end, we would discuss a variety of changes or enhancements to the writing.

Some of my favorite tips include:

  • Be careful of too many “I” statements when writing in 1st person
  • Break up large paragraphs for an easier read
  • Cut as many adverbs as possible
  • You don’t need to wrap up an ending like a perfect gift to your reader

The Result

With such help from my teachers and peers, I watched as my writing transformed from class to class. I became more action focused and recognized my weaknesses, which I stay more aware of in my current writing. Not only did I find that my writing had changed, but I also found that critiquing someone else’s writing helped me apply those critiques to my own.

Workshopping provided avenues to new and different styles and gave me the tools to go over my own writing with a fine-tooth comb. My professor gave the best piece of advice for someone who wanted to pursue writing. Her advice was to find a writing group. It took me awhile to realize just how right she was.

Now, I’m learning to rediscover the love I had for the groups, because of their ability to facilitate loving and supportive growth.

If you’re looking to give your writing a jumpstart, Write2Ignite’s master class with Joyce Moyer is a great place to start! Click here to learn more!

The format may be different this year, but Write2Ignite has been a great help to me. Check out my post here where I share about my first experience at Write2Ignite in 2017.

Have you been part of a critique group? What are some of your favorite tips from critiquing?

Happy writing!


Leah Jordan Meahl writes to encourage both the rooted and the wandering Christian to go deeper. She’s a born and bred Jesus-follower hailing from Greenville, South Carolina. She’s a lover of devotional writing as well as fiction. Her newest book Pebbles: 31 days of faith enriching parables is set to release August 2020. Feel free to visit her blog here, and ‘like’ her on Facebook.

It’s Time for Write2Ignite’s 2 for 1 Critiques

You may be wondering whether your manuscript is ready to be published. Maybe you have a nagging feeling that your story is missing something, but you don’t know what it is. Perhaps you’re going to attend a writer’s conference, and you want to make sure your writing is polished before sharing it with editors and agents. Your family thinks you’ve penned the next best seller, but what will professionals think? A professional opinion would really help.

We have just the thing: a 2-for-1 critique! You receive a written one-page critique or comments written on your pages from two Write2ignite professionals.

We are offering 2-for-1 Critiques now through June 15. The fee of $45 gets one story critiqued by two professional members of our faculty. Two heads are better than one, and two critiques offer twice the insight!

To submit a manuscript for critique in any of the categories below, email your manuscript to our critique coordinator, Brenda Covert. In the subject line, put “W2I CRITIQUE ENTRY.” Include in the email text your name, email address, title, and category. You may submit as many manuscripts as you wish, as long as you pay the fee for each one.

Categories

Young adult or middle grade novel—1-page query letter or synopsis (single-spaced) plus first pages of the manuscript (double-spaced), up to 10 pages total.

Nonfiction book— chapter outline, synopsis and/or query letter (single-spaced) and first pages of the manuscript (double-spaced), up to 10 pages total.

Picture book—Complete manuscript up to 1,000 words

Early reader/chapter book—First chapters up to 10 pages

Nonfiction article—1,200 word limit

Short story—1,200 word limit

Poetry—5 poems equal 1 critique; 40-line limit for each poem

Devotional—500-word limit each; up to 4 devotionals per paid critique

Manuscript Submission Procedure

Type all manuscripts in double-spaced, 12-pt. font, standard manuscript format. Include your name, the title of your piece, and the page number on each of your manuscript’s pages.

Payment

 

We accept payment by  check, money order, or credit card.

Credit Card: 

if you wish to use a credit card, please contact Cathy Biggerstaff.

Check or Money Order:

If mailing a check or money order, make it payable to Write2Ignite. Please send the check to the address that you receive after you email is confirmed.

Editors – Should an English Teacher Edit Your Book?

Editors & editing

Write2Ignite 2019 is history, but now your work begins! We hope you’re primed and ready to tackle a new project or pull out an old one that needs editing and polishing.

No matter how well we write, we all need someone with an objective perspective to critique our books. That’s why writing critique partners and groups are so valuable to us.

Still, we need to be careful. How do we process the feedback we receive? What is the background or experience of the people offering their critique?

We need to be especially intentional about the people we hire to edit our books. Are they familiar with the contemporary publishing industry? Someone with an in-depth knowledge of English or even classic literature may not be the best individual to edit our books. Which brings us to English teachers…

English teachers as editors?

At first blush, an English teacher sounds like the perfect editor. But the grammar and punctuation rules a teacher may follow might not be the same as those used by editors familiar with contemporary books in your genre.

For example, most of us were taught that sentence fragments are inappropriate. Yet they’re in frequent use today. And many classic literary works are heavy on flowery descriptions which contemporary fiction readers tend to pass over. As Elmore Leonard once said, “When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.”

Additionally, English teachers frequently encourage creative substitutes for the word “said.” However, in today’s publishing world “said” is better to be as invisible as possible. An even better choice is to replace it with physical beats. For example:

“No way!” Mary exclaimed.

As opposed to:

Mary slammed her fist on the table. “No way!”

Another example is the use of punctuation. From the perspective of an English teacher, semi-colons can be correctly used in fiction. However, in contemporary publishing, semi-colons are often discouraged in fiction. Why? They tend to pull the reader out of the story.

All that to say English teachers can be great editors as long as they also understand the current publishing environment.

Of course, they can be terrific at critiquing plot flow and character development. And they would also serve well as beta readers to provide feedback on whether your book held their interest.

So, definitely seek out critique partners and editors. But don’t make your choice based on titles or vocations. And when it comes to hiring an editor, connect with the individual to determine if they’re the right person to edit your work.

Bottom line: understand your genre’s standards and ensure your editor understands them, too!

Write2Ignite Team Videographers!

 

When this picture was taken of the Write2Ignite team at the 2018 conference, little did they know that within a year many of them would become “experts” at taking and posting videos online. Here’s a sampling of some of the recent videos our team created about writing and the conference. View one or view them all! As new videographers, we would appreciate your feedback–and of course, we hope to see you at Write2Ignite 2019!

 

Deborah DiCiantis on the Teen/Tween Fiction Contest

Click here for more information on the contest.

Diane Buie talks about how to get the most out of your 15 minute meeting time at a writer’s conference.

Brenda Covert shares the benefit of getting a critique.

Cathy Biggerstaff with “Bring a Friend” discount.

Here’s the link to the Bring a Friend discount. Cathy is given you an EXTRA big discount. Each friend will receive $15.00 off the regular price-which brings your registration down to $109.00. Since we think going to a writer’s conference with a friend is such a good idea, we’re giving this discount throughout the registration period.

Carol Baldwin with 5 Writing Tips.

Who Needs A Two-for-One Critique?

By Brenda Covert

You may be wondering whether your manuscript is ready to be published. Maybe you have a nagging feeling that your story is missing something, but you don’t know what it is. Perhaps you’re going to attend a writer’s conference, and you want to make sure your writing is polished before sharing it with editors and agents. Your family thinks you’ve penned the next best seller, but what will professionals think? A professional opinion would really help.

We have just the thing: a 2-for-1 critique! You receive a written one-page critique or comments written on your pages from two Write2ignite professionals.

We are offering 2-for-1 Critiques now through June 15. The fee of $45 gets one story critiqued by two professional members of our faculty. Two heads are better than one, and two critiques offer twice the insight!

To submit a manuscript for critique in any of the categories below, email your manuscript to our critique coordinator, Brenda Covert. In the subject line, put “W2I CRITIQUE ENTRY.” Include in the email text your name, email address, title, and category. You may submit as many manuscripts as you wish, as long as you pay the fee for each one.

Categories

Young adult or middle grade novel—1-page query letter or synopsis (single-spaced) plus first pages of the manuscript (double-spaced), up to 10 pages total.

Nonfiction book— chapter outline, synopsis and/or query letter (single-spaced) and first pages of the manuscript (double-spaced), up to 10 pages total.

Picture book—Complete manuscript up to 1,000 words

Early reader/chapter book—First chapters up to 10 pages

Nonfiction article—1,200 word limit

Short story—1,200 word limit

Poetry—5 poems equal 1 critique; 40-line limit for each poem

Devotional—500-word limit each; up to 4 devotionals per paid critique

Manuscript Submission Procedure

Type all manuscripts in double-spaced, 12-pt. font, standard manuscript format. Include your name, the title of your piece, and the page number on each of your manuscript’s pages.

Payment

We accept payment by  PayPal, check, or money order.

PayPal:

To pay by PayPal, use the button below.




Credit Card: 

if you wish to use a credit card, please contact Cathy Biggerstaff.

 

Check or Money Order:

If mailing a check or money order, make it payable to Write2Ignite. Please send the check to the address that you receive after you email your material to Brenda Covert.

Let us know what we can help you with!

Brenda Covert has been a professional editor since 2002, first in the educational field and then in the Christian/family-friendly market. Her editing experience goes from picture books to chapter books to YA novels and adult fiction and nonfiction, including inspirational books, Bible studies, and cookbooks! You can find Brenda online at BrendaCovert.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter, where she’s  @TheBrendaCovert.

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