Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB
Taxes are coming up, all too soon. And I’m starting to look at old, filed papers. Speaking of which, I have plenty of old copies of critiques from various classes or workshops. Critiques I paid close attention to, made voluminous notes on, etc.
But, did I put them to actual use? It seems, I’ve been far too lazy in that regard. Let’s take an old story I worked on one year for NaNoWriMo but never got back to. Or, at least didn’t get “back to” enough: I have notes from a workshop I went to, with multiple copies of that particular chapter or two. Then I filed them: you know, so they wouldn’t get lost. I needed an example of critiques for a class I was teaching, so I ran a few more copies of a chapter or two. And let them have it to “practice” critiquing. At some point I took some of it to my usual critique group. They gave me even more notes. Later, I started a small, new critique group and — you’ve got it: gave them some pages.
Some of those times, I made some changes. So page 4 for one group of critiques may or may not match up with page 4 of any other critiques. And I personally wrote down notes from each of the sources. In different places.
Now I’m stuck with pages, and Pages, and PAGES of critiques, pages which don’t match, different versions of the same scene — and it’s mostly a frustrating mess!
The thing is, I believe in the story. Over time, I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into it. But not enough.
So here’s what I’m thinkin’: IF you submit pages to any kind of critique — classmates, a teacher, a formal critique group, a workshop bunch, etc. — make one coherent copy of all your notes as soon as possible after receiving them. While it’s all still fresh on your mind, decide which comments and/or corrections need to be given credence, and which do not fit what you wanted for your story. Make the changes.
The final step is up to you: Do you want to keep those critiques and notes for posterity? If so, file them along with the current copy of you mss. (You may have older versions on file as well, but keep ONE copy of the ultimate version of your best work. Don’t let it get mixed up with all the other versions.
The other choice would be shredding all the old critiques and notes once you’ve put the useful ones into practice. You may want to wait on that just long enough to have it in the hands of your editor and/or agent.
In any case, why keep all copies of every comment if you made a carefully analyzed list of all the changes you agreed with, and then put them into practice?
OK. Back to “my” problem, now that I’ve given you methods to avoid doing the same: how would you deal with a pile of notes, critiques, various versions, etc., that might take up half a file drawer all by itself? Please suggest your ideas in the comments below . . . I’m drowning here in a paper tsunami!
See you next for Spellbinder Saturday!