Monday, March 26, 2012

Response #7: The Partial

Due before class April 2 (Monday class) or April 3 (T/R class)

Read this previous blog post about what a partial is.

By this Friday at 5 PM, you must have a fairly polished 25-50 page partial to give to your small group. This must be the opening to your book (unless we have made a different arrangement).

The partial should be formatted and presented as you would present a book manuscript to an editor. Go here to see a sample. This means it must be proofread, double spaced, have page numbers, a title, table of contents (if necessary), and any relevant front matter (such as a map or family tree).

This draft of your partial will be read by your small group and by me. You'll think about all the things we say and then go back in and revise the partial one more time for the final.

So, it's okay if the draft you distribute on April 6th isn't "done," but it should be "done enough" that someone can read it. It will be okay for you to include provisional scenes, thumbnail sketches of scenes ("Here there's going to be scene between the protagonist and her mother in an ice cream shop where they talk about birthcontrol while eating banana splits), and questions, ("I'm not sure if these statistics are accurate but will check on this later").

The typical workshop would get grumpy and complain about an incomplete story. But remember: YOUR SMALL GROUP IS NOT A WORKSHOP. IT'S A WRITING GROUP. It's intended to be supportive.

Read this to understand why a small group discussion of a novel in progress is different from a large group, all class workshop of a stand alone short story.

You will email it to the members of your group AND TO ME at, and to Sarah Grubb at

What group are you in?

Monday class

Tuesday/Thursday class

Warning: If you do not email me your partial by 5 PM on Friday April 6, I am under no obligation to read your partial, and you lose the opportunity to have a personal, one-on-one conference with me. You will also lose 50 points each day it's late to your group.

Remember, you also need to produce 2,250 NEW WORDS by April 6 for your weekly words.

Welcome to the wacky world of writing a novel.

Your topic for this week's response: generate 5-10 questions you want the people in your small group to answer about your partial. What kind of feedback are you looking for? How close are you to having your partial  ready for your group, and for me? What are your biggest worries? What do you feel confident about? How do you feel about sharing your partial when you are still in the process of writing the novel? (500-750 words)


  1. 1. How do I create more depth without adding unnecessary characters?
    2. Is there something wrong with my cast being all black and mostly male? (You would think I'm joking about this, but I'm really not.)
    3. How do I handle action scenes?
    4. Is Jacques likable enough? How do I make him more likable/relatable?
    5. How might I draw Alexandre more into the story instead of just serving a “first victim” role?
    6. How graphic is too graphic?

    Looking at that list, it seems like I have a lot of questions related to layering. I'm really focused on Jacques' story, and I've been laying out other plot lines as I go, but I want some feedback on how to make them more substantial than just “dead owl, knife made of owl beak, owl feathers everywhere, etc.” appearing in the story at specific locations and pulling themselves to only minor importance in the overall story. Jacques' story matters to me the most; that's why I cut out the other POVs from my very first draft. But what has that done to illustrating those other plot layers?

    As for how far along it is...I think at last count I'd gone through about 20 pages, but I'm probably going to do a lot more than 50 and just select a section of near-50. More than likely it'll be material that starts just after where the 307 material ends, but as that too will need revising done, I may consider including it. (But probably not, as the words were not generated as part of the class.)

    Honestly? Question #2 is my biggest worry. I have a lot of reservations about writing characters I don't know, and while these are squirrels—I promise, I'm not a squirrel—I was really concerned when I realized I had only one primary female character amidst a group of males. And she's not exactly a paragon of moral virtue. I love the idea that she and Pierre are so similar and think that works well for Jacques' plans, but now I have to wonder if the plot won't be ignored for the nitpicking of gender roles in the novel. I want to create an equality there, but it has to be a natural equality, not written for the sake of having a good representation of gender. And if that means my one really strong female is a cold, snake-like person...I don't know!

    Conversely I feel really, really confident about Jacques as a character, even though I have questions about him not being likable or relatable enough. I just adore writing him, enjoy writing his reactions and his speech patterns, and I think I've captured his character well. I think I've also done a decent job of making the main characters similar, but in the “right” ways. They're all ambitious, but for different reasons, and when those differences run up against one another, it creates the tension I want. Antoinette wants power with little bloodshed and lots of mockery; Pierre wants a lot of power and a lot of bloodshed; Jacques wants a peaceful power. They want the same thing, but their means are all different. And when they don't see eye-to-eye, that's far more interesting—creating tenuous alliances and sparing the lives of enemies—than well-made teams.

    You know what? I've had other people read the writing from 307. I like getting input on my writing, because I feel like I can't give myself input on it after a certain point. I become blind to any errors in it and am unwilling to make changes. Even if I know there are errors, I just can't see them. So I adore writing groups, workshops, sharing work...anything that gets more pairs of eyes on my writing. Every little bit helps. And sometimes they point out patterns that I might not have seen myself while writing. Once I've been made aware of it, I think it gives me the opportunity to actively include the pattern and make the novel that much deeper and more complex.

  2. I'm looking for feedback about the relationship between mother and daughter. Since my own mother passed away when I was fourteen and my protagonist is already seventeen, I could be off about their interaction. I'm looking for first impressions about the characters. Do they care about them? Sympathetic? Not sympathetic? Is there enough "tension" in the first 25 pages? 15 pages? Does it start off in the right place? Is there another place in the first 50 pages that would be a better place to start the story? What kind of characters do you think Mati and Amy are?

    I would say my partial is doing pretty good. Unfortunately, I completely forgot about the partial until 2 weeks ago and I realized that I had been writing random scenes, usually from the middle of the book. So for the past two weeks I've been working to fill in the blanks and create a complete partial. It's been a bumpy ride, but I have had the opportunity to start revising as I'm filling in the missing sections. Ideally I would like to have 50 pages ready, just because I want to get as much feedback as possible, so hopefully I get the ball rolling on that.

    I'm not really worried about much, this is only a draft of the first 25-50 pages. Probably the biggest thing that I'm worried about is where I start the story. In the last novel I wrote, I ended up chopping off about the first six pages so I could start en media res. I'm not sure if I'm going to need to do the same, so I guess that's another question I'd ask my group. Of course another worry, that I’m sure most writers have, is whether my story is good or not. Even that I’m not gnawing on my nails about since there is plenty of time to alter the story later. I’m not even sure if I want to do anything with this story, but it can be a point that produces spin offs for other stories.

    I don't really feel particularly confident about anything. I'm just... content. Plodding along and enjoying doing what I love. I'm still not sure how I feel about the storyline, but I find it easier to revise once I have down the first draft, so I'm not too worried.

    I don't mind if people read my partial, I love the feedback. I usually don't hand out my stories though, unless friends express an interest because I'm afraid they won't like it and I don't want to waste their time or make them pretend to like it. I don't mind if they don't, it's actually good feedback. One of the few benefits I found in writing short stories in college were the workshops. I've overcome my apprehension about sharing my work, although I have problems articulating what my story is about. I prefer just giving it to people to read. Last summer I had the opportunity to have a session with a published author about a novel I wrote. She asked me to practice summarizing my story in five minutes as a sales pitch. It took me 20 minutes. Clearly something I desperately need to work on. I get embarrassed talking about my work so I try hard to explain every little detail, but I don't mind if people read what I wrote. I'm just strange like that :)

  3. ((Daniel Na))

    1. Do my characters feel developed/actualized? Do they feel like real people?
    2. How is the pacing?
    3. Is there adequate description?
    4. Does the world feel concrete/actualized?

    Really, my biggest concern is number 1, I often feel like my main characters lack actual personality. 2 and 3 are kind of tied together. I feel like sometimes it's tricky to find the right balance between rich detail and keeping an enjoyable pacing for the reader. I hope I'm doing that? I feel too close to this story to have any real judgements about it.

    Number 4 is a pretty big one for me as well. One of the things I really love about well written fantasy is the worlds that are built in them. That's important to me and I want to make sure I do it right.

    I think currently I'm around 17 pages. I definitely have enough material to hit the page limit. I have this hidden fear that the story will get away from me-- that I'll have too many elements and characters running around that I won't be able to control all of it. I'm not sure how founded those fears are though.

    I am confident in my writing ability though, and I think on that front it's pretty solid. I have no qualms about showing my work in progress. The worst thing that can happen is you all hate it, right? :P

  4. While 25 pages is the minimum amount, I want to encourage you guys to GET AS CLOSE TO 50 PAGES AS YOU CAN. This is your one shot to get eyeballs on your novel. Don't worry if it's not perfect. Like I said, it needs to be a "fairly polished" draft.


    1. Your small group and I will not be marking on the manuscript. We will not be editing it at all. In fact, I send the manuscripts to my Kindle and read them there so that I "just read."

    2. Don't worry about giving your small group "too much to read." I've set aside TWO FULL WEEKS for small groups to meet. This means that, in the T/Th class, each small group will devote the entire Tuesday class period to ONE MANUSCRIPT, and will devote the entire Thursday class period to ONE MANUSCRIPT. In the Monday night class, each small group will devote the entire class period (2.5 hours) to TWO MANUSCRIPTS. I'll send out an email later with more specifics, but remember this: the small group sessions is not a workshop. It's more like meeting with a Writing Group, and you (the writer) can participate, ask questions, talk about the whole project. It's YOUR TIME to get as much feedback as possible out of your group. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS.

    3. Feel free to include the questions you're coming up with here (and any others you can think of) to the manuscript you give to your group and to me.

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  6. 1. Do I need to include more senses in my details?
    2. Do I need to add more intrigue to my story to make it interesting?
    3. If so, what do you think would be a good way to do this?
    4. How graphic is too graphic?
    5. Do I need to include more characters?

    There are times where I get really into the scenes and then I forget about the plot of the story. I feel as though there isn't enough going on plotwise to make this story interesting. I really focus on how my character Mae feels and I'm not sure if I need to go into detail as to how John feels or if I should even bring in other characters.

    As I was writing I would always get caught up with how a passage felt. It took me a long time to finally somewhat establish a rhythm to my writing. With that being said, I haven't been able to generate the sort of plot structure that I've wanted to. I've been so caught up in the details of what I've been writing that I don't feel as if I've fully capitalized on how my story should be progressing.

    The biggest thing that I'm wanting to work toward is to add to this story and add a bit of intrigue. I don't want it to read as just a flat novel where it's predictable as to what will happen. But since I've been caught up in the details I feel as though my partial will be lacking.

    I hope that when reading my partial my group will be able to help me find ways to add subtle hints as to what may happen, be able to put in those little things that keep an audience interested rather than just bombarding them with details details details.

    And I had questioned whether or not to make a few of my scenes as graphic as they were. They turned out to be more R rated than I had thought they were going to be. But this goes along with what I was saying about getting caught up in the details and not necessarily the story. I wrote a lot of good scenes I think. It's just being able to string them all together that is throwing me off. But yea, I was wondering if it would throw readers off that some of my scenes got more graphic than they would probably want. I don't want to turn the audience off, but on the other hand I think that I would want this for a more mature audience anyway in which case they should be fine with it. Right?

  7. I am pretty nervous about sharing my partial at this stage in the novel writing process. I’m probably only halfway ready to share my partial with my group. I only wrote so far in the order of how I want things in the book, and then I jumped ahead quite a bit and starting writing out of order. While writing all of that, also, I realized I don’t want to put so much emphasis on a lot of what I wrote in my first few weeks. So I’ve basically been trying to figure out the first 25-50 pages in my work on the partial so far.
    I think my biggest worry so far is the structure. I’m still unsure of how I want to break the novel up into chapters or sections, so I’m hoping for some feedback on that. I’m also worried about what I’ve written in the first chapter so far; I’m not sure if I want to start it where I did. I am very confident about my preface, but that’s mostly because I’ve written, rewritten and edited that part so many times. I know that quite a bit of what I have will probably change after the small group discussion, because honestly I’m not too sure about anything after my preface. I’ve been struggling with voice since I changed to the first person point of view, switching between my two main characters. I’m not sure what order I want to put everything in just yet – if I want the story to be chronological after the preface, or if I want to start somewhere in the middle and throw everything else in as summarized back story, but then I’m not sure how much to do that with. I feel like my chapter breaks are done very cliché right now, but I’m not sure how else to divide them.
    My questions for my small group are:
    1. How should I start my first chapter? Is it good as is, should I start at the absolute beginning, or should I throw the reader further into the story and just fill them in on all of the back story throughout the novel?
    2. I’ve been breaking up the chapters by the year in which the events happened. This is mostly because it was easier for me to keep track of while writing, but I’m not sure if it’s the best way to do it for reading. Should I consider different structures or methods for diving the parts of my novel?
    3. I decided recently (2 or 3 weeks ago) to write the story in the first person point of view from the two main characters. Does the voice I have written them in work, or should I try writing it as if they are telling things as they happen to give it a truer voice to the events at that time (right now, it’s written as though they’re older and looking back on everything)?
    4. Also in relation to point of view, should Amy’s death at the end of the novel more strongly affect how her character’s voice is written? I was thinking of making it seem like they wrote this for Lilly at the end (her daughter), but I’m still not sure if that justifies the older voice.
    5. Since Amy won’t be telling any of the last chapter or two of the novel, I plan on adding in Lilly’s point of view to help round out the ending. Would adding a third, or even a fourth, voice throughout the story help to round it out as well? Maybe Andrea’s or Mark’s?
    6. Since the bigger problems with alcoholism in Lorraine’s life come toward the middle of the novel, while Amy’s are prominent from the beginning, would structuring the chapters of the novel by theme work better than the sort of chronological order they’re in now? I’m thinking like how Election was written, where certain back stories that had similar themes were given in the same chapters.
    7. Are the main characters relatable/likable enough? How do I make them more so if they aren't? And how could I bring the minor characters into the story a bit more without creating too many side stories to keep track of?

  8. 1. Are my main characters each distinct and believable? If not, what's missing? (Why do they not feel unique?)
    2. Are the places they inhabit believable? Can you smell, taste, feel, touch, hear, see the environments/locales/places? Why or why not?
    3. Who's story do you think/feel it is? Which character appears to have the most to gain/lose?
    4. Do you feel sympathy for the main character(s)? Why or why not?
    5. Does the story grab you and make you want to know more? If not, why not? What specific questions arise that you hope the story answers?
    6. Are the themes too obvious? What do you think the theme(s) are?
    7. Does this first chapter give you a clear sense of what the novel will be about?
    8. Is there any place that gives you pause? Doesn't make sense? Tripped you up when you read it?
    9. What do you think this book is about?
    10. Does the dialog sound realistic?

    My partial is mostly finished and ready to share with my group. I have 34 rewritten pages now. But I still consider it a skeleton that needs fleshed out. I have concerns that I need to change the point-of-view character, or perhaps change to first person voice. One of my biggest worries is that I haven't 'got' the story yet. At first I thought it was my current POV character's story. And that her friend's story intertwined hers and provided something for her to solve. Now I'm wondering if she is mostly telling another character's story. What happens to her perhaps simply allows her to be in the space to know and tell her friend's story. On the other hand, my current main character is the one who, I think, will be most changed by the events of the story.

    I feel fine sharing my partial, in fact I look forward to getting feedback. However, I also am aware that what is shared with my group is the equivalent of the first scene/section of a short story. I am hoping that feedback will especially help me see those areas where I may be blind. For example, upon beginning my rewrite, I noticed I had forgotten to describe any scents in my story.

  9. 1. Some of my scenes are in different points of view. I know this. What point of view do you think works best for this story and do you think I should have multiple?

    2. I'm bad at developing characters other than my main characters. What would you suggest I do to help create more intriguing characters?

    3. What would you like to see more of?

    4. I tend to like to write graphic scenes, but I've held back for the sake of my peers. Do you think I should write to the level of explicit-ness that I really want to delve into? Or is what I have substantial?

    5. The pregnancy (as you will find out more about) is an idea that came up before I thought of the story-line. Is it effective? Or is it too forced?

    6. How realistic do you find the arrangement between my main character and the serial killer to be? (This will make sense after reading.)

    7. From what I have written, are things predictible? How can I make things not obvious, but still show them as important other than the rule of threes?

    8. I realize at this point, pacing is quick. Cut and dry. I simply haven't gotten the "slow" stuff written as much as my key scenes. Of what I have, do you want more or less explanation? Are things too vague?

    To be honest, I am dreading sharing my partial with anyone. I have reached my weekly word count every week, but a lot of what I have written is random scenes here and there. I'm sure those who read it could generally get the idea of what I'm going for, but I feel like my writing is lacking and my story is going nowhere. I've been really frustrated with this project lately, and I'm just not ready to have anyone read it. I'm nowhere near satisfied with what I have.

    As for feedback, I guess what I'm looking for is what would help strengthen my story. I know the writing and language isn't fancy - I haven't taken the time to make it such, so I know that needs work. What I would really like to know is if my ideas are going in the right direction. Can you see this turning into something bigger and better with more work? Every week I try to get my words out and every week I don't know what to write. I have a lot to learn about the justice system and police system to make this book work, and I haven't gotten to that point yet. So. Suggestions would be great.

    Biggest worries? I haven't figured out my structure and point of view. I'm struggling with every aspect of this novel, its driving me mad. I think a lot of my worries are because I'm not used to large projects like this - I usually quit when I run out of ideas for a story, but here I'm forced to keep writing, so I feel a lot of what is coming out is awful. It's really a self-esteem thing.

    I feel confident about some of my scenes. I have a few that I feel portray emotion with great strength - even though they are few and far between right now.

    Like I said, I'm not excited about sharing my partail right now. I've realized that I'm not so much interested in publishing my writing and that I do it for my own enjoyment. I like to keep my weird ideas to myself with the exception of a few friends. I'm not confident in my work enough to share it with others.

  10. 1. Is the change my main character goes through believable?

    2. Do I need more details on the political problems, or is the story good as it stands now?

    3. Do my scenes gloss over too much perhaps? Is the pacing right?

    4. Are my characters strong? Do they have distinct personalities?

    5. Does the back story play well in practice, or does it distract from the main line?

    I feel like I have a lot of the beginning written, and I haven’t gone too astray from it, so I should have a decent partial by Friday. There may be a few additions that I came up with a few weeks ago to the beginning that I still have to tweak and make stronger, so I guess I’ll have to make sure there is consistency. I’m wondering if I need to lengthen the amount of time I spend with a plot point at the beginning or not.

    I guess my primary concern in handing out a partial of a work in progress is the fact that some of the details could change when I don’t expect them to. I’m still trying to figure out what to do about some ideas and how to make them work together. Of course, there’s always the fear that the partial is going to fall flat and read terribly, but I should remind myself that it’s still a draft.

    Perhaps some of my concerns are in the pacing of the first scenes. They seem pretty quick and lead up to very little consequence. But between now and Friday, I might be able to give the beginning more meaning and consequence. I guess I’m wondering if my writing is too fast paced in general and if my scenes are too rushed.

    I do feel pretty good about a few lines here and there. I’m pretty pleased with some of the drama that’s been playing out, especially when it comes to verbal confrontations between characters. Again though, I’m afraid that my pacing is too quick and diminishes my work.

    I have a lot of things going through my head, so I mostly want my group members to ask me questions about my world so I know what details matter to them. I'm looking for feedback on the concepts just as much as the writing.

  11. 1. Is my main character likeable or is he just too much of a prick to be liked? If the latter, how should I go about making him more believable and likeable?

    2. Is there a distinctive difference between Luther and Jinn's narratives? If not, do you know how I can try to separate them better?

    3. Further on the last question, but what do you think of the use of both first and third person? Unnecessary? Distracting? Or do you think it helps?

    4. How is the pacing? Do I need to crank it up a little or is it progressing at a decent rate?

    5. Is the scenario believable to a certain extent? I haven't written much sci-fi before, so I could be writing it all wrong.

    6. Does my story need more characters? Ultimately, I want the story to focus on Luther's loneliness, but I may need to throw in more characters to make a bigger impact or should I not?

    7. How is Jinn as a character? Is he believable as a fusion of both man and machine? Or does he stand out too much?

    8. Were there any weak areas in the writing? Should Jinn's sections be more straightforward than Luther's?

    9. Does my novel need more subplots?

    I'll have my revisions done by Friday, though I'm slightly slammed by other classes at the moment, but that is my fault entirely. Anyway, I'm quite worried that my narrative sounds too cliched or just too boring. I'm also worried that my use of first and third person just isn't distinct enough. And I'm afraid my main character will come off as somewhat of a prick, which tends to happen when I write characters similar to myself (hmmm...). So, I suppose I'm mainly worried about my characters, there being only two at the moment, and if their interactions between each other feels real or somewhat awkward. I suppose I'm also afraid of subplots: with only two characters and the major emphasis on the two, I haven't left much room or really tried focusing on subplots at all. There are some layers to the story, but I'm also worried that there just isn't enough. I can only hope my feedback is constructive, but I won't feel bad at all if someone points out a sentence, a paragraph, or even the whole novel and say, "this sucks." But as long as there is constructive criticism to back it up, I'm fine.

    I'm at least confident about some of the language, at least in the beginning. I'll have to revise the later portion more heavily, though, because it seemed as the more I wrote the more plain and boring my language became.

    I'm a little nervous to show off my partial, to tell you the truth, but I know I can only get better if given constructive criticism. Often, I feel paranoid when people read something I do and don't tell me what I did wrong, as it makes me feel like they are being too nice. By all means, rip my novel to shreds, if need be!

    -Tyler Trosper

  12. 1. Is there too much internal voice and not enough scene work?
    2. Is there enough happening to keep your interest?
    3. Does Katie seem too cliqued of a character?
    4. Is the opening note from Katie’s daughter necessary?
    5. Does the chronology make sense? Or are the jumps in time too jarring since they’re not flashbacks in the traditional sense?
    6. Is it obvious that all this is being written years after the events happened?
    7. Do the letters make sense within the context of the rest of the story?
    8. Does it feel like a novel, or just someone’s boring diary?
    9. Would it be helpful to have the daughter’s perspective throughout the story or is it better just to have her introduce the novel? And does the introduction seem too wordy?
    I’m really concerned that my novel is starting to become too internalized. I’m trying really hard to use what I learned from reverse storyboarding Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, but I’m worried that there isn’t enough scene work. And then I’m worried that the scenes aren’t vivid enough. I also want to have a decent mix of individual, full memories and brief snippets of memories. I know I have the voice right. But I’m not sure that what Katie’s saying is all that interesting at times. I don’t know if everything is working together in the right way.
    I’m also worried that because it’s written in a diary-style that I don’t have enough story outside the main character’s life. It’s all about Katie’s emotions and experiences, but I know that there need to be subplots, and other characters need to be more well-defined. I’m worried I’m focusing too much on the central story and not enough on other elements.
    Another big issue is question 5. I want the events to be told in increasing amounts of guilt. Katie is trying to come to terms with things that she’s done, culminating in the abortion she had when she was a teenager. But I don’t want to confuse the reader.
    I’m a little worried about the partial. I switched what I was writing at week 4, so I’m not entirely sure how much material I have to work with. I’m hoping that I have enough and I don’t have to use completely new material to make it to 25 pages. I think I have about 7 right now.
    The only thing I’m confident about is my diary-letter structure. I’ve been thinking about writing this novel for a while but I’ve never been able to find the right structure. This finally feels right.
    I don’t mind the idea of sharing a partial while I’m still writing the rest of the novel. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about it. I’m not the most confident person about my writing. I know I’m a good writer, but I still get nervous that everyone is going to hate it and I’m gonna be told that I’m terrible at the one thing I love to do. I know that’s not going to happen, but it’s still always in the back of my mind.

  13. When reading, do you feel like you are in my character's head enough?
    Should she be more developed in certain scenes?
    Does the opening scene grab you?
    Are the characters of the novel relatable?
    Should I establish more backstory?
    Are there enough creative elements in my novel?
    What are some potential themes?
    Does Pandora seem like a real place?
    Do you want Nate to change Amanda or do you want her to remain dominant?
    How would you like to see this novel end?

    I’m looking for feedback that shows the reader feels so swept up in Amanda’s mind that he or she literally feels they have become Amanda. This novel is going to be very controversial and I want to hear all about how the reader feels. How does this book make one feel about the decisions Amanda makes? Do they feel sympathy for her character or do they downright hate her for being such a horrid and yet true person?
    My partial is practically finished. I write novels in order of how I want my scenes displayed in the novel. Therefore when this novel drops the reader into the middle of Amanda’s life, they will learn backstory as they continue to read the partial. My biggest worries are that this story won’t seem like it’s going anywhere within the first 25 pages. It’s not until Amanda becomes pregnant that the novel takes on the ticking clock theme. Until then it seems like she’s just stalking a guy who is different from all the other guys she’s ever hunted.
    I feel confident that this novel idea has never been written or attempted before. I will feel more confident once the entire novel is drafted out. Right now it seems so loose and confusing because all the treads haven’t been matched up, but once I finish the draft, I will only be worried about getting it finalized correctly and then getting it published.
    I’m okay with sharing my partial while I’m still writing the novel. I’d rather get the whole novel finished, and then I’d know exactly how to make the partial standout, but sharing the partial while the rest of the novel is still being written feels alright to me. I think it will be nice to have someone other than my good friends read it because I will get some writer’s advice instead of friendly advice. I need to know what to change, what works and what doesn’t. I need to know what scenes need more creative elements and what scene would be perfect places to drop in backstory, as well as develop my character more in a certain scene. I’m sure there are also plenty of scenes that are unclear because in my mind I already see where and what is happening, whereas a reader might be completely lost. So I would like to clear up any confusing places in the novel and make it as clean cut as possible before I continue on. I want to know what’s working for readers and what’s not.

  14. Chelsea Westbrook

    1. How can I improve my language?
    2. Does the story make sense so far/should there be any scenes to clarify something?
    3. Does the tension get across well on the page?
    4. Is this story believable even though it’s about monsters?
    5. Would another character with a sub plot add to the story?
    6. Did I keep the right tenses throughout the story? (I always have a problem with mixing tenses up)
    7. How do you see the story ending?

    I am hoping for brutally honest feedback. When people pick at my stories it gives me a lot of knowledge about what the reader will be thinking and that helps me a lot of reconsider things and know what questions might come up. I know that I do not write as well as a lot of people, so I am looking to improve my writing in any way possible. I mainly want the reader to believe the story. I know it is a little out there, but I want the reader to believe that this could actually happen somewhere.

    I have proofread my partial and just need to reread it again and then organize it in the proper way. I started from the beginning and have been continuing the story each week, so my weekly words have been the first fiftyish pages. I will probably be done with it all in the next couple of days. My biggest worry is being that person that everyone remembers having a horrible story. I do not want people to see me and think “oh my god, there is that girl that cannot write.” But hopefully that will not happen, because I only write things I would want to read. As far as I know that has not happened in the past, so I do not think that will be a problem now.

    I do not really feel confident about any certain thing or super worried about anything either. I just sort of write what I like too, and if other people like it, then that is great, if not then oh well. I am still going to write my story no matter what people think. I always take in the feedback given to me, but if I am dead set on something in my story then I will keep it the way I want to. I do think that this story is a little different than most stories and explores ideas that have no been thought of (to my knowledge at least) before.

    I feel fine with sharing my partial because it is good to get feedback now in case something comes up and I want to change the story’s outlook. Just in the revision process I changed the premise of my main character, so the more feedback I can get, the better. The novel is no where near done and sometimes I think about changing the entire story in different ways. I think that the feedback I will receive on it will greatly help me decide exactly what I want to do with the novel.

  15. 1. Are my characters developed? Or do they seem surface-level and shallow?
    2. Is my protagonist original and relatable?
    3. Is the inner conflict with June obvious or do I need to address it more directly?
    4. Is there any tension in the piece? Or does it seem flat?
    5. How effective are the placement of the flashbacks? Are they interesting? Do you look forward to reading them?
    6. Is the present day situation remotely interesting? Does it help build tension for the flashbacks?

    The feedback I want the most involves the character development. I have a really clear understanding of my characters, but I'm unsure if I'm translating that to the pages. I have thought extensively about complex aspects of my characters, but just because I have the ideas doesn't mean I'm accurately showing that. My biggest worry is that my protagonist is entirely flat and unlikeable. I feel like she's mediocre, that her voice is boring. I want her to be an every-day kind of girl, but she needs a hook, something that makes her interesting. I don't think she has that. But I also feel like I'm writing in voice I typically write in, so I'm torn about whether she actually is boring or if I'm so accustomed to that voice that it seems dull to me.

    I'm having difficulties with plot, too, and keeping tension (or making any tension). I don't know if readers will find this plot interesting or if it will keep them invested enough to get to the ending to show how important June's young adulthood was.

    My partial is definitely getting there. What I have is decently polished, but I still need to add scenes to make 25-50 cohesive pages rather than random scenes I've written. There is a lot of progress that needs to be made in my two characters' relationship to show its significance, rather than making it seem like this normal romance. I need to show how life-changing it is for June and explain why she has held onto it her entire life. It will also make the ending actually heart wrenching rather than melodramatic. I also feel like with the scenes I've written, I'm making very small steps toward character development but where it is now is almost confusing--like with Mark's character. And Nor is still a little hazy. June's just a mess as I said earlier.

    I'm pretty comfortable sharing my partial while I'm writing it. Since this is such a massive undertaking, I want someone to tell me what I need to change early on before it becomes to overwhelming to change.

  16. 1) Is my story line believable?
    2) How do you feel about the characters? Do they have enough characterization?
    3) Does the story seem drawn out? Is the pacing to slow or too fast?
    4) Do I give too much necessary description or information?
    5) Do you like how I began the first chapter?
    6) Is there anything in my piece that you personally think needs editing?
    7) Does the story line appear to be well thought out so far?
    8) Do I struggle writing back and forth between past and present?

    I am looking for feedback about my writing and the story line in general. I have been forming this story in the back of my mind since high school and now I finally have a chance to begin writing it. Since it was mostly already formulated in my head it has been fairly easy to write. But I want to make sure everything is clear and believable and not over the top.

    I started this story half way through the semester so I am not near 25 pages yet. However, I plan to revise and write like crazy this week. I also feel like I do not need to do much revising in my eyes and that is another reason why I want other people's opinions on my piece.

    My biggest worry is honestly being too much of a perfectionist and spending hours revising and writing more for my piece. I tend to want my writing to be at its absolute best when someone else is going to read it and then I over analyze my work and ruin it. I am going to try to not do that this week. I also worry that my story will sound too cheesy and like just another romance. It may at the beginning sound like that but once the characters really develop together then things will become more original.

    I feel confident about my story line idea and from beginning to end. I know what I want in the story and as long as I can write it to where my readers will understand it and enjoy it then that is all that matters to me. I am also very confident in my characters. I know exactly how I want them to act and who to be. I just have to portray that through my writing so that the reader can see it also.

    I think it will be good to show my partial while I am still in the process of writing. It will be good to make sure I am heading in the right direction. I will also like to hear feedback about the story and the characters before I get too far into the book and have to go back and make changes.

  17. 1. How important is it to break a story apart into chapters?
    2. How long should each chapter be?
    3. How do I make a partial out of random scenes?
    4. What should change about the story?
    5. What should change about the writing?
    6. Should I make things pick up faster from the beginning or does it start strong?
    7. How much should I explain about the past?
    8. How do you explain the past without losing active voice?
    I internalize most of my thoughts in any creative process. Feedback is appreciated at any point but I fore myself to agonize over everything before I can allow others to be critical of whatever I've been working on. I'm looking for very critical feedback, the kind of stuff that you wouldn't say to your closest friend. I'm not worried about feelings and pride, only subjective honesty. Writing in groups hasn't worked well for me in the past. I am critical of myself and I only trust a few people to do the same. My writing process doesn't include a lot of group time. Writing is a solitary activity for me, but it might be a group thing for others. I'd like to have a class that acknowledged the different writing processes that we all have.
    I feel fine about turning in a partial, but I'm confused about what it includes. We polish writing from the beginning of the novel, format it, and email it, but what if the writing that we have doesn't follow a particular order? I have scenes from different areas of the novel that's and now I have an ending, but they're all rough drafts and scattered on a word document. I guess that most of the work on the partial is organizing the unfinished product before sharing it with the groups.
    I can't say that I'm worried about anything. This story has been fun to write and I've enjoyed watching it grow.Sharing this partial is a good way to take a step back from the larger work and check our surroundings. I feel confident in the way that I approached this novel and in the story. I don't feel confident in the writing.

  18. I think the concept of a partial is a good thing. Many things will obviously not make sense without the rest of the content to explain certain things in the novel, but the partial can still be a good insight to where the novel is going and what the story is. I am worried about a few issues in the story I am writing:
    1. Does enough happen? In what I have so far, especially I feel like nothing really happens and there are not enough points of interest in the story.
    2. Does it sound natural in 1st person?
    3. Does it feel like a believable story?
    4. Should I drop the sub plot of the dream sequences the main character encounters and focus on the primary plot line?
    5. Should I start where I've chosen?
    6. How can I develop the characters further than the silhouettes of characters they are so far?
    7. How can I achieve #6 without bogging the reader down with so much background information they are taken out of the story?
    8. Are the scenes detailed enough?/Is there a clear understanding of what is going on?

    In all honesty, I am not pleased with what I have done. I could have attempted a much different novel, and should have. I did not drop the story, however and have been revising like crazy on what I do have to make it some form of an acceptable piece of work. This workshop process actually excites me because I want feedback on what I do have. I am looking for as much of a critical opinion as I can get. Input on what I have done will be greatly appreciated. With the feedback I hope to get some ideas to help me reshape what I have in a more presentable story, as well as gain ideas about what to do to continue the story.
    At this point, I'd say I have around 20 pages of material that's been reworked to the point of being included in the partial. One issue is that there are pieces missing in between. There are a couple different scenes that are missing parts in the middle. I may exclude them to see if there is still enough coherency to what is there. If it feels like something is missing, I'll work in the missing parts, but I feel they're small enough bits that perhaps a couple of summary's may suffice in this situation I also fear I may have underwritten parts...but even worse, I most likely overwrote other sections.

  19. 1. Do you see the protagonist as whiny or do you have sympathy for her?
    2. Where should I develop/remove description?
    3. Is it plausible for a real-world story?
    4. Can you see any themes developing in this portion?
    5. Do you think the story would work better in 1st or 3rd?
    6. Which parts are too slow and which aren’t slow enough?
    7. How is the balance of internal monologue and action?
    8. Are there any senses missing?

    I’m relatively close to being done with my partial since I wrote chronological scenes, for the most part and have met the weekly word limit each week. I’m trying to work on detailing a summary of where I am thus far, where I’m going, and how my partial fits in so that my group can fully understand what is happening since they will be midway through the story.
    I’m most worried about the overall development of my protagonist. I am very aware that she can come off as whiny and annoying rather than sympathetic. I know she will seem more sympathetic in the end, but I am worried that the reader won’t make it that far if she is too whiny. If my group has any ideas about how to convey the protagonist’s so-called sob story while still making her a character you root for, I’m all ears.
    Since I have only been trying to get the story on paper and have yet to focus on language and detail, I would like to know where the reader wants too see more developed description. I know there are readers who like to have a lot of descriptive scenery and others who prefer to limit details, I want to find a good balance and hear what the reader wants developed specifically rather than beating them over the head with unnecessary details.
    I’m not terribly worried about sharing my partial, nor am I terribly confident with it. I’m not so worried because I’ve shared this story several times and even in this type of environment. I think this sort of small group setting of writers in the same process makes it less nerve wracking because everyone is sort of in the same place. What makes me less confident is that I’ve written so much, but it just keeps dragging on. I realize that it will morph into many different phases once I finish a draft and start editing, but for the time being the reader only has the part that is dragging on and I don’t want to bore anyone. Still, I’m somewhat excited about sharing it. As strange as it can be, the best way to make it better is to get feedback from people who are familiar with the craft and not afraid to tell you the truth about it.

  20. 1. Are the struggles my main character goes through evident or should I use more obvious language?
    2. How do you like the language?
    3. In all honesty, do my characters seem cliche?
    4. How do I make my character have a real flaw but still portray her as likable in her situation?
    5. Should I keep the backstory at the front or sprinkle it in throughout the story?

    I'm really hoping for feedback about my language use, because language is something I really mess around with and try to find interesting ways to portray an idea.

    I've been trying to fill in the blanks, because I have been skipping around and writing scenes from the middle to end of the story. I'm trying to figure out my character and she's turning into something a little bit different than I had anticipated. She's kind of writing herself. So I definitely need to work at filling in the holes before I submit my partial.

    I'm worried that I won't have enough action in the story for it to be interesting. I'm worried it will be a bit dull and my whole idea will be overlooked or hard to interpret. I'm hoping that my character will be strong enough and my language will be good enough to keep a reader going.

    I feel good about sharing a partial while still writing because I want to get some feedback and maybe know what I should change before I keep going.

  21. 1. Does the story make sense? If not, what needs to be cleared up

    2. Is each character their own character while you read?

    3. Do you like only knowing that this takes place on the east coast or would you rather just have a name and state to be there?

    4. how do you feel about the main character?

    5. how do you feel about the other characters?

    6. what do you think the story needs?

    7. Is there enough tension to continue going? For example, like the main character receiving the letters and the demon at the school?

    8. Are you picking up on the little tiny hints like Hector and Katie knowing each other?

    9. Enjoy the writing style and how it slightly goes from only Rath's POV to like God's/not close third person?

    I'm looking for honest feedback to really help improve the story and not just "it's good". By doing that I can really improve the story line or toss it out the window. I just really want to know if the readers can understand it and if it has potential to be something good rather than be in my head.

    I'm pretty close to the partial. i just need to keep editing it and filling in things that'll come back later. Luckily I did it in chronological order, so i'm not too worried about really trying to make sure the people know what's going on. the end might throw them since it doesn't have that entire middle chunk.

    Biggest worry: that everyone will hate it and receive no good feedback. Confident: It's original and it's mine.

    Not really sure how i feel about sharing it. i'd rather it be completely finished, but whateves.

  22. Questions:
    1. Is my idea about jumping frequently from a base time narrative to cutaways coherent? Effective?
    2. In regards to my multiple points of view, are they discernable? Is this effective?
    3. I hope to utilize a semi stream of consciousness effect. How do I handle this?
    4. Do I neglect any characters in lieu of seven points of view?
    5. I hope to create a sense of chaos, especially more in the end, by using small scenes that bounce back and forth. Is this effective or too jagged?
    The Rest:
    In my feedback, I’m most interested in hearing about how my form is operating. I believe I have the chops as, at least, a decent writer. But I’m taking quite a leap of faith in my attempt to wrap several nontraditional elements into my story: stream of consciousness, seven points of view, sporadic chronology, etc. I am hoping to get most of my feedback in these areas so as to better hash out any complications seen from the outside. This is my main concentration right now. I feel that once this is effectively worked through, I will be more adequately endowed to focus more on the semantics of the creative writing. I want to know about any hang-ups or concerns. This piece needs to be tight to be effective and I can’t afford to start off on a bad leg. This said, I have to admit, I’m not as close to the partial I had envisioned at the beginning of the semester. I’ve been concentrating heavily on planning and making sure I had at least a semblance of a frame before I began writing. Due to the fact that I still feel shaky, I’m afraid that my partial my reflect this. I am, however, very glad, that I have my entire base time narrative mapped out (the chronology of it helped) and have begun creating more and more cutaway scenes as I think of them. Many of them are very necessary to the story and came naturally. Others are more filler, more entertainment or sheer characterization. I’m always glad when they come to me. It makes me feel like a real novel is being created. I’ve never been to concerned with sharing my pieces for “workshops” or writing groups, but this one makes me a bit anxious. I’ve never taken on a project like a novel and feel that I’m still in the dark about a lot of things. What’s funny is that I know this is exactly what I’m supposed to feel. It is the very nature of writing such a long form piece to not feel wholly ground. Even despite this, I’m anxious to see how my group responds to something I’ve been developing so intricately at the form level, not to say the character, narrative, creative, etc. level. As far as my feelings about still being so entrapped in the process and having to share, I’m actually really very grateful. I think that before I venture too much further, I need to know if my attempts have been fruitful and or they are perhaps damaging. I am, like I said, anxious about the fact that this is by no means my best work and I believe that still being in the process contributes at least slightly to this. By my need to have outside perspective on my risks outweigh this anxiety.

  23. Overall I feel pretty good about showing my work to my group. I know that my first draft might not be the strongest but, no one’s first draft is. It’ll also help to have another set of eye’s to go over a story that I’ve been so engulfed in for the past few months. While I know this isn’t a workshop opportunity, even having another person or two just merely looking through my manuscript will help with the goal of finishing my first novel. For anticipation of this I've prepared a few questions for my group.
    1. Do I need more description?
    This being my first attempt at writing a large-scale novel and I was just wondering if the world felt “real” or not. If I need to amp up the description of the world please feel free to tell me if not I’ll just keep going with the pace.

    2. Are my non-human characters, distinctive?
    I’ve set my story in the distant future and I know several character’s of my main cast aren’t human I was just wondering if I made this apparent. I want each of these different characters to be shaped by their racial backgrounds and experiences that might not be a human-oriented.

    3. Is there a better way to split up one of my flashbacks?
    I know one of my flashbacks with Henro might have been a bit long. I have thought of one way of making this less of a block of text. I think that spreading this sequence out across the narrative then having it tie into what sequences of events that is happening in the present.

    4. Do I need to explain the more about the current state of the galaxy?
    This could go into the line of “Do I need more description” but I have a feeling like this problem needs to be addressed in it’s own right. I know that the galaxy that I’m trying to tell is quite big, and I might be hard to thoroughly describe. I was just wondering how I could shine some light on the galaxy as a whole.

    5. Are there any scientific facts that I’m getting “wrong”?
    Since this my work is science fiction I was just wondering if most of my facts were coming across as accurate. If there’s anything that I’m messing up could you please address it? I know that we aren’t science major’s but if there’s any basic physics or astronomical data that I’m messing up please tell me.

    6. Is it boring?
    This might sound like an odd question but does my manuscript hold your attention? If not is their anyway to spice up my story?

  24. 1. How does the story function as “remembering”? Is this readable or overly sentimental?
    2. Do we “care” about the character? Enough to continue reading?
    3. Sentences- at this level are things to choppy?
    4. Story line- how clear is this? What can I do to make it better for the reader?
    5. Because I’m experimenting with structure I would like to know how it comes off to the reader? Understandable? Too Random?

    In regards to sharing my work, I’m terrified. Fiction has never really been my strong suite (why would I enroll in Advanced Fiction you might ask—to learn!) although I enjoy the process immensely. As I mentioned in my questioning I would like to know how the whole functioning of my structure works. I’m playing with the form of the stories, creating a narrative with recipes and other formats, so I would like to see how this works for people or if it just comes across as “why on earth is this here”. I still feel like I’m barely able to see the carving of the work. Where it might be going (or where has it been)?
    It will be really nice to have other eyes on it, especially the eyes of other writers who are at that stage of creating as well. The content scares me though—how honest have I been to my characters or how dishonest? Am I doing them justice? I feel that has been a major hurdle for me: trying to figure out how intrusive I can go, how far I should take them without it becoming overdone.
    I’m more excited about reading other works. This whole time having only really seen my work and only summarizations of other I’m interested to see how others have adapted things we have talked about in class and how others have shaped their stories. I think this will be a good opportunity to generate support. To understand what is working and what is not working for my story and for others. I have never really felt that I receive much support for my writing so I am looking forward to a supportive eye on my writing and constructive discussions. That being said, I’m still apprehensive but hope that I can take away a firmer position on where my novel needs to go and what (if anything!) is working.

  25. 1. Is it believable?
    2. Should the "traumatic" scene include more emotion or less?
    3. Is it too compressed?
    4. Does the tone and language match the age of the characters?
    5. What are your thoughts on the Point of View(s)?
    6. Any suggestions on how to "slow down" the speed of the story line?

    When it comes to my partial I feel somewhat confident in it. I know that my subject matter might not be of interest to everyone in the world, but I hope that those it does interest with find a great source of entertainment in it. As for how close I am to having a partial, I am working diligently to get farther and farther into the story. I have a lot of sporadic scenes from throughout the novel, but I am also working hard on trying to continue my story from its opening. I have reached about 14-15 pages so far, and am hoping to reach at least 25 pages, if not more, by the time the partial is due on Friday. My partial is definitely coming along though, and I hope that, for the most part, the opening that will be featured in my partial makes the impact on my readers that I was going for. If it doesn’t, well then kudos for small groups and the help they will provide in getting my story where I want it to be in both level and emotional content.

    For the most part, I want feedback from my small group in regards to believability. Due to the fact I have not experienced anything that my subject goes through, I want to be sure that I am making the story believable to those who might have experienced the same situations. My biggest worry about my story is that I am writing it in a compressed format. I know this can easily be changed through revision and expansion, but for me I feel it is easier to just get the story “down on paper” before worrying about expanding and lengthening. Another worry that I have in regards to my story, and not just the partial, is that I feel I am rushing the story along. I have so many ideas in my head for scenes and the ending, but I also don’t know exactly how to get the story from beginning to end without leaving out important scenes. Sometimes I even fear that I am writing too much “filler” scenes and information, and it in turn will drag down the mood of the piece.

    I feel that sharing a partial during the writing process as well as after the writing process can both be beneficial. If it is shared during the writing process then the writer, or myself, has the opportunity to take the group members thoughts and ideas into consideration. If the partial is shared after the writer is finished, it can be somewhat difficult to have to go back and change a lot of things, because one small change in the beginning can cause a ripple of changes throughout the entire novel. So as for which I would prefer at future dates, it would definitely be to share while in progress. It would give me a better sense of how well I’m doing and what steps I need to take to improve the story.

  26. 1. Is the story starting in a good place? Does there need to be more backstory? Less?
    2. Is it hard to keep the characters straight?
    3. Is the opening engaging? Does is remain engaging?
    4. Can you tell where the story is going? What the theme is?
    5. What do you think of the two-storyline structure?
    6. Which characters are sympathetic? Which characters do you dislike?
    7. Are the characters motivated enough? Are they believable?
    8. How do you feel about the setting? Is it realistic? Does it need more explanation? More description? More details?
    9. Does this come off as a fantasy? Or does it sound more like the real world with an element of magic (like Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon)?

    I guess the kind of feedback I’m looking for is just what they liked, what they didn’t like, and what didn’t make sense. I’m trying to write a novel that’s pretty much purely for entertainment (although there is a point to it, a theme), but the main thing I’m looking for is that people understand and enjoy it.

    My partial isn’t ready at all. I mean, I’ve been working on my rough draft pretty much in order, so I’ve got more than 25 pages of rough draft, but I haven’t started revising at all. And it doesn’t help that the beginning doesn’t just need tweaking; I think it needs a complete overhaul. But hopefully it won’t take too long. I’m hoping there are still some good scenes I can take from the first draft. It’s always possible, too, that the first draft needs more restructuring and reorganizing than it needs rewriting.

    I’m not really worried about anything for this draft. I don’t ever really get nervous sharing my work with other people. Plus, I know that this isn’t a final draft, so I’m not worried that everything won’t be perfect.

    On the flip side, there’s nothing I feel particularly confident about. After I started writing, I realized that this novel was never going to be great. There’s enough material here to make a novel-length work, and I think if I work long enough and give it enough overhauls, I might be able to make this into a passable piece of work. But nothing great. This is definitely not my best writing, so there is nothing I feel particularly confident about.

    I feel just fine about sharing my partial while I’m still writing, at least with my classmates. I wouldn’t feel confident enough that the partial was in its final form to share it with total strangers – particularly ones who might have a stake in my future – but I don’t mind it at all for an assignment. I guess what it really comes down to is that I’m really pretty detached from my work. It’s still personal, and I still take pride in it, and I still get my feelings hurt a little when people say bad things about my writing, but I’m not totally emotionally invested in the work.

  27. 1) Can you differentiate between the two Adams well?
    2) What do you think of Will’s behavior? Is it too erratic, or not erratic enough?
    3) What do you think of James’ attitude? Is he too accepting of his fate, or does that fit well with his “leap of faith” type of personality described early on?
    4) Is it clear that each character has their own little secrets and conspiracies?
    5) Is James dynamic enough of a character?
    6) What are your opinions on the angel Mel?
    7) Is it clear why the other angels hate Mel, or do I need to explain that more?
    8) What did you think of the first scene in the Preface?
    9) Does it create intrigue?
    10) Is there a sense of urgency with the Apocalypse aspect of the story?

    I am looking for any kind of constructive criticism when it comes to the overall story, and aspects mentioned in the questions above. I am not looking for feedback on grammar (unless it’s something HUGE, like sentence variation, or lack there of) or spelling. This will not be my last pass over the pages, plus working on Word for the Mac helps me locate any possible spelling errors (one thing that I do want to point out is that Uriel always pops up as being misspelled, but it’s not. Word just won’t recognize it as a word or name). As of right now, I have about half of the partial ready for my group, but I don’t feel like it will be a huge problem to finish it.

    The biggest thing I am worrying about right now is the story not coming off the way I thought it would. Some people, when hearing what my story is about automatically say things like, “Oh, it’s like this-an-this show/movie.” I don’t want people to think that it was inspired by a movie or show, because it wasn’t. It was just an idea floating around inside of my head that was actually inspired by a song from the band Breaking Benjamin. I decided to work on this story this semester, because it was the one I was the most excited to begin at the time. I feel most confident about my preface. I believe I have created a good hook and mystery in it, and I hope that it translate through to the readers of the partial.

    As a general rule of thumb, I don’t typically share things that I am in the process of writing, except with a few select people. People I went to school with didn’t have the best attitudes toward my desire to write, and as a result I don’t tend to trust anyone with my writing. A professor is one thing – something I have become comfortable with - but students I’ve never met, never spoken to, and couldn’t pick out of a line-up is a totally different matter – something I am very uncomfortable with. If given the choice, I wouldn’t be sharing a partial with people I don’t know.

  28. Are the distinctions between the characters clear in the beginning? (Especially the three main guys)
    Is the setting well enough defined? (Shop layout, town location, etc. Does the layout of the town make sense?)
    What works? (Is the language strong enough on the sentence level?)
    What really does not work? (Is it too simple? Does anything feel too unnatural or contrived?)
    Does it make sense? (Is everything clear? Is it interesting?)

    I do not really know what kind of feedback I am really looking for from this. I have a group of writers that I work closely with who have seen all the raw material for my novel, and I know their opinions on it and the criticism they have given. Without knowing the genre of this, I am hesitant to submit my partial to people I do not know well who may or may not appreciate it. I also know what I want to do with this; thus, even though I know I need to revise and refine what I have written, I do not want too much input into what needs to still be done in my novel.
    I have about 45 pages of the beginning polished, but something feels off with them; thus I am still working on the partial. If absolutely necessary, I could submit it today; however, I need to work on the minor details of revising what I have still. The beginning feels really unnatural still because I forced myself to write it for the partial, so that needs to be revised as well. The middle of the novel makes much more sense than the beginning, but it has also been interesting patching the pieces of scenes written out of chronological order into a coherent story form. Working on the partial made me realize what format I am going to use overall in my novel; putting everything together made the scenes into one coherent story rather than linked short stories as I had originally intended.
    I always have fears when new people read anything that I have written. Workshopping in previous classes I used to describe as throwing a most precious child to a den of wolves: it might turn out fine, but it might get ripped to pieces entirely. I have a similar fear of small group feedback of my partial. I know I have room to improve; I am just afraid no one will appreciate what I have written. I do not want to be told that I have to change everything, or even most of it.
    By sharing the partial while I am still in the process of writing the novel is very uncomfortable for me. It’s very changeable still, and I do not know if the beginning that I use in the partial will even stay in the novel. I also feel that I can hide behind the defense of saying “Oh, that. I’ll change that; it is not finished yet,” instead of taking pride in what I am writing, if I feel that my work is being rejected.

  29. 1.) How should I make the dialogue more conversational?
    2.) Should I consider more characters to give the book more sides to work with?
    3.) Is there any lack of consistency in the work?
    4.) What parts of the plot work do you like / dislike?
    5.) Are either of my two main characters worth following around?
    6.) How should I make outside characters more villainous?
    7.) What can I do to make the book a more enjoyable read?
    8.) What work can I do to make more tension apparent?

    Essentially it looks like I just need to learn more about integrating more depth and layers to these characters I'm working on. I want to make these characters worth following without making them too likable if that makes sense. They should still be human in the idea that they are not entirely perfect and are forced to make some questionable decisions.

    When I'm done with the revisions, I will likely have closer to 50 pages for the partial. This will all be starting from the beginning, so the reader will be able to get a feel for the work I'm doing without being too lost at starting in the middle.

    I'm not really worried about how they will take what I'm working on, as I hope my group isn't worried about me reading through theirs. I figure this is all constructive, and if kept that way, will be too beneficial to my work to want any sort of worry to influence what I give them. I don't mind reading their original work, which gives me the unfair assumption that they won't mind reading mine. And if our works are similar enough we should have a pretty decent time with it and be able to give one another a lot of really usable pointers to steer one another in a positive direction.