My writer’s critique group didn’t go so well for me. Essentially, I was told that the situation I used to get my kids to a point where I could give them their powers was too contrived and it didn’t make any sense.
I can’t honestly say I disagree.
First, some of those kids shouldn’t have been sent to that summer camp. One of them was supposed to be a borderline sociopath, and I was told that no respectable therapist would have put someone like that into a social situation. Another one was supposed to have been sent there because she was caught fooling around with a boy one too many times. Again, her parents would not have sent her to a co-ed camp if that was the case.
Second, the kids are behaving in ways beyond their years. Maybe it’s because I am an OLD MAN, and have lost touch with the way kids talk and behave nowadays. Or maybe, this story would just be better if it was aimed at a slightly older market. I had initially thought they would be in their early teens, but they are getting into sexual situations which (at least in my mind) would be more appropriate for an older audience. I have felt for some time that I was struggling with keeping this at an age-appropriate level, and she confirmed my diagnosis.
Finally, in order to get them to the cabin where they got their powers, I had them go on a backpacking hike. It was just the four kids and one counselor, and they were supposed to take shelter in what they thought was a deserted cabin when a storm blew in out of nowhere. As my friend pointed out to me, a real counselor would have a) checked the weather before leaving; b) had a cell phone or radio in case of emergency; c) had supplies in the pack that would be useful if a problem came up; and d) would never have left a mixed group of kids alone in a cabin while she went for help.
Strike three. You’re OUT!
If you follow me on Facebook, you can tell that I’m not really happy with this news. I understand what she told me, and I agree that it was sloppy writing. But this means that everything I have done so far will need to be redone. And I’m not sure I’m ready to do that.
I do have some (hopefully) good ideas on how I might be able to fix this, but I also have a commitment to finishing this story by the end of September. If I start over I don’t think I’ll be able to do that. Besides, I have been living with these kids in my head for the last seven weeks and I would kind of like to see how this story goes, even if it is poorly written.
So I think I’m going to just keep plugging away while I let some of the ideas for a new beginning percolate in my head. I have known for a while that I was going to have a lot of editing to do before this thing is ready to publish, so nothing has changed. I’ll probably jot down some notes before I forget my new ideas, but I won’t attempt to start the rewrite until I finish the ending.
I think another thing that I’ll be doing is going through each scene and figure out how each of them advances the story. I haven’t had any formal writing courses since high school (25 years ago) so I’m a bit of a klutz when it comes to plotting, but I would like to make sure that this piece is as finely crafted as I can manage. I probably should have spent more time on the outline, but at that point I really didn’t have any idea who these people were and there was no way I could do that kind of in-depth planning.
The story is moving along. The kids have all discovered their powers and are trying to move forward to catch the killer. It won’t be long now before they discover that they weren’t really ready, and things will fall apart again. But they’ll come back from their failure and win in the end. That is what’s supposed to happen, right?
Come back Wednesday for another thrilling episode of Author In Progress. See you then!