UPDATE: Did it work, my critique group lesson from 3/18?
I sent this message to Christy Allen, “With book reports, did our class critique make any difference in scores/attitudes/anything? Or on other work? If it didn’t, it helps me to know” so I can make changes.”
Christy answered, “Yes, it sure did. All kids corrected their mistakes and made 100% on project!! Thank you again!!! I sure wish I had the love for writing like you do!! You inspire me 😊”
Her answer melted my heart! Plus, her students asked Mrs. Christy for a third visit. I got it later that night. I love return engagements! They make me miss kids and teachers. But I love hearing I made a difference, for these kids, on this one project.
Now a month later I’m wondering if my visit is still making a difference. It would be hard to do, but worthwhile. It’s easy to correct mistakes when they’re pointed out, like in our class critiques. But it’s harder later when you’re alone, with no help, taking a test. I hope my visit helped Mrs. Christy’s 3rd graders edit those tests and achieve better results. That would be HUGE! Her kids are in the middle of T-CAPS, Tennessee’s achievement testing. Good luck, Valley View Third Graders!!!
Long term, starting with a class critique visit next fall, then using/editing this technique all year could reap big benefits. If you’re interested in trying a critique visit either this year or next, please contact me. The price is right!
Critique groups and partners help professional writers grow. I think my kid version could help you. I’ll model several ways to edit. Then your students can see and hear the difference between an earlier draft and a later one. It could equal real results, for you and for your students.
Lesson learned: When traveling, write a list and check it twice. It will save you from grief!
I didn’t…Saturday I packed for the lake and my critique group. I bagged my last-minute stuff Easter morning. I thought I had everything. I did my usual walk-through to double check. I was so sure…
WRONG! When you think you have everything, check again. S-l-o-w down. Look c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y. A-s-k yourself what you need. During Easter service, I remembered my pills and a jacket. I picked them up on my way down, positive I had everything.
WRONG AGAIN! I arrived at the lake and discovered something missing…my computer cord. Without it I can’t recharge. I can’t write. I can’t read emails or Facebook. I can’t surf the web. I need my computer! Without it…life is awful! REALLY!
But, conservation is a wonderful thing. I arrived Sunday night with 88% left on my battery. On Sunday and Monday I stayed off the computer, except to check email. I only checked it twice a day, not hourly, like when I’m bored or need a writing break. No surfing. No writing. Nothing! URGH! I also decided to go home Wednesday instead of Thursday. I REALLY need my computer!
Tuesday I let myself write…finally. I was so happy. Would you believe I get cranky when I can’t write! I channeled it into this post. Hopefully it has an extra edge, a little more voice! When I finished writing and editing 3 posts, I had 9% battery charge left. So glad I conserved power! And even gladder…recharging’s a day away!
My Reads is about lessons learned. Here are Beach’s Best lessons:
1. Write a travel list of things to pack. Check it twice when coming and going. Fingers crossed…you’ll never leave anything behind!
2. Keep your list in the suitcase for your next trip. Keep your most important stuff together so you can grab them at a moment’s notice. You’ll be a real Minuteman!
3. And, the most important lesson, when something bad happens, and it will, look for the opportunity. It’s there, but you have to look for it. It’s like getting lemons (YUCK!) and making them into lemonade (YUM!). Forgetting my cord gave me something to write about, plus a packing/traveling list.
PS- Writing lists isn’t just for grown-ups. Years ago, one of my kids left their cleats behind. It was an away soccer game. OH NO! I stayed. My husband flew home for the shoes, literally.
PPS- Beach’s Best tip this week…write a list and check it twice. It works for Santa! Forgetting is easy. Remembering takes planning!
How do you become a better writer? Maybe good enough to get a book published?
#2- Get a writing teacher
#3- Find critique partners
#4- Don’t give up!
I’m lucky…this book hits #1 and #2. It’s an editing teacher. I got it at a January retreat. I hate writing books, but I love this one! Michelle Houts unlocked its secrets, and I left her workshop with a list of 5 things, from the book, to edit in/out of my manuscript.
My first draft, preworkshop, was over 1500 words, way too long. The goal for fiction is 500 words. Nonfiction can have more. My story is realistic fiction so I can go over 500, but less is always better. By reading, rereading, adding, cutting…I chopped my pre-retreat draft down to 1053. I cut out 500 words. That’s a whole picture book! Using my own editing skills!
Next I finished 4½ of the 5 things from my retreat list on the second draft, post-workshop. Using Anne’s book, I cut the word count to 849. That’s another 200 words, and it was so easy! Hooray for editing! And hooray for my teachers, Ann and Michelle!
Am I done? No way! Time for #3! Last week I got a review back from a critique partner. It helped me prep my newest draft. I sent it off to my Sevierville critique group today. Next week they’ll offer advice/suggestions. I’ll decide what to fix, and how to fix it. I’ll polish the words once more. Then it’s off to Michelle for another critique. It’s the best part of her January retreat…learning how to improve my editing skills, then having time to make my changes. It’s almost ready. Hooray!
But that’s still not enough, not if I want an agent/publisher. My friend Laurie Lazarro Knowleton will read it, again. Then and only then, after all those critiques and endless edits, will my story be polished enough to send to an agent. I get 1 shot. That’s it! It’s yes or no. If you’re lucky, you get a maybe. That means the agent saw potential and wants a rewrite. And yes, more editing! I’ve never gotten that far! Maybe this time!
No matter what happens, I love editing, pushing a story to be its best. Here’s to #4, to persistence and to the adventure of writing stories! Fingers crossed!
This week I’m editing from a new angle, from my back yard. The first picture is from last winter. When we moved in, our trees were so thick it looked like a national park house instead of a lake house. Would you believe we have so many trees that in the spring and summer, you can’t see the lake for the forest in between?
The second picture is from a couple weeks ago. Over time my husband cut down lots of small trees from the front and backyard. A professional just cut down 6 huge trees. I hated to see them go, but they were too close to houses, or had roots in the septic system, or simply blocked the view. Can you see the difference? I hope “editing” over 50 trees will tame the forest so we can see the lake and the trees. Editing/cutting is an excellent thing!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!