Category Archives: Writing Group

Better to give than receive?

What is the hardest thing about writing? Coming up with an idea? Turning an idea into a coherent whole. Knowing what to keep and what to ditch? Nope, as tricky as all of those can be, compared to the task of getting an honest opinion of your work from someone, they’re mere child’s play. I’ve heard it said that friends are kind and family is generous yet a writer needs feedback. The reason I’m making this entry is in regards this post which concerns how NOT to give constructive criticism.

Personally I’m of the opinion that it is actually pretty tricky to write something with absolutely no redeeming features. Sure I’ve come across work with good ideas badly executed or that is well written but based on weak ideas. But something that is irretrievably rubbish, that’s hard to do.

So what are my tips for giving useful advice?

1) Find the bad and the good, at least one example of each.

2) Start with the bad. Yes I know every writer wants to hear their work is great but really if any of us are to grow then it is our weakness that need work. If there are a lot of weaknesses, better to focus on one, Rome wasn’t built in a day and no one became a great writer overnight.  If a particular aspect is good, well great then we don’t have to worry about that.

3) End with the good. Constructive Criticism is meant to be just that Constructive, you’ve broken them down looking at the bad, now you build them back up.

But what about the writer any advice there.

In a nutshell: Take it.

If people learn that the first word of criticism results in them either attempting to pry your teeth from their throat or you bursting in to tears, then you’ll never get an honest opinion again. Which will come back to haunt you because if or when your work gets out into the world, criticism it will receive and not all of it will be fair.

Until next time.

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Filed under Random Rants, Writing, Writing Group

Short Story – Gorilla in the City

For the past few months I’ve been going to a writers group and I have decided to start putting up the results. This one is referring to somethings that are going on in Ireland at the moment.

 

Gorilla in the City

 
Officially it is now autumn. Back when I was a kid and people were still arguing whether global warming was a real thing, that actually used to mean something. The summer holidays were over, the schools had started back and each day, nightfall came a little sooner. Now the months we used to call autumn are really the summer, by which I mean a heat you can actually enjoy. What was the summer, most people now call The Hot. For six months the whole countryside just burns up and you’d be hard pressed to understand how this island was ever called the Emerald Isle.

 
The wife didn’t want to move to Big Smoke, didn’t want it so strongly she became the ex-wife. But I was tired, tired of breaking my back trying to plant and get in crops on either side of The Hot and failing at least one year in three. Thought I’d find opportunities, found politics instead.

 
Saw the party members in their big cars where everyone else walked. Saw their big houses with watered lawns when other struggled to find enough to drink and I wondered how did it go so wrong? How did we hand so much to so few for so little? Some say it started with the abolition of the Seanad. Others that when The Hot began people panicked and looked to those who claimed to have easy answers. Me I think it was an almost inevitable consequence of a culture that saw crooks and chancers as heroes instead of a cancer.

 
Well we’re going to change that. Or least I hope we are; maybe I’m too old and cynical to be a real rebel. It’s going to be bloody work; there are good girls and lads who are going to die because they don’t know they’re on the wrong side or even that there are sides. I’m going help to bring fire and blood to the streets but for a few more days, I’m going to enjoy autumn in the city.

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Filed under Ireland, Short Stories, Writing, Writing Group