Next Thursday afternoon, the members of my writers’ club critique group will meet to discuss one anothers’ submissions for the month. We meet each month to seek advice about and reactions to something we’ve written. I would prefer a much more frequent meeting schedule, but have to be satisfied with once a month; it’s better than no meetings at all.
The parameters for each submission are flexible, but the idea is to submit something rather short; with an average of five or six in attendance, asking members to read very long submissions, and then comment on them, is a bit much. That having been said, I am asking for more this month.
I submitted two pieces; one of them may become a chapter in a thriller, set to begin thirty years hence. It is about the social and political and technological impacts of the sudden (to politicians) realization that a maximum of ten years remains on the availability of extractable petroleum reserves. That’s the piece for which I’m asking for critique.
The other piece is the first or second chapter of a novel which explores the complex lives of several characters over the course of many years. I’m seeking not a critique, so much, but a response to the approach I’ve taken to introduce the characters…primarily whether what I’ve written possesses enough of a hook to get readers’ attention. It holds plenty of interest for me, but I know more about who the characters will be and how they will become entwined with one another than the reader does, at this point.
I’m asking too much of the group; in my request for response to the second piece, I acknowledge that they may not have time to give me their reaction and, if not, to ignore it. But just putting it in front of them puts a bit of pressure on them; I now wish I hadn’t done it…but the deed is done. If I had a clearer idea of where I plan to take each of the pieces I write, I would not feel like I’m imposing on them unnecessarily; but I am writing several pieces at once and some of them may turn into nothing…maybe all of them will. Focus. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I need to focus.
One thing at a time.