Sunday, December 11, 2011

Outside My Comfort Zone

I am in the midst of a revision to my YA Contemporary.  My attempt to soften my MC has gone horribly awry, and I have accidentally transformed her from a cruel bitch into a whiny sod.  It's easily fixable and can probably be accomplished with a few well-placed scene adjustments.  Problem is, I can't quite pinpoint those scenes.  I will, once I get some space from the piece.  In attempt to do just that, I picked up a beta read this weekend, a quick critique of a novella for a long-standing writing friend of mine.  Now beta reading to clear my mind is nothing new for me, nor is it outside my comfort zone.

Critiquing decidedly adult content, however, is.

What did I gain from doing this?  Well, I've come to the understanding that there is a marked distinction between what some people consider adult romance and erotica.  Hands done, this women is an extremely talented writer with a rather impressive list of publishing credentials, but when you take out the sex scenes, and you actually have plot . .  . a well thought out, emotionally-driven plot with extensive threads. In well-written adult romance, the sex is used as a tool to enhance the connections between the characters as opposed to being the central theme of the book.

I learned that it is possible to create a fully-engaging, well-constructed story in under one-hundred pages. I couldn't do it.  Don't get me wrong, I can edit the hell out of my own manuscripts, but ask me to tell any one of my characters stories in under 100 pages and I probably hurl something at you.  There is not enough coffee in the world for me to even consider giving that kind of condensing a try.

Oh, and I learned at least thirty new ways to describe the male anatomy.  What's that?  You want me to share my new found vocabulary?  Yeah . . . well . . .no.

How about you?  Do you ever step outside your comfort zone when writing to critiquing?  If not you should try; I guarantee it will make you a stronger, more balanced writer.





12 comments:

  1. What a great post! I wonder sometimes if I can be as useful if I'm beta-reading a genre I don't write or read. I suppose, however, that it forces you to focus on story structure and prose, things that go beyond genre!

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  2. I haven't done much critiquing yet, but I'd be happy to read any genre as I read most genres anyway.

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  3. I've just started critiquing out of my comfort zone. It's fun.

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  4. Lol! Yeah, I need to critique outside my comfort zone. I think you'll be better for it.

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  5. Remember the day I called you because I didn't know the difference between romance and erotica? This was a great explanation!

    And yes, I do crit out of mu comfort zone. Mostly MG, but I have done a couple historical fiction that have been great!

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  6. Hehe...no comment. But if you're going to use phrases like "comfort zone" in the same post that you discuss critiquing erotica. . . you're leaving me with way to many funny responses.

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  7. I've done a few crits outside my comfort zone recently, and you're right. Sometimes it helps me as much--if not more--than the ones I'm reading for!

    Thirty new ways to describe the male anatomy? *whistles* Sounds like you received quite the education this weekend. ;)

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  8. Yup, one of my fav CPs is a MG writer and I learn lots every time I read one her manuscripts. :)

    Don't hurl anything!

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  9. Carrie -- Oh yes, an education it was. made my husband sit through them all as I rattled them off. He was not amused to say the least :) And tossed Lindsay a few too, just to hear go speechless.

    Becky -- some of my favorite and odd conversations have involved you. I remember the distinction I gave you back them. I believe it included using the find button and a specific four letter word.

    Lindsay-- so unlike you to eave a comment like that floating in the air esp. when something like "Comfort zone" is so ripe for the picking :)

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  10. I think it is a good idea to critique out side your comfort zone. It's a great way to get your creative juices flowing.

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  11. You have me completely intrigued about this novella! And me neither - cannot even fathom writing something that's less than 300 pages.

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