I was fortunate enough to take a few of the middle pages of chapter two to a creative writing group at the local Public Library last week. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous since this was the first time "strangers" would be reading any parts of Blood Rivalry. Thankfully a family member, who happens to be a writer as well, agreed to go with me.
We walked into the room of about 12 other people and were instantly intrigued. The groups was an eclectic mix of age and writing styles. I was very excited about the possibility of getting some great constructive criticism from some experienced writers. Then, we found out that our pieces would be read aloud so that we (the authors) could hear what they sounded like. That completely freaked me out. I can't really tell you why, it was just not something I expected I guess.
The first volunteer's writing was a short newspaper like article about an older couple's disagreement about the amount of collectibles in their home. It was very cute and well suited for its audience. There were a multitude of other writings that we covered in the 2 hour workshop from bathroom themed poems, to a pirate adventure story. I looked up at the clock realizing that we were about to finish and I hadn't offered up my piece for critique yet.
The group facilitator said that we had time for one more piece and I jumped. "I'll go," I said as I handed out my pages. My stomach was in knots, but I knew that it was now or never. I had to take this leap of faith. When the reader read the pages out loud I was pleased with the way they sounded.
The reaction from the group was positive as well. I got a lot of good edits including a few pronoun and tense fixes that I missed when I read it myself. I'm beginning to see that that is going to be the hardest part for me. Content consistency isn't a problem so far (I have the whole story outlined in my head and to some extent on paper) but punctuation for dialogue and tense shifts are tricky. I think that's because it's my first draft and I"m trying just to get all my words out. That should be easier to deal with in later drafts I imagine.
I also came to a good conclusion at this first workshop. I have written 5 chapters and haven't used the word "vampire". It's now a personal goal to keep it out of the book. I'm not sure why it's so important to me. I guess it's that I figure I tell the story well enough that I don't need to be explicit. When I put that thought to the group I was answered with, "Well, when you get this book published you won't have to use the word vampire because the cover art will show that for you." Oh my God, he said WHEN I get this book published. I just about died! That one comment made my year.