Aramis Gothboi – Progress Journal: On the virtues of a writer’s group

Progress Journal for Aramis Gothboi: Book One

Mog’s ongoing account of completing the first draft.

Total word count: 18,243

~

Eleventh Post:


Them: “Hey Mog, what’s your book about? Go!”

Me: “Ummm…” *awkward silence*
It’s been a while since I’ve had to pitch this story. When the subject comes up in conversation, I usually take the easier path and give a brief overview of the greater arc, which doesn’t have a lot to do with this particular book, but is a satisfying answer to anyone who’s not going to read it anyway.

I joined a writers group the other week and it seems to be going well so far. We’re quite the ragtag bunch of ne’er-do-wells, but prior to the initial Zoom meeting where this pretty obvious question about my book was asked, I’d never met any of these people before. Good first impressions? Forget about it. Good news is they were extremely forgiving, and after hearing a little about the books they are each working on, I’m quietly excited at the prospect of getting to know them and their stories.

So, after that failure of an introduction to my work, the first thing I did after the meeting was get to work on the old blurb – yep, that’s a real word and it’s what we call the bit on the back of the book that tells you about the pages within. It’s the trailer, the ad, le hors d’oeuvre. Anyway, I dashed the thing out and shared it among my fellow writers. Let me tell you, if this is a taste of what’s to come in terms of peer engagement with my work, this is going to be a most enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

As mentioned previously, I had already started sharing my work with others in a kind of beta-testing capacity, just to help me get some perspective on where I’m at. That’s been good, but the depth of feedback I’ve got so far with the writing group has been jaw-dropping. It’s a whole other ballgame, and might I remind you, that’s just for a 250 word description!

So I’ve submitted the prologue (yes, that insistent thing) for it to be read and critiqued by the team over the next two weeks, after which we will catch up online once again to talk about it. It’s not all about me though (well, it is… but you know), I’ll be returning the favour for one writer this week by reading and critiquing their own piece – with the others in the group to follow in the coming weeks.

What I’ve just done is describe the process of a writer’s group.

“Why?” you say. “I’m a writer. I’ve got the 10-4 on this one.”
“The 10-4?” I ask. “Are you sure you’re using that right?”
“Whatevs,” you say. “I understand how a writer’s group works.”

…which is good. It’s good that you know things. I know things too, but then I also spent a lot of time without a writer’s group and I thought maybe I could get by without one. If by some freak of nature, you’re an exceptional writer that can self-edit effectively then maybe the idea of getting another person’s opinion on your half-baked work might seem pointless.

“Of course they’re pointing out all the flaws! It ain’t finished yet! Leave me be with what little shred of dignity I have remaining. You monsters!”

But… if you’re just a little bit rubbish like me, and you just start writing and writing, and you know it sucks, but can’t quite pinpoint why, then having someone on your team to nudge you in the right direction can only be a good thing.

So that’s a positive for writers groups. Want to be a better writer? Find some like-minded peeps and they’ll help you be better.

Speaking of writing, work this week has been focused almost entirely on cleaning up the chapter I mentioned last week with the action and the physical comedy and whatnot. There’s still a little work to do, but it’s close enough now that I’m now able to put it aside and move onto the next …and I’m stumbling once again on the same problems. This is the exact reason I gravitated to writing scripts in the first place. A little scene direction in big print between the dialogue is all you need to create a scene that can be interpreted by the actor, and after that it doesn’t matter. With these chapters I have scene directions for my characters that would be so very easy to act out on the screen, but once I have to weave descriptions of those actions flawlessly with the ongoing dialogue, it gets a little tricky to balance the two. Oh well, I made myself this bed – can’t complain too much.

Before I forget, this week’s bonus content is simply the one early sketch of Noodel. He’s one of the Worm Boys and is developing into quite the character as these chapters unfold. It’s finally his time to shine as he tries his best to navigate new friendships and other terrifying unknowns. This early sketch is not too far removed from the final version of him that was going to be used in the comic book. Today, he still looks very much like this in my mind (but he is pictured here without his trusty satchel that holds his sketch journal and pencils that he never goes everywhere without).

noodel-test01
Noodel Test01 (2012)

With under 2,000 words before I hit 20K, let’s see if we can get there this week.

 

Till next time.

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