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So many questions!

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Hi everyone.

I've been a SCBWI member since end of last year, but I have so many question still and am unsure which way to turn.

I wrote a story (around 12,000 words) about 6 months ago, but it clearly needed work. Someone was kind enough to read through a few chapters and made some suggestions, but I felt like I didn't believe in the story (it's a kid's sci fi adventure).

So I started again, but this time I am finding it much harder to ensure I am getting the characters right and that I'm following the story correctly. I have so many questions about whether the plot line works and whether my characters are authentic. I've spent hours and hours researching into MG books in the same genre. I don't know whether to write something more similar to those already published or whether to be completely different. It's hard to get this balance right.

I am so confused and have considered spending money on some sort of mentor. I tried finding an ecritique group, but there are none accepting new members in the MG category. I feel like I should be giving this up!
#1 - August 09, 2018, 09:35 AM

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Just a suggestion, but why don't you ask a middle grade student to read your work?  See what s/he thinks of it.  Kids can often be brutally honest.  Look for a student who's a big reader, because that student will have lots of books to compare your story to.
#2 - August 09, 2018, 11:13 AM

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Thank you for the suggestion. I have a daughter of that age and although she has read most of the story, she can't put into words what improvements to make. She will say she really likes it (probably wanting to please me), but when I ask her questions about what she has read, it appears she hasn't fully understood it.
#3 - August 09, 2018, 11:16 AM

Hi Birdgirl,

Don’t give up. The fact that you are writing and revising your work shows you are committed to being a writer.

At the SCBWI conference last week, one of the things that was repeated often was that YOU have a story to tell and the world needs YOUR story. The story only YOU can write. Is there a chance that you studied other books so much that you are having a hard time seeing what your story is? 

I know you mentioned that you are finding it hard to get the characters and the story right. Maybe what you thought was the correct story isn’t the direction your characters need you to take them. Maybe ask yourself “what if” I made a change here or there, what would happen?
 
Every book, every story you write will be a learning experience. I don’t think it necessarily gets easier.

What will happen over time, though, is you will learn to trust yourself. You will have small moments of writing time when your heartbeat quickens and you simply can’t type fast enough to get it all on the page because you have something magical. It may be simply a line of dialogue, a setting description or, if you’re super lucky, a whole chapter. I personally try to remember that feeling whenever I’m ready to toss my story in the delete bin.

Good luck and keep writing!
Faygie
#4 - August 09, 2018, 11:18 AM

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birdgirl,
That's great that you already got your daughter to read your story.  If she hasn't understood your story, though, that's a problem.  Perhaps, too, I am fortunate that I have a son who is not a pleaser.  He'll tell me right away, "This is boring!" if he doesn't think my work is any good.  I think the first step might be to gauge whether your story is even interesting to the reader.
#5 - August 09, 2018, 11:44 AM

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A great way to grow in this writing journey is to share work with others. Do you have a critique partner? You can try for someone local, by posting a message at your library but you can also have online partners. You can ask in the private SCBWI group to swap: https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?board=127.0 
You can even post an excerpt here: https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?board=121.0

I also recommend reading some good craft books: https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=73158.msg1044178#msg1044178

Finally, don't give up!
#6 - August 09, 2018, 01:09 PM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

One of the first suggestions you'll get, particularly here, is that you join a critique group and it is a critique, because as writers, we've all been through the "Is this even worthy of reading? Should I continue?". Also, kids are great, but you sometimes need an outside opinion, with a bit more info!
You are a writer, so write and don't think about it too much. It's very hard to just sit there and continue to the end, without keeping your little finger on the delete key (or if you're old school like me, the pen scrawling the paper). Write it, finish it, leave it. Then relax and return. And read it again. If you find yourself thinking the same again, give it someone else. Perhaps not your daughter, though. She doesn't have an impartial opinion.
Good luck!
#7 - August 10, 2018, 01:38 AM

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