Creativity unleashed by Sandra Yuen MacKay

Life and art from a unique perspective


Chocolate Days

Posted by symackay on October 29, 2009 at 10:34 PM

So this year, I wrote a novel in three months titled, "Chocolate Days." I needed to get some perspective so I consulted a relative who is an avid reader to comment on it. She not only gave me feedback on the story but also looked for grammar and punctuation errors. 

To hire a freelance editor can be very expensive depending on what type of editing you want. If you want the editor to check for accuracy in content, it could be especially costly. Some freelance editors charge per page or by the hour. Instead I opted for someone I trust to read over my manuscript for the first time.

I hoped to get some constructive criticism. This relative took over a month to review my story but it was worth the wait. She brought some things into light that I hadn't developed. She emphasized the important of descriptive writing. For example, not writing "he looked angry," but instead, "he glared, not speaking but with daggers in his eyes."

I asked her to see if my characters acted with consistency. When do consistent characters become cardboard cutouts? When are inconsistent characters regarded as complex or multi-dimensional personalities? I think characters are born with certain tendencies, but if over time they face dilemmas with varying outcomes, they can change for the better or worse.

One of the weaknesses in my story was I didn't always explain or show why characters changed their behaviour or altered their responses resulting in decisions that affected their lives permanently. Their behaviour made sense to me, but not to the reader. My relative said that when reading my story, the reader had to piece together why the characters make various choices, rather than the author showing motivations and reasons behind their decision-making and behaviour changes.

I decided to make my main character's emotions and thoughts emerge more to make her more interesting and dynamic so the reader would want to know about her. Also, I need to make sure each passage only has one point of view. Also I need to reexamine how I stereotype one of the characters and explore his thinking too.

So I quickly realized, reworking the story wouldn't be a quick fix, but I received a lot of good pointers of ways to improve "Chocolate Days."

So a big thank you to that person who assessed my story!

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