but completely different!”

That was the verdict from one of the toughest critics I’ll ever face,  one of my daughters! She was talking about the sequel to Wanting Mor.

All three of my daughters, having grown up with me in the book writing business, can see right through it and are extremely hard to please, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Oh it’s so exciting!

When I finished the revisions this time around I was tempted to not even give it to anyone to critique, to just send it right out to my publishers. But that’s never a good idea.

It’s always a good idea to let a manuscript sit, just like you’d let a roast beef ‘rest’ after you’ve taken it out of the oven, before you try to slice it. Then it has a chance to firm up and it’s easier to handle.

Stories are kind of the same.

And even as people have been reading it for me, I’ve gotten ideas to improve and tweak little bits of it.

I think any sequel should complete the story, and that’s definitely true of this one!

Now that I look back on it, Wanting Mor seems, incomplete, without this sequel.

I still need to hear from another friend regarding what she thinks of it before I send it out but on the whole, I’m feeling very very good!

It helps that today I had a very interesting time at my screenwriting course.

The course instructor has been very helpful with that other novel/story idea that I’d been working on for so long which has been rejected by practically everyone.

I had ideas of turning it into a screenplay and I rewrote the treatment with his critique in mind. It’s still pretty rough, I think, but it’s better than it was. And today I workshopped my first scene of the screenplay it’s going to become.

I actually kind of cheated on the assignment though. I was up till 3 a.m. last night working on the treatment.

After all the work I’d been doing on the sequel my brain’s been mush and just wants to party! It’s been SO hard buckling down to work!

But I had promised to have my scene ready for sharing and my treatment and by golly, I would do it!

Like I said, I finally got the treatment to my kind of satisfaction and I still had to write the scene and it was like 2:30. So I just found a scene in the novel I’d written, and juxtaposed it into screenplay format.

It was a powerful scene, if I do say so myself, and I thought it worked quite well.

My instructor says that a movie scene should be no more than three pages, but mine was 6 pages long.

From the reaction of everyone in the class, they seemed to be impressed. There was that nice kind of silence when people are mulling over something they’ve read for a moment. Then out came the praise.

How I’d managed to really delineate the three characters in the scene, how I’d shown their social position with respect to each other so well, yada yada yada.

I took a few notes, but honestly I was both pleased and disappointed.

It’s always nice to receive praise, but that’s not what I’d come for. I needed a good hard look at my work!

When all the rounds were done in that regard, the instructor did a strange thing, that he hadn’t done before. He looked me straight in the eye and let me have exactly what I was waiting for. He tore it apart.

He said that my scene actually began mid-way down the third page, and though I balked at first, now I’m pretty sure he was right.

And he said I should have ended at the top of page 5, which would make the scene about three pages long. But I disagreed with that suggestion.

Thing is, when someone gives you negative feedback like that, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to agree completely. But it does mean there’s something wrong with that part of the work.

And when I looked at it, I thought that if I just tightened it, it would be fine. And I’m certain it will.

That part of the scene contains key elements needed to develop a different strand of the story. It can’t go.

But… it can be tightened!

Oh it’s so exciting!

It’ll mean an incredible amount of hard work, but oh I can’t wait to get cracking!

I still need to put this sequel to bed (send it off) and I need to also revamp the animated screenplays I’ve written based on new stuff that I’m learning, but by next Tuesday, insha Allah, I’ll have another scene ready to share with the class.

He said I could bring in another one since no one else wanted to. (There are five other people in the class and except for one of them, they’ve all been rather reticent to bring in scenes.)

And just now, the instructor emailed me and called me ‘brave’ for taking his critique in such a good light, and I had to laugh!

He said it was the mark of a real pro. And it is!

Feedback and criticism is a gift!  It doesn’t always feel like a gift but anyone who takes the time to tell you what they really think of your work, has done you a favour! You should thank them, and you should use what they’ve said. Not necessarily doing what they suggest, but knowing that there’s something wrong with that aspect of the story, and you need to fix it.

Even if the person hates you, listen to their feedback. Because they’ll often get great pleasure in pointing out your flaws! So pay attention. It’s the truest critique you’ll receive!

And if they’re doing it in public especially they’ll make sure that they’re pointing out real flaws or otherwise they’ll be the ones coming across looking like a fool.

And if they hate you, and you’ve done something outstanding that they can find no fault with, then they’ll be quiet. Very very quiet. And they’ll probably scowl to themselves, in a darkened corner of the room. And they will pointedly ignore you while everyone else comes up and mobs you.

When you seen that, know you’ve done really well!

You can probably tell that I’m speaking from experience.