Gutsy Writers Submit for Critique By Ada Brownell

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Ada Brownell

Critique is for gutsy writers committed to succeed and communicate.

Since I’ve never been much for spending hours beating the air instead of reaching goals, when I decided to write a novel I joined a critique group at American Christian Fiction Writers. If I remember correctly, I had to critique three chapters for other writers before I could submit one. Later, I joined a small group of critiquers. It was a great way to improve my writing and learn what editors and readers are looking for today.

I viewed the first critique with shock when I saw all the track changes and comments. Yet, I took almost all of the advice, and edited my work.

I learned something else. I know more about editing than I thought. After decades of immersing myself in language, I recognized misspelled words, verbs that didn’t agree with subjects, and was amazed that I could find needed corrections for one author who was a mechanical engineer. She had a serious problem with homophones. Yet, her historical romance became a best seller, and maybe I helped her get there.

My critique partners grabbed on telling like an ax on a hunk of wood. Didn’t take long for this newspaper gal to learn the difference between showing and telling. Telling is like looking at a history book. Showing is like sitting in the movie theater at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois, and being dropped into the middle of the Civil War. Before it started, the circular screen promised things to come. I don’t remember if it was 3-D, but then a mass of soldiers pressed around me, shouting commands, firing weapons, while dead and wounded lay at my feet. Shots zinged. Fire exploded from a cannon with a boom, and gray smoke clouded the air. The floor, covered with bodies, quaked as another cannonball hit a target, the sound deafening but not drowning out the cries of the wounded. Even the seats wobbled. The taste of gunpowder lingered on my tongue. Perspiration broke out on my forehead and a lump held back my tears.

To show, use active tense; details such as colors, the exact name of a thing; and motion. The writer should act like a TV camera following movement. Put everyone and even nature in motion.

Never name an emotion—show what the character does with his emotion. Every time you think of an emotion, think motion!

Remember, a great scene has a goal, conflict, and disaster or complication. Here are some of my cliff hangers that reveal complication at the end of chapters in The Lady Fugitive.

End Chapter 1: He shoved her into the darkness and slammed the opening shut. A padlock clicked.

End Chapter 2: An echo pounded in the night air above the rumble of her horse’s feet. A shiver shook Jenny. Was she being followed?

End Chapter 3. Blood rushed to her face. Passion Show? Didn’t he say it was something about Jesus? Evidently the peddler also showed sinful things. She had fallen for a rogue.

©Copyright Ada Brownell 2014

Ada Brownell leads the critique group for Ozarks Chapter of American Christian Writers in Springfield, MO. She has written for Christian publications since age 15, and has five published books. The latest is The Lady Fugitive, published July 18, 2014, by Elk Lake Publishing, a division of Book Club Network.

Other books: Imagine the Future You, a youth motivational Bible study (November 2013). Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult, a novel (Jan. 15, 2013); Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, (Dec. 6, 2011); and Confessions of a Pentecostal, published by the Assemblies of God in 1978 but out of print but released in 2012 for Kindle; All the books are available in paper or for Kindle.

Imagine the Future You audiobook is available at Free book with new Audible membership.

The Lady Fugitive

The Lady Fugitive

Back cover copy for The Lady Fugitive by Ada Brownell

How does a respected elocutionist become a face on a wanted poster?

Jenny Louise Parks escapes from the coal bin, and her abusive uncle offers a handsome reward for her return. Because he is a judge, he will find her or he won’t inherit her parents’ ranch.

Determination to remain free grips Jenny, especially after she meets William and there’s a hint of romance. But while peddling household goods and showing a Passion of the Christ moving picture, he discovers his father’s brutal murder.

Will Jenny avoid the bounty hunters? Can she forgive the person who turns her in? Will she find peace, joy and love?

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Blog: Stick to Your Soul Encouragement

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the helpful tips, Ada. The ACFW Crit loops have helped me a lot as well.

    Amber Schamel
    Bringing HIStory to Life


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