On the never ending quest to improve my writing and gain inspiration, I've recently joined the website You Write On. It's quite a basic set up, but I really like the idea behind it. You upload the opening chapters of a story you're working on, then review other people's stories in exchange for having your story reviewed. It's really a two way thing, as 1 review you write rewards you with a credit, which you use to get another review for your story.
I've been finding great joy in this part all on it's own; feeling a wonderful sense of smugness at 'banking' my credits, much like in The Weakest Link. The aim of all this, the real pinnacle of the adventure however, is not to bank as many credits as possible (note to self) but to get the most good ratings and make it into the top ten charts. The excitement! Actually it is quite, as the number one spot gets a real review by publishers at Random House and Orion.
The small matter of how on Gods earth you make it to the top spot is a bit of a mystery to me, as the competition starts afresh each month and therefore surely the stats must be wiped. How many reviews can one girl realistically do in a mere thirty days? So far I've managed four and bearing in mind it takes 8 to even rank in the charts, it's a little alarming how exhausted I feel!
I must say it's been good for me to be reviewed, as it's something that easily slips into non-existence as a writer, your work becoming to you like the ring to Lord of the Rings' Gollum. My precious! Being reviewed/critiqued is a tricky business though. However much I prepare for it and attempt to be 'cool' it's still hard not to feel pissed of by the STUPID F*CKING COMMENTS!!!!
Ha ha only joking. Sort of. No, generally it really is useful and very interesting to get feedback, I guess I just object to someone called Betty lecturing me on my inability to replicate real teenage speech. 'Maybe you should consider getting a job that involves working with them.' Only what I've been doing for the last seven years! 'Or see how they interact with each other on facebook.' Doesn't that constitute stalking?
Anyway, enough of that. I promise you I'm striving to become less of a baby and actually listen to my peers.
I'm very much enjoying the complete randomness of the entries I've reviewed so far. It's great that whether I like or loathe a piece, I can always learn something from it, be it in the realm of plot, dialogue or description. The extracts are only small (between 5 and 7 thousand words), so can be read fairly quickly, which has had the effect of sending my head into a whirl. The four extracts I've read to date are so different, but have begun to intertwine and merge in my brain. What an interesting story that would make for! Imagine the scene: A battered and deflated housewife in 1920's far reaching Scotland, working for the FBI and hot on the heals of a bloodthirsty mass murderer. But as she waits for the killer, her work is interrupted by an explosion in her block of flats, which merges her brain (in her body) with a Polish builder. And all this during the stress of an impending visit from Ofsted....
I think I have a best seller on my hands.