Road Testing

Copyright (c) FreeFoto.comThis afternoon saw my second visit to the Exeter and District Writers’ Club. In the past, I haven’t been 100% keen on writing groups. Some members won’t want criticism, or provide criticism to make one wonder if writing is really what they should do for living. But the Exeter group is a slightly different beast. New members must submit to a reading committee before they are allowed to join. Now, I don’t have any information about the acceptance-to-rejection ratio, but my experience of hearing pieces read aloud suggests the group contains a fair number of talented writers who are serious about their development.

So I took the opportunity to road test the first chapter of Proper Job, my comedy novel. It’s at a fairly advanced drafting stage, so I’m confident that it isn’t awful, but is it funny? Well, to my embarrassment, I giggled at my own material as I spoke – a little surprising, since I’ve read the thing well over one hundred times – and the manuscript was quite well received. Criticisms? The first page is quite demanding of the reader, and I’ll be taking steps to address this (because this confirms my own suspicion). Otherwise, it holds up pretty well. The group comprises, for the most part, ladies of a certain age (I’m sure they won’t mind me saying this), and I wanted to see if the story of a eighteen-year-old Cornish lad trying to chat up a girl would capture their interest. It did seem to, and I’m determined to grasp the positive message of this. (My usual habit is to ignore positive feedback and concentrate on the negative; not sure why; perhaps the negative is more worrying if it turned out to be true.)

Anyway, if Proper Job were a newly-designed car, then I took it out in slippery conditions this morning and survived the test drive. I might be in danger of losing my indifference about the rejections that the manuscript is garnering, day by day…but, meh, maybe not.

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

2 thoughts on “Road Testing”

  1. I read your first chapter of Proper Job and thought it was excellent. The characterisation was awesome.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Rolski! I’ve decided to replace the sample chapter with some excerpts…I’d be interested to know what you mean of them.

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