So on the 10th I attended my 2nd Pennwriters meeting, and my first as a member, meaning that I was allowed to share my own work as well. I ended up taking the 4 1/2 page (double-spaced) prologue about the little girl who's hiding behind the couch when her parents die. I was so freakin' nervous, but I did it! First of all, we make up copies for everyone so they can write their comments on them, and then we have the option of reading them aloud ourselves, asking someone else to read for us, or having a silent read. I chose to read aloud myself, since I've been over that piece a million times and I know the inflections better than anyone else. I forced myself to read at a proper speed and with the correct emotion (even shouting when shouting was called for) and refused to allow myself to feel embarassed by doing so. If I want them to really feel it, I have to read it how it should feel.
Afterwards, we can let the others know what kind of critique we want (only positive, only on flow or grammar, etc) and I told them to just let me have it, because I truly want to learn. Basically, I told them to let me know if I have any business writing at all.I found out that they do what they call "Pickles of Praise" where if someone really loves it, they draw a little pickle (I know, I laughed too) on your page to let you know.
Surprisingly, the only negative feedback I received (if you can even call it that) was that several people agreed that one section seemed too sophistocated for a four-year-old's thinking, and someone else brought up that I used too many exclaimation points (she circled them all to show me, and boy was she right!).
Aside from that, I received one pickle, and several encouraging comments, such as:
"Good start!" from Todd
"Chris, very good! Do not change from using a narrarator to the child's POV." from Gene (it was brought up that maybe I should do it from Rilee's POV, but most people, myself included, agreed that this wouldn't work.)
"Keep writing. You have talent. Good emotional tension and description." from Dave
"Excellent debut! It really holds my attention, Christy! Keep working! (underlined twice)" From Jean
"Very good! Well done and reads well. Keep up the GREAT work." from Tom
"Pickle. Story line is great." from Tina
"Keep writing. The prologue is awesome. Be careful of slipping in and out of characters/narrarator. Have some in control." from Olivia
"Oh yes! You ARE a writer! POV is not confusing for me. Using a narrarator is fine, and then the man and woman." from Alice.
"Interesting! Powerful stuff. A lot of promise. Lot of tension, emotion." from Catherine
All in all, I was pretty encouraged! I can't wait for the next meeting!