Daily Archives: 9, March 2015

Guest Post by Emma Gitani

I hope you enjoy this post. Emma Gitani is a member of several of the same writing groups as me, and she shared this with us today. It’s invaluable advice, especially to those of us who occasionally allow our ego to make the decisions for us…

I belong to many writing groups. A critique group is different from a normal room. It is a place to post your draft for honest feedback (not troll comments). Here’s the thing. A critique is supposed to catch your boo-boos in writing, but more importantly, it is about story structure and character development. Early on in my progression, I realized I posted for critique too early. Not self-editing before I submitted my wonderful story because it was *wonderful*. I have a background in writing and editing technical documents. I know grammar and I’m a good speller. Wow, my arrogance still makes me laugh.

I received a true, honest critique for this *amazing* story of 750 words. The review was a 1,500-word response in polite but straightforward language. I shut down my computer and stewed for two days. Almost in tears, ready to give up because I was so wrong. I was not a good writer…

A couple of days later, I opened my email and story, and went through the review. It was spot on. I used too many adverbs, my tense shifts were huge, and I had a horrible habit of using passive voice.

After this experience, I have made some rules for myself before posting.
1. Read it (out loud)
2. Self-edit looking for my problem areas (gerunds, tense shifts…)
3. Rewrite
4. Then I post (there will still be problems because I don’t know everything)

My writing has improved tremendously (adverb intended) from self-editing and analyzing others’ works.
When receiving a critique do not.
1. Argue with the critique
2. Defend your decisions to break rules (can’t break a rule if you don’t understand it)
3. Make excuses for your error

When receiving a critique do:
1. Thank the person for their time
2. Ask questions to clarify if needed
3. Thank the person for their time


I realized just the other day that my little experiment here is in danger of becoming Celeste’s story rather than the shared journey of Thomas and Celeste. Can’t have that, can we?

Thomas might come off as the bad guy, and likely, he is. This is, however, still his story too. Here you will see the beginning of his descent into madness.

Thomas is weak. His father alternately coddles and berates him. Treats him as incapable of forming his own thoughts. And it shows, too. At almost thirty, Thomas does nothing to run the estate – Lord Blacke hired Jefferson Pourchot instead of handing the reins over to his son. Thomas has zero say-so in the running of his home. The land is the purview of Lord Blacke and Mr. Pourchot, and the house belongs to Celeste.

A stronger man would have confronted his father, forced him to hand over control.  A strong man would have struck out on his own if necessary. Done anything to prove himself, even if only to himself.

Unfortunately for those involved, Thomas is not a strong man. Is he weak? Not necessarily. Is he lazy? Absolutely.

After all, why face disaster and failure when one can stay home, secure in the knowledge that someone else is in charge?

If you are really paying attention, I believe you can pick up on the three emotions Thomas encountered in yesterdays episode: jealousy, disgust, and adoration. The main focus was the adoration Thomas holds for Esther. He has become fixated on her – to the point of possession. That possessiveness has led to feelings of jealous toward any who come in contact with her. He has started comparing Celeste to Esther, and finding fault where none exist. He is disgusted by his wife’s pregnancy: at once thrilled with the life he created, and alternately, horrified that his best friend has fathered his heir, thanks to the slew of hatred his father constantly unleashes about Celeste.

It is a slippery slope, and he is standing on the precipice. How long before he falls?