A tongue-tangling nursery rhyme goes like this:
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair,
So Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t Fuzzy
I learned a lot about Fuzzy Wuzzy this past weekend at the Atlanta Christian Writers’ Retreat sponsored by Word Weavers International. Fuzzy Wuzzy is a bear that I must tame in order to write the kind of book that all of you will want to read.
The marathon retreat weekend provided me and other local writers a great opportunity to improve our craft. I participated in a non-fiction critique group with five other writers. The Word Weavers rules kept all of us focused and productive. Nobody likes to have their writing subjected to the opinion of others, but in the end, you produce a much better piece. Each one brought 2500 properly formatted words.
The guidelines require that each work be read out loud. During the reading and critique, the author of the material must remain silent. Each person who critiques must say something positive about the writing up front, before offering suggestions on structure, grammar, tense, and other elements of good writing. Another encouraging comment is given at the end, before the next person critiques.
I brought two chapters for critique from Charles’ upcoming memoir, Chasing a Whirlwind. It frustrated me to repeatedly hear that many of my paragraphs and sentences were fuzzy and that I was way too wuzzy. In other words, I need to clean up my act. Move some paragraphs, reword some sentences, clarify this technical term, and stop using the word “was.” I only used it 88 times! The critiquers definitely had a point. It is a big challenge for me to write a memoir without using past tense.
When it was my turn to critique, I provided some of same advice for my fellow non-fiction writers. I really enjoyed critiquing their poetry, devotions, articles, and blog posts. Not only did we all improve our writing during the weekend, but we practiced some important Christian virtues.
Kindness: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Patience: “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” Ecclesiastes 7:8
Honesty: “Teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve.” Proverbs 22:21
Stillness: “Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong.” Job 6:24
Humility: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled.” Matthew 23:2
Yes, I learned a lot:
How to improve my writing,
How to accept criticism,
How to gently speak truth.