Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Critique Partner #3: Jonathan D. Allen

I'm matchmaking critique groups. You can either come to my blog and read questionnaires filled out by potential critique partners to see if you find one you like. Or you can fill out a questionnaire yourself and send it to me. I might post it on my blog or I might do the work in the background and set you up with someone who might be a good fit for you.


Note: The questionnaires will be posted as they were given to me. I am not editing them, so any spelling or grammar mistake is theirs, not mine. Even if the writer has given me permission to use his/her name, I’ll refer to that person as Critique Partner # (whatever number he/she is assigned.) This does not mean anyone has been paired up yet. I simply needed a system to identify everyone.
Critique Partner #3 hasn’t told me not to post his information, so you can contact him directly if you wish or you can go through me.

Here’s a little bit about Critique Partner #3: Jonathan D. Allen

Critique Group Questionnaire

About You:

1. In a paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself. (Married? Kids? Pets? Job? Anything you’d like to share, but don’t talk about writing here. Those types of questions will follow.)

I live in Bethesda, MD with my fiancee, two cats, and two guinea pigs, for whom I named my publishing company. I currently work full-time as a technical writer at a major cable company headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, and like to play guitar and video games in my spare time.

2. What made you decide to start writing?

I've been writing since I was a child; at first I wanted to capture the stories that went on in my head, and over time I wanted to share them with other people.

3. How long have you been writing at a serious level?

I've been writing seriously for 22 years, with 4-year break from 2006 to 2010.

4. How many completed manuscripts do you have under your belt?

It's a little fuzzy - I think I'm forgetting one. Either five or six.

5. What’s the genre of the story you’d like to have critiqued?

Urban Fantasy.

6. What genre(s) do you normally write?

Urban Fantasy, Western Fantasy, Sci-Fi

7. What genre(s) do you like to read for pleasure? Name some authors you’ve read (and enjoyed) recently.

Urban Fantasy, Horror, Thrillers, sci-fi, Weird Fiction, Steampunk. I've recently read Finch by Jeff VanderMeer, Wizard and Glass by Stephen King, and Origin by J.A. Konrath.

8. What genre(s) would you prefer not to read?

Paranormal Romance, romance in general.

9. Are you published? If yes, what, where, and when?

I have a self-published single, The Kayson Cycle, currently available on Amazon. I have a self-published novel currently in my editor's hands and due out at the end of November, The Corridors of the Dead.

10. Do you have an agent? Care to share his/her name and company? (Not required, just curious).

I do not.

11. Have you entered any contests and what were the results?

Yes. I entered the James Jones First Novel Competition. I didn't win.

12. Are you a member of RWA or any other writers’ groups?

I am not.

13. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A little of both. I start with a rough plot that allows for characters to take charge - I plot my book roughly in thirds, building each section based on the choices that came before.

14. If you join this group, what will you have the members critique?
a)something you’ve already finished and are planning on submitting to agents soon?
b)something your agent wants you to edit before she can submit?
c)something you’re still working on, but you’ll send the earlier part for critique and work on the rest?
d)something you’ve just started. You plan to write and have that chapter critiqued soon after?

C. I'm in the process of a rewrite, but have two chapters ready for critique.

15. How often would you wish to exchange work to be critiqued and how many pages at a time?

Once a week, possibly, and anywhere between 5 and 15 pages.

16. What are your strong points and areas of improvement as a writer?

I've been told that I'm strong when it comes to dialogue. I've sharpened my sense of building a scene over the years, but it doesn't come naturally. I tend to overdo it with narrative, so I've been cutting way back.

17. Rate your strength/weakness in the areas below using the following scale:

1- Need a lot of help
2- Still working on this
3- I stumble sometimes
4- I rarely struggle with this
5- Very strong in this area

a) grammar - 5
b) spelling - 5
c) punctuation -5
d) description -3
e) dialogue - 5
f) narrative -3
g) POV - 4
h) passive voice - 4
i) action/tension - 4
j) tight writing - 3
k) show vs. tell - 3
l) GMCs - 4

18. Describe the GMCs (goals, motivations, conflicts) for one of your characters.

Character Name: Kelli White

What does she want? She wants to solve the puzzle that will free her from her captivity; alternately, if she can't solve the puzzle, she wants a way to escape.

Why does she want it? She has always had a problem with feeling controlled. Living as a captive is incredibly difficult for her.

Why can't she get it? She is being held by a shadowy organization who values her hidden skills and will not release her (or kill her) until she has solved the "mind puzzle" that they have set forth for her.

19. On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being fluffy and 5 being very tough but not rude) what level of critique are you comfortable giving/receiving?

5. My goal is to get better, not protect my ego.

20. How would you describe yourself as a critiquer (detailed, line edit type person, big picture/concept person, etc.)?

Big picture/concept, though I've also worked professionally as an editor, and am willing to look at that level if a writer requests it.

21. Do you have a website or blog? What’s the address? (Are you comfortable with this being posted on my blog? If not, please answer the question and let me know. I won’t post this but need to know more about you when matchmaking.)

I do. It's at http://jonathandallen.com.

Critique Group Specific:

22. Do you belong to or have you ever belonged to a critique group?

I have not.

23. A critique group isn’t a place to promote personal agendas such as religion or politics. Will that be a problem for you?

Not at all. We're all here to get better.

24. In this group, you may find writing with swears, graphic violence, and explicit sex scenes. Will that bother you? Can you objectively critique this type of work?

This won't bother me at all, my book features a few of these myself.

25. Are you looking for a long term critique group or just someone to help you with this particular story?

Long-term critique group, if possible.

Contact Information: (Please fill this out, but let me know if you don’t want this or part of this to be posted on my blog. For example, you may not want your email address posted but are okay with your name and website mentioned.)

Real name: Jonathan D Allen
Pseudonym: N/A
Website and/or blog: Shaggin the Muse, http://jonathandallen.com
Email address: crimnos at gmail dot com

Lynnette Labelle

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