The Evolution of an Author

Every author, if they are serious about writing, goes through an evolution as they grow. At my critique group this week, we are reviewing a manuscript from one of our members, J. Thomas Ross, that she wrote soon after she graduated college. She is now a retired school teacher, so this manuscript has been in a drawer a long time!

We have reviewed many a page by Ross, and we rarely find much to criticize—although there is much to praise. Her work is meticulous, her descriptions effortless and vivid, her characters deep and real. Her world-building sucks you right into the story, and the plot grips you. She has done much to perfect her craft over the years, so seeing this very early manuscript has been fun.

This young manuscript has problems most beginners are familiar with. Head-hopping POV shifts. Clunky description. Confusing action. Minor plot holes. Using overly-large words when a shorter one would suffice. Even the grammar mistakes, which is a rarity today!

What is amazing, though, is what else is evident in this early manuscript. The descriptions, while occasionally clunky, are vivid, drawing you right into the moment. Her characters leap off the page. You become invested in them and their journey immediately. They are real. Her portrayals of emotion are compelling, not cheesy as many early efforts can be. It is clear that she applied her current meticulous writing style to this manuscript, because even with its faults it is a page-turner.

I am really enjoying this look into the early work of a writing friend I admire. It has let me see her evolution from a young writer to a seasoned one. Her basic skill was evident early on, but she has worked hard to bring her craft skills up to meet that potential. I hope that someday you, too, get to enjoy the work of J. Thomas Ross. I guarantee she will grab you from page one.

Have you ever had the chance to read early work from another writer? Could you spot the potential? Do you ever look back at your own early work and compare it to where you are now?




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