Friday, October 25, 2013

Thinking about Critiquing


"...you better pull on your big girl panties because if you want to be a successful writer, you better learn how to take criticism.  You not only have to take it, but you have to turn it around and be grateful that someone cares deeply enough about your words and work to tell you the truth about them." 

I belong to a wonderful writers' group, The Girlfriends' Book Club, an eclectic group of female writers,
whose work ranges from genre to literary fiction.  It's nearly my turn to blog on our group site, and after considering the suggested topic for this cycle: Who reads your work?  Talk about your experiences
during critique, etc., I decided to share this blog here.


Honesty vs. Brutality

As much as I try to be constructive and helpful when critiquing another writer’s work, it does NOT come across as either, for the following reasons: they (the writers) are in love with their work (as they should be); they want to hear praise (I make sure to do that); just the same, no amount of praise is going to ameliorate hard truths, like “This scene does not forward the storyline.  It seems unnecessary to the book’s arc.”  Or “You’ve already said this.”  Or “This dialogue has no subtext.  It’s not believable.”  I could go on and on.  I don’t read for anyone anymore.  For me, it tends to end with hurt feelings.

On the flip side of the coin, I have received editorial feedback like, “I think you should rewrite this from a different point of view.”  “Cut these four pages.”  “Write something better, more beautiful here.”  “You don’t need this.” 

And, truth be told, you better pull on your big boy or big girl panties because if you want to be a successful writer, you better learn how to take criticism.  You not only have to take it, but you have to turn it around and be grateful that someone cares deeply enough about your words and work to tell you the truth about them. 

Like in comedy, delivery is everything.  Start by saying something positive, like, “I like the paper you used.”  “I bet this pen was expensive.”  “Great font you’ve chosen.”

I try VERY hard not to read the work of aspiring authors.  Feelings get hurt. 

Flip the coin: I know who I can trust to read for me, and I am oh so appreciative!

Look for WHERE I AM BORN, Simon & Schuster, 2014/2015.  Buy your copy of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors NOW.  Sold Everywhere!

*Where I Am Born is the epic tale of two women separated by oceans, generations and war, but connected by something much greater—the gift of wings.

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