Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Power of Crtique


In my last post I equaled your writing to your child -- it is that personal, an extension of you, if you will. To anyone reading that actually has children (or someone you love deeply and unequivocally)...you know when someone goes after your kid with an insult or taunt or some form of wrong doing? And you know how any parent worth their salt goes into,"Oh no you didn't just wrong my child" mode? And there just may be claws that come out to protect our young?

Well.

Sometimes a critique feels like that. "Oh no you didn't just rip my book/baby apart!"

But wait, didn't I title this post The Power of Critique???? Oh yes I did.

You know that saying, "With age comes wisdom" ?? I'd like to tweak it, for today's purposes, to: "With time spent as a writer, with eyes and ears wide open...comes wisdom."

I remember getting so defensive after my first go on Miss Snark's First Victim...like, I got angry. And I got into it with one or two critique'rs. They were "attacking" my baby.

The thing is, there was power in that critique. I had to step aside and open my eyes and open my ears. See. Listen. There is power in every critique. Do the snarky/bitchy ones hurt? Why yes they do. But if you pull back the snark and get to the heart of what is actually being said, 9 times out of 10 you will find something of value. Something that just might make your writing/scene/dialogue/character stronger...better...

Will you agree with every word of every critique. Hell no. And that is okay too. It's okay for you to stand strong with parts of your writing because you believe in them. However, if you repeatedly hear the same bit of critique, then, maybe it's time you...see...listen.

No matter where you are in your journey, I can not tell you how crucial it is to align yourself with fellow writers that you trust and respect. Form an online crit group. Ask for people to beta. Get people to read your work...industry people. Go to conferences. Put your work out there again and again and again and again. Enter contests.

Take the heat.

Roll your sleeves up and get knee deep with the world/characters you created.

A good critique isn't nice sometimes but never rude. A good critique pushes your characters to be true to themselves. A good critique wants scenes to flow better and pacing to be tighter and tension built up more in places. A good critique shows you when you've nailed it, or you've given the reader chills...made them cry...made them feel for your characters. A good critique wants your manuscript to be the best it can possibly be.

There is power in that.