Friday, October 14, 2011

Red Pen

I used to be afraid of critiques.  No, not getting them. Giving them.  I in no way felt qualified to tell other people how to write.   I used to read work posted for critique, figure out what I would say, then read everyone else’s comments to see if I had got it “wrong”.

I think everyone will agree that critiques are essential to writing.  Obviously getting comments on your work makes you better, but criting other people’s work makes you look at your work differently. Like anything else we can improve our critiquing skills.  Studying other’s comments is one way I learn.  Also just jumping in and doing it. 

Critiques like any reading or writing experience is personal.  Something that may make touch one person may feel overdone to me, or vice versa, because I’m not reading it with the same background they are.    I recently had someone leave a nice comment about my critiques and I spent the next couple hours trying to figure out if she was serious or sarcastic.  In the end it didn’t matter.  I was commenting on the things I knew and understood and that’s all I can do. That’s all anyone can do.  So don’t be afraid. Pull out that red pen and get to it.

13 comments:

  1. Don't be afraid! I love your critiques, Sara. You're honest about what works for you and what doesn't. I need to know that.

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  2. It IS kind of scary to give critiques. My CPs meet as a group. It's kind of nice to hear from the group when something you suggest is spot on, or if you feel like you're the only one. Getting validation about my critiques from the others I think makes me less scared about giving them.

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  3. I always... well, the only thing I really qualified to crit is grammar and sentence structure and all that. I don't seem to see overall theme and imagery, not while critting anyway (I don't think). But then I feel bad, because it's never easy to say, "stop writing sentence fragments!!" and I try to temper the crit by praising what I can.
    It's a tightrope, fer sure [g]
    On the other hand, I love getting feedback. Yours is always helpful, Sara!

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  4. I'll never forget the one truly bad critique I gave a previously published author. I just couldn't get into the first third of her book. I wanted to, I tried hard, but couldn't.

    She had the book sold to a big 6 publisher the day after I sent the critique. I red penned the daylights out of it.

    Feedback is always welcomed. Good, bad, and the ugly is what we need to grow as writers.

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  5. Thanks Zan Marie. That's really all I can do.

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  7. Deniz, I don't know how easy it may or may not be but if it needs to be said then it needs to be said. I'm horrible at sentence fragments. You can get revenge when I'm ready for beta reading if you want.

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  8. Peggy, it is scary. I haven't done it in person since class at university. I do it all on-line now which has a certain anonymity to it. Which helps but also hinders because we loose nuances and tones.

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  9. J.L., well, not every book is for every person. And I'm sure they ended up changing a lot of the same things when they got their editors letter.

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  10. Aw, shucks, Sara, I bet you're fine :-) My main trouble comes from the fact that I still like editing on paper. I've mailed out copy edits to at least two authors so far. Makes it easy to add smiley faces when I like something [g]

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  11. I'm still nervous about doing critiques - especially when people actually listen to what I say!! lol.

    A good friend just did a major re-write because of a few things we'd talked about, and even though I know her book wasn't ready the way it was, part of me is terrified.
    Hopefully I'll always take it seriously, and hopefully we, as authors, will really consider what other people have to say before we jump in and do it.

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  12. I think that's the important thing, remembering that the author has to make the decision to accept or reject the advice.

    I think it is more stressful to crit a friend.

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