Monday, June 11, 2012

How NOT to Critique

Day 10 in the Author Blog Challenge poses the question: 

Have you participated in a critique groups? If so, how did it work out for you? If not, why have you avoided them to this point? 

I haven't participated in a critique group per-say but I have had editing sessions with my friend and editor Crystal Lee. Since the prompt for talking about her is tomorrow, I will tell you about the end results. I will also speak of my beta readers here. They were critics too.

Crystal edited The Abigale Chronicles and did such a lovely job, I had to use her again for Yassa. I am trading my cover design work for her editing eagle-eye. It's a very fair trade.

My beta readers corrected my writing as I went along. Their suggestions helped me become better at not using short, choppy sentences as much and a better writer overall. A few suggestions I ignored because they were suggesting I change my writing style. Sorry, but I bend like that for no man or woman.

<rant>I have read too many books with overly descriptive paragraphs that turned me off to the story at hand. No one needs to know where every blade of freaking grass was or what the color of each is. Unless that grass is trying to eat the protagonist, assume it's green because you aren't gonna hear about it, okay? I am a to the point kind of gal who doesn't appreciate that when I'm into how a character is feeling, someone tells me what color the car is that the character is driving and goes into a story about the wind whistling through the barely open windows. Tell me what the person sees and the reaction. Tell me what they feel. If the character is smushing his toes in the grass, then tell me how the grass is tickling his feet. Otherwise, please please leave it alone! </rant off>

My relationship with my beta readers was a good working relationship and I am comfortable with critique unless it tries to change my story or style. But I just reject the suggestion if it tickles my inner writer. Crystal simply pointed out my grammatical errors and made suggestions on how things should be reworded or areas that were fuzzy and could use some work. She was UH-MAZING. Beta readers got the story flowing, Crystal spit shined it for the masses.

I couldn't imagine having a better writing experience. BTW, Crystal and I met in the comments section on another blog. Ahhhhh, networking at its finest!! I have made some awesome virtual friends through weird places.

Now, how NOT to critique. Don't jump at someone and tell them their writing is shit. While I would laugh, many writers are emotionally attached to their work. Like artists, we weave worlds of our own. Our books are our babies. Instead, tell them you like the story but this or that could be changed. I am a very harsh editor and I know that. I warn people up front that I am blunt and to the point. To treat you with kid-gloves will not help you. But I am not mean. There is a difference. Asking questions to make you think about things you have written is the way I go about it (unless there is a glaring error that is repeated, then I point it out and stop marking it, assuming you will take it upon yourself to fix it).

That's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON! 

Jo

10 comments:

  1. When you find a good editor, hold on to them until they run away. It's hard to find the right mix of personality traits for the job: encouraging without condescension, stickler without scolding, right without having to grind their rightness into your tender parts.

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    1. Thanks, Chazz, I'll keep that in mind. I sure hope she doesn't run away. LOL! Thanks for the comment and the blog luv.

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  2. I can totally related with the super long descriptions, there's been more than one book that I just couldn't continue reading because of that!

    It does make it easier to read Anne Rice novels, just skip all the descriptions that don't add anything to the story and you get done with her books in no time!

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    1. Her sister wrote just like her. I have descriptions, just not ones that interrupt the flow or that go on and on. I like to give people their imaginations :) Thanks for the comment, Ellie! I love blog luv!

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  3. Ah, thanks, Jo. I think you're pretty amazing too. Nothing gets by you. Such a great eye. I agree--I'll take suggestions on correcting grammar and wording something better, but I won't change my style or my story unless there is a gaping hole I unintentionally left in the story. I have to admit, I was a little scared to read this post since you told me it talked about me a little. I worried you were going to say I was a nutjob, nitpicking over every little thing. Good to know you found my editing suggestions helpful. You made my day! Thanks for sharing... And I'm so glad we met on that blog as well. Incredible how such a small thing like making a comment can make such a big difference.

    Crystal Lee
    crystalleeauthor.com

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    1. Amen. Critique is just that, critique. Don't take it personally and reject what insults your inner writer soul :) Thanks for the comment :)

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  4. So true....Crystal sounds like my editor; making sense of areas where I have taken knowledge for granted and not explained myself properly. She also does the full proof read. I've seen that some people have had negative experiences in this area so I'm relieved I haven't! Great post as always

    Lisa x

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    1. Editors are sooooo important, aren't they? I wish more indies would take the time to find a really good one. Thanks for the blog love, Ms. Cherry!

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  5. I'm definitely with you on the grass (who's bringing the picnic basket?), but anyone who feels so strongly about detailed description had better be a good enough writer to hide enough description in the dialogue to create a feel for the setting.

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    1. It's not that I have an issue with description. It's when they break the train of the story to delve into three paragraphs about the color of the flowers or how the room was decorated that is annoying (to me). I love Alice Bordchart and she goes on and on about these things. But her story is most excellent so I can skip all that and still love the books. :) Thanks for the comment, Denise!

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