Monday, February 7, 2011

The Value of Pausing for A Critique

I love getting criticism...I know that's a weird thing to admit, and sometimes it is a hard pill to swallow, but I have yet to come across a critique or suggestion that has made me worse off as a long as I can decipher the good from the bad, of course!

Whether it be from:
(all the below have helped me at some point in my short writing venture)
a manuscript review
comments from ACFW Genesis judges
an agent's rejection letter with the “whys” answered
the ACFW large crit group
or a fab crit partner....
If I can sit and take it, and then really chew on the advice and figure out how it applies, IF it applies (some crits just need to be taken with a grain of salt), I'll crave a keen eye and welcome a challenge like a writing olympian!

Once I get that invaluable crit, I must choose to either press forward on my wip, and ignore the holes pointed out, save them for later or never (I usually want word count under my belt, and strive to get to that exciting point in my plot, or that a-ha moment for my main character...) OR I can cave in to the nudge and press

to the critiqued chapters...
and hash out the words of advice against the words of my wip.

The value of doing this has become more and more clear to me over this past year of receiving crits.

First, something as simple as grammar pointed out in the early chapters will allow me to not repeat the same mistakes throughout the rest of my writing...and if anyone needs grammar advice it is ME!

Second, my writer/creator eyes aren't the same as brand new baby eyes upon my work. Sometimes I am so invested in my characters and story, I assume everyone will read my words with the utmost clarity and delight. But I need to be sure to hook the reader effectively, and a crit partner is the first person to “test” my writing's believability and comprehension. If there is any question on their part, then I have a great opportunity to be sure that what I'm writing is what I intended to convey.

Third, sometimes a criticism may spark a deeper change than a couple of grammar mistakes or a tightening of pov...sometimes the spark might be plot changing, deepening of characters, or weaving the theme in such a way I will double my word count in a matter of hours because of the inspiration I've been given.

FAST FORWARD is the mode I most naturally want to write in-- it's the pace my creative juices thrive on...BUT, if I allow my crit partner or crit group to press pause every once in a while, and I steady my pace, REWIND becomes my friend, no matter how hard it is for me to initially push that button!

How do you manage your critiques? Do you stop and adjust the critiqued chapters, or do you wait until you go through your next manuscript edit? Have you ever been inspired to make a major change in your wip from a particular critique?


Pepper said...

Great post, Angie.
Oooh, dreaded critiques. I just got a doozy of a critique and had to wait a few days to finish reading it because the sting was so accute.
GOOOOOOOD critique, but incredibly thorough.

But how else will we learn and grow as writers if we only contend with our own POV? Terribly one-sighted, don't you think? :-)

And I'm with you - I may not LOVE critiques, but I do appreciate them.
Thanks for the post.

Keli Gwyn said...

Angie, after spending the past two years in Revision Land, I've learned to welcome critiques. Seeing my story through others' eyes helped me take it to a new level. I've realized revision is vital and have done so much of it I like to say I'm not a writer, but a re-writer.

Casey said...

Right there with you, Angie! I really like critiques as well because it gives me something to WORK with. I can make changes on my own, but soon my eyes aren't going to see it anymore, so I love a second, third, or more! pair of eyes looking. Good to know I'm not the only one. :-D

Julia M. Reffner said...

I'm just starting and I know other eyes see what I don't. I really enjoy editing after a critique because I feel I'm better able to target my work.

Misha Gerrick said...

No idea. I'm looking for my CP now...


Mary Vee Storyteller said...

The critique medicine brings healing to my WIP when I didn't even know it was sick.
I've been blessed with some fab critiques...then, yes I've had a few others...but like you-I savor the blessings of the good critiques. The product: mighty find work:)
Thanks Angie

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I've some good and a few not so good. And what I find difficult is when critiquers don't get what I had in mind. When they don't get my character. Obviously, I haven't done my job as a writer and portrayed them correctly. Sigh...the truth can hurt a bit, but oh, the value of the truth and being able to apply that truth is the BEST.

Great Post today!

Angie Dicken said...

I was out of commission poisoning, ugh! I think it is so great that we have a community where we can get opinions on our work...
Thanks for commenting, all!

Jillian said...

I welcome a critique with open arms because I know I have so much to learn.