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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Is it Summertime?--How to handle critique

I think it must be. We only had one submission for critiques this week! I hope everyone is traveling and soaking up the sun. That's my plan starting on Monday.

I did want to finish my thoughts on critiques today while it's fresh in my mind. This is my only rule:

It's all subjective!

Ten people can read the exact same scene and it will be some random configuration of

or hate it

What's a writer to do?

1. Remember your vision for the story. What do you want to accomplish? What emotions, thoughts, changes do you want to invoke in people with your writing? What makes the story resonate the most with you?

2. Look at the comments that were offered--specifically questions asked. What do the questions reveal?

   a. Is the reader asking the question you want them to be asking at this time? Do you answer it later in the WIP in a timely and crucial moment?

   b. Is the reader asking the wrong question entirely? Look to see where they might have been misled and fix it so they start asking the right question.

   c. Is the reader asking about something that you thought you already explained? You may need to beef up a sentence or two to clarify and make sure the reader doesn't miss important details.

   d. Is the reader asking about something you thought was obvious so you never explained it? This one is a bit tougher. As writer's it's all in our heads so it is obvious to us. But we are also told not to lay everything out in excruciating detail as if our readers are stupid. I would seek for second and third opinions on these kinds of questions.

Example: I had an adult female and a teen female beta read Sendek (over a year ago). The teen asked very different questions and I realized most of them were simply because she didn't have the same years of experience to understand the context. So, although she enjoyed the story, she didn't get a lot of the motivations. Sendek is not YA and none of the adults had a problem understanding so I didn't make any changes.

and finally...

   e. Are they asking a question you never considered? Some of my best scenes came about because someone asked a question that burned itself into my head. I became obsessed with finding the answer and it improved my story in a way I could not have done alone.

3. Now that you have all these comments, questions and typos pointed out, work through your WIP and make the changes you feel best fit your goals. You don't have to get bent out of shape about a comment because you are still in charge

This is your story. 

As long as you remember that critiques are one person's opinion you can use them to your advantage.

Find someone who would be your target audience for the best feedback. Those are the ones that will matter most, but anyone can spark your imagination with questions. These are just a few ways that a good critique partner (or 3) can take your writing and your story to the next level.

Question for You: Would you rather find a critique partner now or after the summer is over?


L. said...

I'll take critique partners whenever they turn up.

Are you still taking submissions? Wouldn't mind feedback on some things -- just didn't fit your criteria.

Charity Bradford said...

L, feel free to email me at charity.bradford@gmail.com with some questions or instructions for what you would like me to look at.

mshatch said...

great points all Charity :)