7/27/10

It’s Not What You’re Doing Right, It’s What You’re Doing Wrong

I haven’t been doing this writing gig very long but the one thing I do know is that my writing has expanded well beyond what I ever thought it could.  It’s exciting for me to see how far I have come as a beginner writer and to see how far I CAN go.  And it’s all because of the critiques on my work, most especially by my insightful critique partner. 

Any friend, family member or neighbor can tell you how great your story and writing is.  Heck, I tell myself how brilliant I am all the time but that will never make you a better writer.  Every writer needs someone in the “biz” to honestly tell them what they are doing WRONG.  Fellow writers are perfect for that.  Sure most of us writers are not professional editors but we are professional readers so we know what draws us in and turns us off.  Plus, we take the knowledge passed on by our forefathers or what we like to call “published authors” and practice on each other.  Like playing doctor as a child, it’s more fun when you get to be the doctor. *raises a brow with smile*

Finding the RIGHT critique partner or group can take time but I’ve figured out the perfect formula.  A solid honest critique will give you:

   a tiny pat on the head
+ a swift kick in the pants
- cynicism
÷ the overall gist
-------------------------------------
= Effective Critique

Recently I won a critique from Chimera Critiques.  A group of gals who offer a free critique, once a month, on your first chapter or query.  On their website you can read a sample of their style critique and I was impressed with what they had to say.  For me, it’s a contest, what do I have to lose?  

My critique was fantastic!  They were RIGHT ON THE MONEY about what I needed to strengthen and where I fell short.  Their comments were not only insightful but thought provoking enough for me to figure out a way to fix my shortcomings.  They gave an acceptable amount of “good boy” pat on the head comments but focused on where I needed work WITHOUT being condescending.  They even tried to help me problem solve in a few areas.  I have had A LOT of people critique my work and from everything I’ve received, these ladies are the IDEAL critique.  Just like my formula above: a pinch of praise, a “smathering” of tough love and rounded teaspoon of well done. 

[DEFINITION:  smathering – a southern term for “a lot.”  More than a dollop but less than a cup.]

You know what they say: “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Well it also takes a village to raise a writer.  I haven’t done this on my own that is for sure.  And I’m not going to get to the finish line without my blogging community at my back.  Thanks to you all!  Every blog/post of writer advice, I’ve probably deciphered, dissected or devoured at some point in time.   But hey, aren't we are all in it together?

6 comments :

  1. I love your formula for an effective critique. I think I shall copy it down and post it (with a post-it) on my wall. Excellent summing up and use of mathematical symbols. :)

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  2. Oh Dom, thanks for noticing my mathematical symbols. I try! It' the best summation I can create for what I am doing!

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  3. Thanks so much for sharing your chapter with us, it was a privaledge to read (: Hope we get to see more in the future!!

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  4. I'm with Dom...great formula! And your 100% correct...I wouldn't be where I am now (which technically is nowhere yet...but lets skip over that) without leaning heavily on my critique partners!! :)

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  5. I loved your formula. :)

    You'll go far because you value a good critique.

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  6. That's great that you've found critique partners that know how to give you what you need! This is the biggest thing that I got out of my MFA program--a community of writer peers who really know how to critique my work :) "It takes a village" is right!

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