Monday, February 4, 2013
Critiques: Giving and Receiving, Why BOTH Are Important
The word strikes fear in the hearts of many authors. For someone to critique your work you're opening yourself to the possibility that your masterpiece, your work of art, maybe even your 'Magnum Opus' might not be perfect. If you need someone to critique it, that suggests there might be flaws. *audible gasps* "Say it ain't so!"
You've read your manuscript three-hundred and forty-six times. You've edited the living shit out of it. Therefore, you're convinced it must be perfect by now. Plus, if someone critiques it, that means you may have to go through it again, giving you the strong urge to pluck out your own eyes.
Well, folks, I'm here to tell you, unless you've had at least two or three people critique your work, it's mostly likely not ready to be published.
'But. But. But my mom read it and tells me it's perfect. Plus, my best friend read it; she loves it. So it must be ready,' you may be thinking. STOP.
Just stop. Stop. Ptss... stop. Be still and listen.
There's something else you probably need to do before your own work is ready for publication. You need to critique another's work. That right... YOUR OWN work may not be ready, until you've not only read tons of other books, but have actively critiqued other peoples' writing.
"WAIT!" you may be thinking. "What does someone else's work have to do with how ready MY work is?"
Hear me out, even though you may think I've lost my freakin' mind. I haven't. I promise.
The amazing Kelley Lynn was the first to give a true line-by-line edit and critique of my manuscript, DEVASTATION. I contacted her after running across her blog, because I'm brazen like that. She was very gracious, when I asked if she'd like to read my book. This was one of the best things to happen to my book. For two reasons.
First off, she gave me wonderful feed back, telling me what worked, what didn't work, and why. THANK YOU, KELLEY, I needed that. Secondly, (here's the point of this blog, so don't miss it) she asked me to critique one of her friend's MS as a return favor. So I did. Critiquing that manuscript turned out to help my own book. Did you get that? It was after I critiqued another author's work I began to really see flaws in my own writing.
Sometimes what that author did right stood out to me. However, it was also some of the mistakes I ran across, which made me more aware of them when I read back through my own manuscript. By actively looking for flaws in another's work, the same types of blunders in DEVASTATION became more apparent.
Kelley Lynn and her friend (now my friend, too) helped me learn how to be critiqued and how to critique. These are two of the most valuable lessons I've learned on this journey to publication. At least, that's where I hope this is all leading; I'll get back to you when that happens.
The Off Beats, a group of seven critique partners. When The Off Beats formed, I had no idea how invaluable these ladies would become to me. They've become not only my 'writer friends', but my confidants, my shoulders to cry on, and my support through this tumultuous odyssey.
Thank you to all my CPs, past and present, without you, I'd be lost.
Do you have a critique partner(s)? If so, what are some of the valuable things you've learned from critiquing their work? What are some lessons you've learned from the RIGHT things they do in their manuscripts? Share your CP experiences in the comments section. Here's your chance to give those shout outs and kudos to your CPs.