Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's Love Got to Do with it?


I know many of you are fans of American Idol as am I. Maybe you cringe like I do when the contestants who clearly can't sing try out. I alternate from wanting to cry for them or yell at the family member who led them to believe they had any talent at all.


I don't want the same thing to happen to me with my writing.


When I submitted to the Genesis contest with ACFW, I hoped for some clear-cut feedback. I got it. In fact one judge suggested I purchase the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. I got myself a copy for $6 from Amazon.


That judge gave me some of the best advice I've gotten so far.


So here's what I'm saying. I appreciate feedback and critiques but let's keep it real. If someone doesn't tell me where my writing really needs improvement--how is it ever going to get better? I'm past someone patting me on my head and telling me to get on the stage and just do your best. (thanks Mom)


But I don't need that anymore. I've been doing this for a few years now and I want a meat diet--not the milk.


So where do you stand when it comes to feedback with your writing? Are you ready to take on some constructive critiques? Or do you want to lull yourself with thoughts of fame and publication without the work?

It's alot easier to have an article rejected. But when you get a book turned down that you've spent quite possibly a year of your life perfecting--it isn't as much fun.





29 comments:

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Oh, Terri, I'm going on about four years of tough critiques. They keep getting tougher as I learn and apply. I'm a slow learner, and it often takes my crit partners (two of which are multi-published) several forceful lashings before I finally get what I'm to fix. I'm stubborn, I guess, but I eventually get it and apply their lessons. Same with judged critiques. I gain from them, but again, I learn slowly, so the change happens slowly for me.

Welcome to the road of humble learning, Terri. The world needs more of us, but faster learners than me preferably.

Kristen Painter said...

Self-Editing is a fab book! I recommend it to all the newish writers I know.

I think I'm able to look at my work with a fairly objective eye, so when I get a critique I know what to accept and what not to. I really try to make feedback work for me.

jinksy said...

I'd far rather get straight talking and constructive criticism than insincere praise. Other's opinions on writing are invaluable. When you've been reading your own stuff for the umpteenth time, you can get a kind of word blindness, and become incapable of spotting errors or oddities that a fresh pair of eyes spot at once. Bring it on, I say...

jinksy said...

I'd far rather get straight talking and constructive criticism than insincere praise. Other's opinions on writing are invaluable. When you've been reading your own stuff for the umpteenth time, you can get a kind of word blindness, and become incapable of spotting errors or oddities that a fresh pair of eyes spot at once. Bring it on, I say...

Jennifer Shirk said...

In the beginning you really need the tough critiques--along with the encouraging ones. :)
Now I pretty much know what's working and what's not on my own before I even give them over to someone else to read. My suspicions about it always get confirmed. LOL!

Greg C said...

I used to love it on Idol when they asked the contestants that same question you mentioned; Who said you could sing?

I don't take criticism well at all but I do know it is necessary. It all depends on how it is expressed. Everything can be said in a nice way.

Jill Kemerer said...

Constructive criticism is always a relief! I'd much rather have a critique partner :) point out flaws than have an editor send me a form rejection.

Yes, the goal is to get published, but for me, the ultimate goal is to be a great writer. I can't do that without honest feedback.

Ang said...

I love for someone to critique my work. How else am gonna learn? I actually own the Self-Editing for Fiction Writer book. I loved it. I keep the book next to me at all times when editing anything.

Trudy said...

I'm not there yet since I haven't submitted anything for publication, but I do take criticism hard and know I will really have to work on that because I know it can be very constructive!

Pat said...

You know me Terri, the deeper the cut, the better. And I'm just as hard on myself. But it's hard to find. Plus, critiques are all in the eye of the beholder so you need more than one source of feedback because you can get so many different views on your work. Maybe that's where the writer's group comes in handy if there is always a time for the 'getting down to business' of telling each other what works for them and what doesn't after they read your work so the writer can piece it all together. You need honest feedback from other writers/readers as well as those who are 'in the business.'

Angie Ledbetter said...

Gimme the straight jazz every time. I want to know any and every single thing that can be improved, that bumps the reader, that could be said a better way, etc. Without thick skin, there's no hope for improvement. I appreciate the fact that my crit group doesn't wear rose colored glasses, but is honest. Now, there's a kind way to say things, and it helps to point the positives out as well as the negatives. That said, gimme truth! :)

Cindy said...

I agree that it's good to get the tough feedback on your writing. It's nice to have the good things sprinkled in there, but if that's all we get then it doesn't help us improve in the long run.

Patti said...

I agree, eventually you want some hard critiquing. You almost crave it.

Lin said...

good ideas, relates to more than just writing...it's very complex and is part of our self esteem also-how we handle criticism and how the critic does it

ginny said...

I would not mind someone's critique on my blog, however, I have not as yet submitted anything for a real writing critique. I may get that book Self-Editing just to have something to help.

Melissa Marsh said...

Constructive criticism, definitely. I'm at that point in my career where I need to hear the hard stuff, no matter if it hurts or not.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I believe that I can't improve my writing skills without some serious critiques. Even though it's nice to hear that someone enjoy/likes what I wrote, I'd rather they got out their red pencils and starting editing.

Rose Mary said...

I agree that getting turned down is not much fun!! But I do appreciate constructive criticism from an editor or judge.

Entering Gensis 2009 was a good thing and I liked getting back the critiques. I think we have to face the fact that some judges, agents, editors, etc. are just not going to like our work. I think my mixed scores from Genesis reflected that.

T. Anne said...

I've actually have gotten some great feedback and some horrible feedback all of which I take in and apply as necessary as far as revisions go. It's important to keep ourselves grounded. Nothing worse than living in a delusion.

Wendy said...

I want to learn and I want to improve so give it to me, but give it to me respectfully.

~ Wendy

Jessica said...

I prefer constructive critique too. I like compliments, but then I always think maybe the person is trying to be nice. LOL So a tough crit is a relief. What I had to learn was to not take everyone's advice. I used to change everything pointed out, but now, like Kristen said, I'm learning to be more objective and make the crits work for me, rather than let them change my whole story.

Jody Hedlund said...

No pain, no gain, baby! That's my life motto. No, seriously, I'd rather have a hard kick in the pants any day then a fluffy kiss on the cheek. Hopefull the kicks will propel me forward toward publication!

Kara said...

At first it was difficult to take criticism, because so much of my heart goes into my work. But then I realized it just made my story better. But I want details, not "Well, this would be great if you just tweaked it a little." I want to do exactly what is wrong and needs work. Constructive criticism from someone you trust and admire is a gift.

Andrea said...

I want honesty!!

LauraLee Shaw said...

I don't think we can grow in any area of life without good advice and instruction. I'm by nature, defensive, but doing it God's way means being teachable. In my writing, in my parenting, in my faith...I long to be sharpened by those the Lord sends to me.

giddymomof6 said...

I'm like you. Let's cut to the chase so I can make this an awesome book! Good luck! ANd i'm glad you got some great advice! Jenni

BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

Terri, that is why I go to the "carnivores". It smarts like a heavy slap on a cold day but I have to believe it helps, too. You are welcome to join me for a sneak peek some day and pick me up off the floor after they chew up and spit out my work.LOL.
(The "carnivores" is a nickname given by a leader to a local critique group.)

BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

Sounds inviting, eh? LOL.

Nancy said...

That was a good word. When I get ready to send my children's novels out, I will definitely want the best feedback possible.
Here's the thing. I know I need help with the overall grammer, typos, and point-of-view things. It's just that I know what is in my heart for a book and right now, I'd rather say what I want to say than what may be "in" for publication. I could have a change of heart, but right now, that's where I'm at.