Monday, August 13, 2012

Did I Write That?: When Critiques feel like Collaboration

Every writer knows that sharing their work and getting their manuscripts critiqued by other writers, editors, agents, etc is part of the process of fine tuning and finally completing their work.  I am no stranger to the critiquing/feedback portion of the writing process and find ways to share my work whenever possible.

Through my monthly Critique Group, classes, and other industry avenues I have had the wonderful opportunity to have my work looked at by others and have been given some really awesome feedback.  In fact, currently I have 3 manuscripts posted in the forums for Write On Con, a free online Children's Writing Conference, and have received such amazing critiques that I was motivated to spend half the weekend revising.

If you ask me, the BEST critiques are those that not only point out what doesn't work in a particular manuscript, but gives ideas or options for improvement.  For example, instead of simply saying that the beginning of a story seems too wordy or doesn't provide enough information regarding the main characters desire, the critiques that actually show me where I can cut or that provide a possible line that I could add to build on the mc's desire are sooooo helpful to me.  I have been lucky enough to encounter many readers who have provided this kind of critique. 

The outcome is that I have some pretty strong manuscripts which really feel more like collaborations.

I can look at specific sections of a story and tell exactly where I got the idea to write it.  It sometimes makes me feel like its not my story any more.  Its a creation from all of the helpful, creative people I have in my life.

I'm sure I am not the first person to feel this way.  I don't think it means that somehow I am any less of a writer.  I don't think it means I am not the author of my own stories.  Perhaps it just means that I will have a lot of people to take out to lunch, buy a drink for and thank once I get published.

It also means that the picture book writing community is one of the most giving, encouraging, and supportive communities I have ever encountered! Its a community which nutures and understands the need to "pay it forward" and not simply get wrapped up in competition and squashing others with the same dream as you.

Although this is a little premature, thank you to each and every one of you who have ever read one of my pieces and nudged me gently and graciously in the right direction. 

Disclaimer: Part of receiving criticism includes weeding out what you want to listen to and what does not fit in with YOUR particular vision for the piece. Remember, no one should feel they need to listen to and revise based on each and every bit of criticism they receive. You are never going to please all of the people all of the time, so focus instead on pleasing yourself and writing the story you want to tell.

8 comments:

  1. You are right, Marcie! It's a good reminder to give examples for improvement, I'm on a slow learning curve with that skill. Glad you are benefitting from WriteOnCon...I'm so glad we"ve discovered it!

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    1. Jarm, I constantly need reminding to give examples for improvement when critiquing. Even if the writer doesn't take one of my suggestions, they might help jog some brainstorming.

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  2. I so agree with you, Marcie, and great crit groups and partners are real collaborative treasures.

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    1. They certainly are! I was honored you were able to join my crit group, even if it was just for one session. :) You will always be welcomed back.

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  3. So true, especially the disclaimer. As long as you are doing that weeding out, then the story remains YOUR story stepped UP not stepped ON by the critiques. Good luck!

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    1. Well put! I like that! Stepped UP, not ON! :)

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  4. I agree, Marcie! I always like examples - the more concrete the better! Good luck with your mss on WOC - I hope you get great feedback!

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    1. Exactly, Susanna! And yes, WOC has been wonderful. I have been given such great feedback and guidance with three of my WIPs. They keep getting tighter and tighter. Should be submission ready soon. :)

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