Friday, October 11, 2013

The Value of "Fresh Eyes"

You only get one chance to make a first impression, right?

It's true for dating.  It's true for job interviews.  And its true for...

wait for it...

writing.

Recently, during a phone conversation with my agent, I asked when in the process is it best for me to send work to her.  I found her answer brilliant. 

She said, "It's up to you.  But just remember that you only get my fresh eyes once."

Wow.

I hadn't thought of it that way. 

Writers need critiquers because we need eyes that are not so "close" to the story.  We need "unbiased" readers. However, each time a critiquer reads a piece they become closer and closer to it, whether they realize it or not.  And THEN if they actually contribute to some of the revision, you are dealing with a VERY close critiquer.

I might go as far as saying that having someone look at your piece more than twice is dangerous.

So, what are my tips for keeping my critiquers "fresh"?

1)  Belong to more than one critique group.  Of course, these are time consuming, however maybe belong to one in-person group and one online group.  And remember, critiquing other's work will informs your's, too.

2)  Have a few critiquers who are better than you.  That sounds weird, but I have a few published friends who I admire so much.  And once in awhile, when a piece gets to a certain level, I ask one of them if they can read it.  But remember, always respect other people's time.  Do not abuse this relationship.

3)  Pay for critiques.  There are people who do this sort of thing.  Find them online.  Find them at conferences and workshops.  Splurge. 

4)  Use Rate Your Story.  It's a free service.  And although you can't be guaranteed a thorough critique, it's a start.

5)  Don't rush to submit.  Do the work.  Do the heavy lifting first.  Don't abuse your submitting power.  It's better to delay giving your manuscript to ANYONE and wait til its ready. Put your best work out there ALWAYS!

32 comments:

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    1. Thanks, Miranda. I linked to RYS. Hopefully I'll send some more peeps your way!

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  2. Love the picture and the post.

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  3. Hey, nice shades, and wonderful post! So true about needing new eyes. I feel like I need new eyes anytime I do a major revision.

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    1. Thanks, Hannah. I chose the shades for not only the attitude, but because its been a LONG week and my eyes were NOT camera ready. :)

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  4. Excellent post, and great heads-up about "you only get my fresh eyes once" -- I'd never thought about that.

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    1. Susan Hawk is a brilliant woman...that's for sure. :)

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  5. Good advice. Sometimes it can be hard when you are really excited about a piece. I'm definitely learning to hold off and let a story sit so I can revise it.

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    1. Totally. But remember, variety is the spice of life. Try not to give the same critiquers a piece more than twice. It will keep you on track. :)

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  6. Great post, Marcie! I couldn't agree more with your suggestions. :)

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  7. I've never really thought about 'fresh eyes' before. Maybe that's why I'm reluctant to look at something I've critiqued after it's been revised/rewritten.
    Actually, I think ALL critiquers are better than me.

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    1. Your gut is right in not really wanting to look at something again. But twice isn't a bad thing. After that there is risk.

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  8. Great post and pic. 100% agree. I like to have one or two crit groups and then random writerly friends, whose 'fresh eyes' I know I can request at a later stage of the revision process. Love Susan's response, too.

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  9. Guess I'm still further back in the learning phase!

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  10. This is good advice Marcie! I'm working on starting a face to face group. It's harder than I thought though :(

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  11. Great post, Marcie. So good to have some critique partners as "fresh eyes" only people!

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  12. Excellent tips, Marcie! With several critique groups you have several fresh eyes.

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  13. Great post and picture. Right now I just have a few writerly friends that I send stuff. I wish I could maintain being in a regular critique group, but it's hard for me to keep up. But fresh eyes is super-important.

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  14. Excellent advice, Marcie! I was just wondering about this.

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  15. I'm looking at this Fresh Eyes idea with fresh eyes!! And yikes! That never occurred to me. Great tips.

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  16. Great post Marcie! And the photo is hilarious - you're a ticket!

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  17. Great post! It really makes you pause about the relationship with an agent. Sure, they will work with you on a story multiple times, but you only get one unbiased review. It is really making me think twice about the critiques I give and receive. I could easily list off 10 stories by friends which I am far too close with.

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  18. Just a quick note to say that this was a great post, Marcie, and to let your readers know that I'm one of the those sets of "fresh eyes." An author of over 20 traditionally published children's books, I also offer manuscript evaluation and editing services. There's nothing more fulfilling than helping pinpoint areas of strengths and weaknesses in a manuscript to a keen writer. Whether you have a partial draft or a full draft; whether you're writing a picture book, MG, or YA manuscript; whether you're a beginner or an experienced author, please feel free to get in touch. And feel free to have a look at my website (www.susanhughes.ca), especially the page titled Manuscript Evaluations. Best, Susan Hughes

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  19. This is an excellent post, Marcie. I've actually been thinking about it a lot the last couple of days because I subbed to both my in person and on-line group this week...fresh eyes are key to really finding the weaknesses in a story.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kirsti. Good luck finding those fresh eyes. :)

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  20. Yes, yes, yes!!! This is great advice. Thanks, Marcie! I do a mix of group and individual critiques. All have been beneficial.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jilanne. Keep on writing and sharing! xo

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  21. Thank you, Marcie, for this advice. I would be lost without critique groups and services such as RYS.

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    1. I hear ya! Thanks for dropping by, Charlotte. :)

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