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I'm a writer, a freelancer, a crafter, a nail polish mixatrix, a tea drinker, an unconventional life-liver, a journaling junkie, an introvert, a chronic-pain-sufferer, an idealist, a geek, a TV-lover. Welcome to my corner of the web!

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

How to take critique


I think crits were the hardest thing to get used to when I was first starting out letting other people read my work. I mean, it feels like attacks and failure when someone doesn't like your stuff, that early. But here's the thing: critiques make it better.

No matter how good your writing is, there's always room for improvement, and one of the best ways to improve is to have someone outside your own brain point out the places that need improvement.

So! Start with this mindset:
- A critique is not an attack, even if you get a bad crit partner who is trying to attack you.
- It's words on a page--once it's out of your brain, it's no longer physically part of you, and your job shifts from creation to improvement.
- Work on getting to like that just-about-to-jump-into-cold-water feeling, and it's much easier to go in there and face the comments.
- Everything can be fixed, and even if it can't, you can pick out the good, learn from the experience, and use it all somewhere else.

When you get your crits back, look them all over, read them all carefully, and then wait a day or three before you do anything. Because of that attack-y feeling, if there's some drastic thing in there, it can throw you for a loop and make you emotional and defensive. Don't write or edit defensively! It blocks the flow big time, and you can lose your authenticity!

After your grace period, fix all the easy stuff--the grammar, the spelling, any stuff that's garbled or unclear.

Then look at the suggestions and comments, and weigh them all. If it's a good idea that sparks something in you, run with it. 

If it's pointing out some major flaw you didn't notice, brainstorm the crap out of it and identify all the ways you can fix it, and all the places in your story that will have to be addressed. That's hard, but not impossible, and will definitely make a better story.

If it's something wildly off the wall, see if you can get more info from them to decide whether it's an individual foible, something you need to worry about, or whether it's something you can discount. The fact is, some feedback just won't be useful. But! If there's something you discount and then several other people point out the same problem, that's something you need to pay attention to. 

Remember: it's your vision. You don't have to do anything that compromises your vision of the story just because your critique partner said to.

Remember also: sometimes writers don't know what they're really writing about until it's done and someone else reads it, to keep a door open to the possibility that your vision is missing some major details.

And then you apply what you've discovered and uncovered and figured out, so that your next draft is cleaner, sleeker, tighter, better.

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