Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Criticism . . .

 . . . is your friend.  Repeat after me.  Criticism is your friend.  I'm talking those constructive notes from CPs, judges, editors, agents . . .  Most of them, even ones that might seem harsh (or are harsh) have something of value.  The ones who slam you, offer nothing constructive or useful and seem to be taking their crappy day out on you -- those can go in the trash.  Those only make you second guess yourself.  Anyway, the notes you receive could be something you already know, deep down, needs to be addressed.  It could be something you haven't thought of.  And it could totally go against everything you believe in where your book is concerned.  So what do you do when this happens?

Easy.

You listen.  To every single thing.  Even if, at first, it totally doesn't 'ring' with you.  Here's my rule of thumb -- if anything at all (even something as small as one word) pulls a reader out of my story to write a note, it's potentially something that could pull another reader out of my story.  So give every comment and note serious consideration.  Try to figure out why that particular thing stuck out.  

Often times, I'll get notes that are spot on and sometimes I know immediately a note doesn't jive with the story I want to tell.  It could even make me bristle at first, but I have to take a moment and remember my rule -- there is a reason that particular thing caused the reader to stop reading, and I don't want another reader being pulled out of the story in the future.  In the end, I might not address the note the way the reader saw it, but I do give it time and thought, and usually I'll end up putting my own spin on things and amend the story in someway.  And there are times when I don't, but that is only after I give it a lot of consideration, look at things from all angles, and talk to the person who gave the note (most often great things come from discussions like this).    

3 comments:

jax said...

Bravo. It's the truth. I've learned a lot from good constructive criticism. I've also skipped the bad ones in which you start thinking that you suck when you really don't. In time, the more you write, the more you see your flaws and work on them. Criticism is all a part of this industry and in order to improve, you do have to take both the good and the bad. My last project my editor made me dump 2 whole chapters!!!! Of course, I did it because she was right, even if I loved those chapters. Nowadays, criticism doesn't bother me because it's a learning process.

Kelly Gay said...

Yep. Absolutely. I think, after a while, criticism becomes part of the package. You expect it. Accept it. And deal with it. :)

Pamala Knight said...

Hey Kelly!

Thanks for your comment on my blog and I totally agree with your assessment about critiques. I'm learning how to read past the harsh comments and am trying to see the good behind the bleak words (when there is some good) and focus on working harder to tighten up my writing.