Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

    **MATERIAL ON THIS SITE IS COPYRIGHT PROTECTED. For permission on reprints or reusing this material, please contact the individual authors. For sharing the actual post, please use the share buttons.

  • Blog Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 87,337 hits
  • RSS April’s Blog: A Writer’s Journey

    • Chicken and Waffles
      It’s been such a crazy-busy, crazy-fun week that I almost missed a week of A-Z! But never fear, the letter C is here.C as in chicken and waffles, Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles to be exact.My daughter turned eleven this week, and to celebrate we spent a couple days in Atlanta with her Mamaw doing girlie stuff, like eating yummy food (because only girls […]
      noreply@blogger.com (April Gardner)
  • RSS Barn Door Book Loft

    • A Warm Welcom to Beth Wiseman
      It's a real pleasure to welcome Beth Wiseman to our site today! Welcome, Beth!Is there a story behind your book The Promise? Yes.  A remarkable story that is very close to my heart.  The Promise is inspired by actual events.  Someone close to me (we are calling her Laurie) traveled to Pakistan, married a man there, and was ultimately held captive.  I ha […]
    • The Promise by Beth Wiseman
      Back Cover Blurb:Mallory’s search for happiness leads her to a faraway place. There she finds heartache, betrayal--and danger.  Can the only man she’s ever loved rescue her before it’s too late?Mallory Hammond is determined not to let her boyfriend, parents, or anyone else get in the way of her #1 goal--to save a life.  She had that chance when she was a tee […]
    • A Blizzard Full Of Book Winners
      Once again, we offer you a warm welcome to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft.And before we announce these eight winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to:Raelee May Carpenter who offered her Young Adult book: The Lincoln High Project. Misty M. Beller who offered her Historical Romance The Lady and the Mountain Man. Virginia Tenery who offered her […]
  • RSS Clash of the Titles

    • September New Releases Clash
      Welcome to the September clash!!Five new books for your bookshelf this month! From suspense to humor, these books are the newest addition to CBA. Which one lands at the top of your to-be-read pile? Based on what you see below, please choose the book that grabs you--the one you'd read first. Cast your vote below and help bring one book to the top of the […]
    • Announcing the 2014 Laurel Award Winner!
      2014 LAUREL AWARD WINNERAuthor Ruth Reid's novel A MIRACLE OF HOPEis the winner of Clash of the Titles's fourth annual Laurel Award.CONGRATULATIONS, RUTH!Ruth will receive the following: a beautiful banner to display on her website; a year-long page on COTT dedicated to the winning book, A Miracle of Hope; a "Heart of the Matter" radio in […]
    • ANNOUNCING THE LAUREL FINALISTS!
      The entries have been read and the scores have been tallied. Our unique panel of judges, comprised strictly of readers, has determined our three finalists. And they are…Ruth Reid's A Miracle of HopeJune Foster's Deliver UsCarole Brown's The Redemption of Caralynne HaymanCongratulations to all three!!(Of special note, this is Ruth's second […]
  • RSS Little Bits Blog

    • Are You Teachable?
      What? You think you know everything? I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news but no one knows everything. Oh, there is one, Hashem. He's omniscient. But no one else is. Even Yeshua (Jesus) isn't. He doesn't know the hour or day he will come again. Some people rejoice in learning something new. I tend to be one of those people. I read about […]
    • Too Blessed To Be Stressed
      I’m pretty addicted to computer games. There have been a number, over the years, I have enjoyed. Right now I’m playing Zynga’s Castleville Legends. I’m in an alliance of ladies who play and help each other. It’s a generous,  supporting group with a fair number of believers. We encourage each other and have a lot of fun. The ladies are from all over the US, p […]
    • 12 Reasons to Live in a Small Town
      Living in small towns has special challenges and delights. When I say ‘small’ I mean ‘small’. The town I live near has approximately 250 people. The county seat has 3600 and the county has about 16,000. So this is rural America. You might think this county was in the western states where the population is lower and space is not a problem. No, I live in Illin […]
  • RSS Living Our Faith Out Loud

    • From Now On, with Susan A. Royal
      Remember, friends, MuseItUp is a Canadian publisher, so some Queen's English rules apply.Introducing Susan A. Royal, a fellow MuseItUp Publishing author, to talk about her new book,From Now OnAbout the Book:     Griffin has traveled across centuries to reunite with the woman he loves, but he and Erin may not get their ‘happy ever after’. Not if Lady Iso […]
    • Book Review Desperate Dreams by Kim McMahill
      Desperate Dreams: Deadly ExodusKim McMahillc. 2012Prism Book GroupISBN: 978-0984764587Price 3.9911.99Buy on AmazonBuy on Barnes and NobleSet in the scary near-future, Desperate Dreams is a dystopian story about a state-controlled society attempting to reduce crime and corruption by moral bankruptcy.McMahill tells the story of four teens plotting to rebel aga […]
    • World Wide Blog Hop and High Stakes WIP
      I'm pleased to follow Cherie Burbach in a World Wide Blog Hop.Cherie posted here last week: http://workingwritersandbloggers.com/2014/10/17/world-wide-blog-hopWhat am I working on?I'm currently at work on a project that follows my 2010 award-winning novel, Meander Scar. The story takes place in that year, and I wish I had been taking better notes a […]
  • RSS Nearly Brilliant

    • Book Giveaway: The Beckoning by Michael Minot
      In celebration of Michael Minot's new book, The Beckoning, Nearly Brilliant is giving away one copy of the book (print or ebook, winner's choice). To enter, leave a comment below with your email stating why you'd like to win a copy. Here's more about the book and the author.Several years after graduating from law school, Michael Minot dis […]
    • Free and Discounted Kindle Book Deals
      Don't miss this special promo for free and discounted book deals on Kindle Books and TipsThe Treasure Seeker: The Quest to Find God, Spiritual Intimacy and Value is just .99For more freebies and deals, sign up for their ezine. www.fkbooksandtips.com 
    • BOOK REVIEW: THE BECKONING BY MICHAEL MINOT
      Michael Minot, a lawyer, is a former atheist who now follows Christ. The Beckoning is not only his story regarding how his beliefs changed but an orderly and methodical account of how the methods he applied to find authentication and proof of God’s validity as he conducted research of the scriptures.While still single, Minot was challenged by a Christian fri […]
  • BLOG NEWS

    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at http://authorculture.blogspot.com; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, http://www.aprilgardner.com and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at http://www.janetperezeckles.com, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
  • Second Monday: Sophie Dawson

  • Tuesdays – Promotion in Motion

  • Wednesdays: Life of a Writer – April & Positivity – Lisa Lickel

  • Thursdays – Luther’s on board

  • Fridays – Revolutionary Faith, Devotions by Elaine

  • Saturdays – Janet Perez Eckles

  • Sunday – Reflections Book Reviews

  • Blog Authors

  • The Barn Door

  • The Barn Door Book Loft. Free Books! Book Giveaways.

  • John 3:16 Marketing Network widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info)>

Critiques: Friend or Foe?

Posted by Ben Erlichman on December 29, 2011

Writers fear rejection more than anything else (in my opinion). That rejection can come in lots of forms and will likely show up at multiple points in your career as a writer. You can’t avoid it.

Even best-selling authors get bad reviews on their work. Jim Rubart, best-selling author of Rooms, Book of Days, and The Chair, has a total of 305 reviews for Rooms on Amazon.com. Of those reviews, 89 are 1-star ratings (the worst), and 134 are 5-star ratings (the best). I know Jim fairly well (for only seeing him once a year at the annual ACFW Conference) and have had the privilege of listening to him speak at that conference a couple of times about marketing. One of the best things I gleaned from his talks was that it’s better to have people either really love your writing or really hate it because that means you’ve achieved the goal every writer is shooting for: you’ve inspired a strong emotional response in your reader.

Critiques can be helpful tools in getting you to that point, but frankly, they suck sometimes. As writers, we put ourselves out there. We empty our souls onto the page on a regular basis. That’s often a very messy process. Critiques help to clean up that mess so others can read it without cringing at our excessive use of adverbs or other goofs while creating our first draft.

Here’s my typical process for writing as far as critiques are concerned:

1. I do my pre-writing work (includes research, outlining, writing synopses, etc.)

2. I write the book

3. I edit the book at least once on my own (probably no more than twice, though)

4. I send it to someone I trust for a first peer critique

5. I implement the changes I like from the critique

6. I send it out for a second critique (either to the same person or to a different one, or sometimes both)

7. I implement the new changes from the second critiques

8. I write a book proposal and try to sell the thing.

More or less, that’s my plan. I’ve got a novella, Lions and Serpents, that I just got a line-by-line critique back from a good friend of mine. I haven’t looked at it yet, but we discussed it on Facebook chat for a bit and he gave me some overarching thoughts.

In short, he said that a big chunk of the story after a certain point really slowed down and wasn’t as enjoyable to read since not much was happening–the characters were all just plotting how to proceed next instead of just doing it. He also said my characterizations weren’t consistent in the two main characters, Paul and Marty. Also, my minor characters (mostly the evil henchmen) all seemed kind of bland and boring. On top of all of that, he thinks I may have invoked a form of Deus Ex Machina at the end (which I kind of disagree with, but I can see his point).

In other words, it stung to hear some of those things. Most of those things.

But that’s part of the process of making your work stronger, of making it more appealing to your target audience. It certainly is part of making your work more “publishable” through traditional mediums, as professional editors have responsibilities to their respective publishing houses, who need to make money off of your work. Sometimes you just have to do things their way, and a good critique can help you get closer to providing them with something that they not only can use, but also want.

As with all criticism in life, eat the lollipop but not the stick. In other words, apply the constructive criticism that you think will help your piece get better, and ignore the stuff you disagree with. I guarantee that I won’t implement every change my critique partner suggested, but I will use most of it because I trust his judgment and know that he’s trying to help. Ultimately it’s my story and I’ll do what I want to do with it.

Another thing to look out for is negative criticism. If you’re eating an apple and run across a big bruise, you don’t eat the bruised part, right? Eat around it. Get back to the stuff that tastes good and is nourishing you. Same with critiques or reviews: if someone says you’re a horrible writer because your characters are shallow and your plot has no structure so you should probably never write again, what good can you take out of something so negative? Well, ignore the insults and the meanness and get the actual critique content out of there: you need to work on plot structure and character development.

Don’t be afraid of critiques. They’re a good way to put your work out there just a little bit, and hopefully to receive some constructive feedback while you’re at it. Send it to someone you trust to be honest and give you a helpful review of your work. Doing this will help you develop a thick skin for when you finally do get published and someone writes a scathing review of your work that makes you want to crawl into a cave and hide forever. Go ahead, give it a shot.

-Ben

About these ads

4 Responses to “Critiques: Friend or Foe?”

  1. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav) said

    Critiques: friend or foe? Yes. ;) Helpful, right? :P (I mean my answer – yours was just what it should be.)

    Steven King’s memoirs as a writer may be a classic case in point. There are aspects of it which (were I a published reviewer – yes, I know, I can always review the book on Amazon.com) I’d like to nuke until they glow and then shoot in the dark. :P And yet there are other aspects which show just how well he knows the art, craft and business of writing – which is extremely so. Even if one does a perfect job in every aspect, it’s going to be read and reviewed by imperfect people and even if it pleased God and all the righteous angels, it’s still not going to please all human beings. Now there’s a perspective that might be helpful to keep in mind. :D

  2. Don Bemis said

    My wife critiques my manuscripts before they go out the door. She’s literate, honest, and willing to play the critic’s role. She has an eagle’s eye for overused words and expressions. It’s galling to hear that one of my great lines is indecipherable or not half as good as I thought it was, but I have to remind myself that if she doesn’t get it, neither will the next reader. I usually act on her comments. A simple change of phrase or a different word often will clean things up.
    My wife is also my greatest supporter.

  3. I cannot function as a writer without at least 3 thorough crit partners. And I want them to be brutal. It used to hurt, but now I say, “Bring it on!”

  4. Good post! And good thoughts.
    It’s so important to get feedback, and often times it’s even more important to get it from the right source. There are so many styles, and so many individual preferences, that one person’s magnum opus is another’s total junk. So, finding the people you’re trying to write to is uber-important.
    Of, course, you must know who you’re writing to, first. And that’s another story!
    Thanks for posting!
    Elizabeth Kaiser

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,245 other followers

%d bloggers like this: