Critique

I Don’t Have a Magic Wand So Don’t Expect Miracles…

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This isn’t me. I know, you’re shocked, right? LOL. My stomach has not been this flat since I was 8. And I’m definitely not rolling in enough money to have an office that looks like that. If I did, not gonna lie, I wouldn’t be getting much writing done. I’d be sniffing all the book interiors like a child of the 90’s huffing White Out.

This week we’re going to talk about common misconceptions about critique… for me, this is short and sweet. It comes down to one essential fact.

There are limits to a critique partner’s abilities!

Critique has the unique ability to both tear an author to shreds and build up their ego to mass proportions…often at the same time. It temps an author with a false sense of security.

It’s a misleading seductress…don’t fall for that shit!

Are you expecting miracles with the critique process? You think this means you can short change editing, skip beta reading, eschew a final read through with your own eyes?

Don’t tell yourself that lie.

  1. Critique is not a copy edit or a replacement for copy editing.
  2. Critique is not set in stone. It’s not all the right answers to the final exam.
  3. Critique is not a full reader perspective. Critique is not a replacement for a team of readers with different thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and life experiences.
  4. Critique is not a shortcut past all the other steps to polishing your work.

Critique is not line or copy editing. My focus as Jen’s critique partner is first and foremost story. We’re essentially developmental editors for one another and since we are, our focus is character and plot. We’re focused on wordsmithing the hell out of each chapter. In that process, we can’t also be focused on the technical aspects. After all, there’s a reason why there are different types of editors and why it’s always a good idea to hire different editors to do different types of editing. Fresh eyes for every level of correction. Don’t look for this from your critique partner. They make catch a few things here and there, but there’s no way in hell they’re catching everything. Hell, I have a BA in English Literature and still can’t master commas or proper dialogue punctuation. My verb tenses? A bloody nightmare. At this point, I would need rigorous training in order to even consider editing either punctuation or verb tense.

Critique is not set in stone. Jen’s opinion and commentary on my work, and mine on hers, is not the be all end all. It’s subjective. You take what advice resonates and leave the rest. If a comment resonates to a degree, but you don’t like your critique partner’s suggestion for how to fix it or change it, talk it out. It’s possible that the solution is somewhere in the back of your mind and by picking it apart together you’ll come up with a solution that fixes the issue, but is also a solution you’re comfortable with. It’s all pliable.

Critique is not the reaction all readers will have. Being an author changes how you read. Period. This colors our reaction to one another’s work. In order to get a true reader reaction…before publishing, of course, the story has to land in the hands of beta readers. Beta readers who are straight up readers and fans of the genre…in other words, don’t hand your chick lit or contemporary romance rom-com to an avid thriller reader. You won’t like the way it all turns out.

Critique is not a replacement for your own final read through. This really goes along with the editing. You have to read through your story one final time…after critique, after beta reading, after editing, and even after proofreading. There are no shortcuts in this. You’re the one who has it all riding on reader reaction. You’re the one with a fan base you don’t want to lose or maybe a fan base you’re trying to build. Don’t take shortcuts. Readers will notice. They’ll tell their friends. They’ll post it on social media. Worse, they’ll put down your book and never pick up another one you write. Can you afford to lose a loyal reader or a potential new one? No. None of us can.

Stay tuned for Jen’s take on the misconceptions of critique coming Monday!

One Comment

  • Jen Talty

    Sniffing white-out? I’m so old we sniffed ditto paper! Who remembers that smell? In 2nd grade actually couldn’t wait for the spelling test I was going to fail just to I could sniff that ditto paper. It was so fresh and made my eyes roll to the back of my head. Well, that’s not really possible, but the eyes, they did a roll.

    I totally digress. But I do that often.

    Totally agree with everything (but don’t tell Casey, we don’t want that shit going to her head!).

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