21 May 2010

getting critique is tough

We Electric Spec editors have been hard at work on the new issue, so sorry for the dearth of blog posts lately. On the plus side, the new issue looks fabulous! It's not self-serving for me to say that, is it? :)

Anyway as you all know, I strongly recommend writers have critique groups/critique partners. I do want to make that point again, as we start to go through slush again. Something I haven't mentioned here, however, is: getting critique is tough. I fully admit that. It's tough having someone say 'this passage doesn't make sense to me' or 'your protagonist isn't effective here' or whatever. The expression "kill your darlings" didn't arise out of a vacuum. Sometimes an author's favorite bit is the part that doesn't work.

The question an author has to ask is: Does my critique partner want me to succeed as an author? Or does he/she have their own agenda? If your partner doesn't want you to succeed, you should dump him/her. No question. If your partner has your best interests at heart, however, maybe you need to grow a thicker skin. As literary agent Nathan Bransford said this week on his blog Every Writer Gets Rejected. And it's not once, it's dozens and dozens of times!

Being a writer is tough. No doubt about it.
But if you don't keep writing and trying to get better, you can't succeed/continue to succeed, right?
What do you think?


Kat Heckenbach said...

When I first started writing, I had no access to a critique partner. But I do have a best friend who is intelligent, well-read, and sucks at lying. So, when I sent my first few chapters to her for honest feedback, she gave it to me :). My first instinct was to ball up, cradling my baby in my arms. But the desire to be a better writer quickly won out.

The thing is, critique is hard to take. But it does get easier. And it is ABSOLUTELY necessary if you want to improve.

David Hughes said...

Good point, Lesley. Serious writers need to be tough-skinned. That toughness pays on in the end!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

And I've learned to develop a tough skin... :D

Catherine Stine said...

I have been in more than one critique group over the years, and have found that there is a very fine line between a reader giving you great yet harsh comments and a reader going too far in being harsh with unconscious but real hostility for whatever reason (usually having nothing to do with you).

I have learned from this, and am now very discriminating in who I workshop with. I want someone who can pick out glitches and flaws, but who also can slather on the praise when it is well-deserved.

By the way, I like your blog! Just found it today. I have written a YA spec fiction, and love the inventiveness of the genre.

Betsy Dornbusch said...

Thanks Catherine!

I agree. The line between harshness and hostility can be very fine. And agreed on praise. Some people think praise is a waste of time, but it's important that we know when we did well, too.

One thing that helps me is to know that I don't have to take the suggestions. But then, I'm lucky, I've got critters who really act like they want me to succeed. :)