This morning I’m late–it was a matter of either get the Kindergartner dressed for “Miss Match” day, or make my post.
Sorry Mamas. But, I know you understand!
Anyway, I got her dressed and ready. Polkadot mismatched knee-socks, striped shorts, checked top, funky hair bows, and mismatched, sequin shoes. She smiles a mile wide and says, “PERFECT! I don’t match AT ALL!” Here she is:
How amazing, that striving for imperfection made her day. Made me also think about criticism. Our inner critics as we race out the door in “mom-wear” – hat pulled down, sunglasses, and sweats – to get our kids to school or play-dates on time! And how much time we take ironing out our manuscripts before we get them ready for print.
So, take a moment and read through this post by my fellow critique partner, friend, and new Mama Author, Beverly Nault – as she dishes on Constructive Criticism, and how to handle a solid critique:
Reaping Results from the Group Critique – by Beverly Nault
Think of your critique group as a greenhouse. Whether infant or mature, each PLANT requires pruning and fertilizing, just like a story, article or scene. Follow these guidelines for an abundant HARVEST worthy of today’s market.
When you submit for critique:
Have Patience – only unwanted mushrooms grow overnight. Be ready to learn, it takes a discerning eye to identify weeds in the money crop. Even mature writers can learn a thing or two.
Listen – Babbling about your hours in the field wastes valuable time. Save chit-chat and seed swapping for later.
Accept advice and input. You waste everyone’s time if you don’t intend to glean wisdom.
Never argue, explain, or apologize. Let me explain. Briefly introduce the context, but if you defend or argue, you could have stayed home and read the ‘script to the chickens. Apologizing means you didn’t spend enough time checking for typos, errors, or other problems.
Take it all in. Some input you should take with a grain of salt, some you might take to heart. Consider all feedback, maybe your co-author has a point. Friends and family members, sometimes even busy editors, may not offer the honest perspective fellow authors will.
Now, grab your hoe, um, pen, and take a turn in someone else’s garden to prepare for the HARVEST. Here’s how to cultivate:
HELP by beginning with a positive comment about at least one, preferably several things, in the submission. Your remarks may inspire the author to develop a special technique or style. Also, you wouldn’t dump a truck load of fertilizer on a seedling, so try to measure out advice appropriate for each member’s readiness.
Agree and move on. If you concur with another’s remarks, say so, but keep it simple. For example; “I agree with Farmer Joe that dandelion patch needs work. Now about these boll weevils.”
Resist rewriting. Your style is different from everyone else’s, don’t try to clone. You should, however, suggest alternatives to clumsy or clichéd smaller sections. Also, resist asking questions; receivers should listen, not expound.
Value concept and content. It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law–freedom of speech, right? If the work is for a specific market, you can identify something that’s possibly offensive or that might alienate, but what others grow, er, write, is not your concern.
Explain only (and briefly) if you’re an expert or professional. Maybe you know more about the rare blooming titan arum than the average Jane and the piece mentions a second annual bloom. Gasp! Authors rely on valuable resources, and we should check each other’s facts and information whenever possible. That being said…
Stay focused. Following rabbit trails consumes precious time.
Thank other authors for presenting their precious cuttings and encourage them to return with another scene or revision for the next session. Nurture, nurture, nurture.
By sharing our own and reviewing each other’s creations, we gain knowledge, skill and the courage to plant seeds for a fruitful harvest. That rare titan arum? It only blooms once a year. When it does, it smells like rotting fish. Eww. No stinkers here please.