Have Egg on Your Baby’s Face? Get a Critique Partner!

Moonday Mania

a blog on writing

Free Stock Image - Adorable Baby GirlI’m back in the classroom again. Since last year all I’ve taken are marketing classes so I can learn to promote Little Red Riding Wolf in the most effective manner I can. But I’ve been avoiding craft classes. Why? Because I was digesting 2010’s immersion in Margie Lawson‘s techniques that culminated in heading up the mountain to her Deep Immersion Class. And boy did I need to digest.

But I’m ready for more, so I’m signed up for Margie’s new class, Fab 30. In this class not only does Margie add to her phenomenal previous classes with great lectures, she also critiques thirty pages of your WIP. And there’s more.

One of the side benefits is that you get to work with other Margie Grads. It’s a little daunting to post your pages for all and sundry to check out and critique, but it’s a fantastic experience. Each person picks up on different things. Some people pick up on story flow and some on the balance of dialogue versus action. I’m enjoying putting my work out there and getting comments. Well, most of the time.

I’m one of those people for whom long distance critiquing works well for. I get time to digest and yell at my computer before sending back a modified response. Well, after all, it is my baby! And no one likes to have their baby criticized.But as an author, I have to say, I think critique is necessary. Not only do others catch things like repeater words or repeated sentences. They also catch the nuances that you thought were understood. In other words, reader confusion.

As authors we don’t have reader confusion. We know what’s in our heads, and we think we’ve done a good job explaining our thoughts to the reader, but that’s not always so. An unbiased reader will catch all those issues. For a published author you hope your editor catches all those speed bumps, but for a pre-published author you don’t want an editor to even see them. You want to send out as polished a manuscript as possible. And lets’ face it, even published authors these days don’t want to scare off an editor with speed bumps.

Do I love reading corrections to my manuscript, no, but I do appreciate them. Every question mark, every comment, every ‘Uh-oh, I really didn’t get this!’ is helpful. Even if it isn’t what I want to hear, it’s what I need to hear. That’s why I’m back in class, loving every minute of it, even when it’s painful.

Bring it on!

Do you use a critique partner? What about a beta reader? How do you get feedback so you feel confident that you can send your baby out into the world without egg on it’s face?

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10 Comments

Filed under Moonday mania, writing craft

10 responses to “Have Egg on Your Baby’s Face? Get a Critique Partner!

  1. Taking writing courses rejuvenates me so I can relate. And I agree good criticism is a must but thick skin is even more important. I’m working on my own crocodile hide and hope to have it in another 20 years or so. Snort!

    • I’m terrible. I’m a terrier by nature, so I fight pretty hard at first. Then I take a deep breath, and a walk, and come back and take a second look. And they are usually right. Usually!

  2. Do I have a critique partner? You bet! Some of the best. And, you’re included in that number, Jessica.

    What I needed was a kick in the cabootie to get this manuscript finished. So, I signed up for FAB30, then wavered on jumping into the pool. Did I want to write forward or deep edit?

    Well, Margie’s energy coupled with on-line critique forced me to focus on ALL INN in a way I haven’t for months. I am now officially all in for FAB30–as soon as Margie and web guru Lisa work out my log-in issues.

    And, guess what? Surprise! Sherry invited me to join the critique group with her, you and Carole. I hope a foursome isn’t too overwhelming. You can take turns on mine if you want to.

    Do critiques still bug me? Not so much. They’re usually thunk on the noggin ‘duh’ moments. The only ones that truly get under my skin are the critiques that violate the Do No Harm rule.

    My voice is my voice. My story is my story. Tell me where you got lost, how I might have amped up a line, missed a back-load opportunity, overused a rhetorical device, had my character time-travel (in non paranormal), blew a character’s voice (EXAMPLE: had an alpha male call something teal). All good. All welcome.

    But, do not write a three page attachment telling me how I might rewrite the entire excerpt. Those are the ones that violate critique protocol.

    • WOOT! It’ll be like WooHoo U all over again! Wish you all were here though. 😦
      I completely agree, leave the voice alone. And sometimes it’s the author who has to say, this IS my voice. Even if it’s something the CP doesn’t like. I’ve had to do that. And with your very unique voice, I’m sure you have had to too!
      The other NO NO would be to make it personal. That can be very bad. I had a friend who got a contest critique back and the judge was insulting. No reason to do that either. But have no fear, we’re all friends here. I’ll make sure your alpha men stay men and your time-lines are impeccable!

  3. Ah, Jessica, where would my manuscript be were it not for you to point out that, hello, my description of the protag’s apartment, tho lovely, went on for a page and a half. BORING! Plus, because of my nattering on, the oh so subtle clue to friction I slid in for the reader’s subconscious information was completely lost. ACK.

    I owe ya! And I’m off to class with little red lunch kit right now. Soon as I’m finished dawdling at the blog stops along the way. Save me a seat!

    • Hey, you’ll have to save me a seat. I’m off to look at 10th graders papers. Fun!

      No worries, we all have our darlings. My recent one was a great line, but I’ve been informed one cannot control one’s blood. “She struggled not to bleed out.”
      Okay, I’m working on it. But I love the feel and the power in it. Unfortunately it’s an issue. Sad!

      And I’m so excited to be reading your next masterpiece! So different from what I’m writing and so exciting. Can’t wait to see how it rolls out!

  4. I think critique partners are vital. I’ve been with one group of 5 writers for 6 years now. You said it, Jessica, they help to point out where I’m not making myself clear, as well as generate some great brain-storming and for the longest time, helped me to just produce–I couldn’t show up
    empty-handed!

    • I hear a lot of writers go it alone, and I wonder who catches their mistakes. Especially the typos! And deep editing partners do so much more than that, they analyze from a Margie perspective, using a common language and common goals. That helps me out considerably. Obviously you are with a great group of CPs because five years is a milestone. Congrats!

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