Monday, October 16, 2006


Listen carefully to first criticisms made of your work. Note just what it is about your work that critics don't like - then cultivate it. That's the only part of your work that's individual and worth keeping. ~ Jean Cocteau

A writing friend of mine, Dorice Nelson, posted on her blog about critiquing other writer's work. She expressed a frustration at people who submit obviously first draft material for nits, completel with wrong words, poor grammar and incorrect punctuation.

I feel her pain. Thankfully, she's posted some ideas on giving constructive criticism to folks. You should take a look.

I also have trouble with people who state clearly that they are writing to be published, sometimes even throwing names around like "Harlequin" or "NAL" or whatever... and then write their story in present tense (Mary walks down the street and takes her cell phone out) or worse, second person (You see Mary walk down the street and then you notice that she's taking her cell phone out).

And yet, when you suggest that mainstream publishers probably aren't going to accept the novel for publication, they're angry. Or insulted.

I know that, for me, it's sometimes hard when someone pokes at some brilliantly (or so you think) constructed scene. So I step back and I look through their suggestions for any truths (and typically, even in stuff I mostly disagree with, there are truths). And I never, ever, ever respond in anger, annoyance or frustration. That person took time away from their precious writing time (or time with their family or whatever) to give me their thoughts. They deserve a medal, not my temper.

I'm so grateful for my critiquing friends. I can't imagine writing without them to slap me around.

Remember -- if you're doing NaNo, let me know. I'm going to create a list of blogging crazies who are documenting their NaNo journey, and keep a link to you on this blog through November. Just leave me a comment (and make sure your profile is linked to your blog address).

Have a great day!

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