Wednesday, May 4, 2011

That dreaded moment before the critique

Every writer has the dreaded moment when they receive an email containing the critique of someone they asked to read their story. It's a horrifying moment where time stand stills and all you can see is red ink dripping down the pages of your baby. But keep in mind three things and hopefully when the time comes to see what another has to say the fear won't lock you up and prevent you from moving forward with your story.
  1. Step back away from the edits and get the anguish over seeing even a little red out.
  2. I don't have to listen to the suggestions.
  3. If I really didn't want help, I wouldn't have asked others to read it.
Once I get around these walls the suggestions are easier to bear. I don't feel like crying or becoming a raging alcoholic. I heard one writer say that he was pretty sure not a single sentence from his first draft was the same as the final. I can believe it.

Seeing the red has made me wonder though. After handing my story out to people to crit and send back, how much of my story is my story? Is my voice getting lost in another? That's something no author wants. It put a knot in my stomach I have to untie. I have to remind myself of those three little things I put in bold above. Step away from the suggestions and take a break, maybe even vent a little about how difficult editing can be. As long as I tread carefully I can find my voice among the suggestions; bring it to the front to shout loudly as my story becomes even stronger.


  1. At first I thought, like you, that my own voice was going to be lost. As time has gone on, I've realised that my critique partner's advice has helped me to strengthen my voice, not lose it.
    Paula Martin’s Potpourri

  2. Like your friend you mentioned above, not a single sentence of mine was the same from the first draft to the last draft. To be honest, the whole story was different - I went from two narrators to one, I lost characters, I changed the ending, and I changed the tone of my novel.

    I was a sobbing mess when I read my first critique. The feedback wasn't easy to stomach and I fought for my original words. But after I stepped away from the edits and returned (much later) to my baby, I realized how much I needed the edit and how much it improved my MS.

    Everyone has different opinions and reads things differently, but the bottom line is: this is your MS. You have to do what feels comfortable. If that means ignoring your editor or beta reader and going with your original text, or using some/half/all of their comments.

    The writing/editing process isn't easy. Usually, it takes several drafts before a novel is in its best shape. And even then, readers find fault. I've never seen a novel on Amazon with 100, 5-star reviews. As long as you're proud and satisfied with your novel - that's all that really matters! :)

  3. if your voice is lost in the words of read may be what was said is not being heard so you rewrite it make it stronger, more alive more colorful but keep writing with your voice. if i said hi and you said what, i might say how do you do. great post and good advice. thank you and god bless

  4. I can currently only imagine sending my word to others to crit. I imagine it's hard and I know I am going to have to learn a thick skin.

    Don't take it all to heart. Remember, people can only go on their own personal experiences and our loci are all different. So it doesn't always mean there was a problem. I Think the rule is if one person mentions it then it's them, if more than one, then it's worth having a look and working on that bit longer.