My best friend of more than 30 years was one of the first people to read a draft of my manuscript. I packaged all 299 pages in an envelope, mailed them 1,500 miles to her home and then chewed my nails ragged while I waited for her response.
I stalled for what I considered the proper amount of time. And then finally I couldn’t bear it any longer. I picked up the phone and dialed her number.
“Soooo…what did you think?” I blurted when she answered. I tried not to sound desperate and sweaty. “Do you like the book? Have you finished it? What do you think so far? Seriously, you can tell me the truth. I mean it!”
Silence lay heavy, like a suffocating blanket suddenly strewn over the vast plains between us .
“Well…” She hesitated. A dull ache began to gnaw in the pit of my stomach.
“Well…to be honest, I, um, I put it down, and I’m having trouble picking it back up again,” she offered quietly.
“What? What?! Are you kidding me? You’re having trouble picking it back up again? What does that mean? Are you saying my book is boring or something?! What, like Reader’s Digest boring? Like Henry James boring? Like iphone manual boring?!”
I didn’t actually say those things aloud, of course. My actual response went more like this:
Deep, shaky exhale.
“Okay, so tell me more. What exactly is the problem? Can you be more specific? Which part is bogging you down? Does it go awry at any particular point, or is the whole thing giving you trouble?”
During that difficult conversation I learned that Andrea had enjoyed a lot of the manuscript, especially the anecdotes, which comprised the meat of the memoir. But when she got to the sections that delved into Biblical instruction, she lost interest.
I give her credit for her honesty and courage. Although Andrea knew exactly how important this writing endeavor was to me and exactly how insecure and fearful I was, she told the hard truth because she knew in the long run that it was important that I hear it. (Granted, she could have phrased it a bit more delicately. Then again, I did hound her like a salivating Saint Bernard).
But I admit, it was a hard truth to swallow. And even though we had a fruitful and constructive conversation, and she didn’t deem the whole book an abysmal failure, when I got off the phone that afternoon I felt a weight on my chest like a stack of crumbling bricks. What’s more, I didn’t take her advice – I made none of the changes she suggested.
The funny thing was, in the end, she was right.
A year later, when I paid a professional editor to review my manuscript, guess what he advised? That’s right: he suggested I cut all the instructional sections woven into the book because they “interrupted the flow of the story.” And later, when Rachelle Gardner accepted me as client, she admitted that the book wouldn’t have appealed to her, had it included all the Biblical analysis and instruction.
Andrea had been spot-on in her observations, and she had been honest, courageous and diplomatic in her critique. The real problem was that I simply hadn’t been ready to listen.
Let’s chat: How do you decide who critiques early drafts of your writing? Have you ever received a negative critique from a friend? How do you balance a critiquer’s opinion with your own ideas? How do you know when you are ready to have your writing critiqued?
68 Replies to “The Tough Critique”
Great question, Michelle. For a long time, I had a hard time not listening to absolutely EVERYONE and letting anyone with a critical thought have a say in what I’m writing, so I have learned to be more selective about who reads my stuff and at what stages. Only those who get my style and tolerate my voice get the first crack. Then when I’ve nailed what I am aiming for in the work, I show it to a few more. I have close trusted writing partners now as well as a larger once a month critique group made up of various genre writers, but that one is more of a class where we learn from each and and most of all, from our illustrious leader, The Snowflake Guy. Anyway, now that I have a book actually coming out, I figure it’s time to let the whole world have at it, there’s not much I can do about what they like or don’t like about it now. This is where I really decide how thick a skin I have developed. Er… am developing.
I think you’re ready to be critiqued when you 1. feel sure about your style and voice, 2. need feedback, 3. Are willing to test the thickness of your skin and know enough not to take criticism personally. Also: 4. Know the difference between nay-sayers and discerning readers. There’s a tough balance between being truly teachable and being tossed by every opinion that comes along. I’m still wobbling on that balance beam sometimes. But I know with time and lots more writing,
…that I will finish a comment. Someday.
I meant to say with time, the balance comes, and the ability to take what you need and discard the rest becomes clearer.
Really good tips, Camille. And your last point is an especially good one. It did take more time, and a professional edit, for me to realize that a lot of what she said was right on the money.
I finished my book and really liked it. I sent it to a friend of mine. She’s a teacher, so she’s used to grading papers. She is also an avid reader of the genre I wrote for. She loved the book with a few suggestions. After I got up the nerve, I gave it to another friend of mine. She wrote me back and told me my hero was a wuss. I was crushed. That was completely not what I was going for. After a few days I took her comments and went back to them. Sure enough, he was a wishy-washy wuss. Rewrite number four commenced and now he is a strong confidant man. Thanks God for honest friends!
The process does get really interesting when you get conflicting opinions. What I didn’t mention in this story was that my other early reader, my sister, loved the parts my friend found boring. She insisted I keep the instructive, theological stuff in there. So I was really caught in the middle…and I didn’t have the experience, nor did I trust myself enough, to make a decision. That’s why it was great to have a professional editor in the process later.
You’re lucky to have such a good friend. Honest critiques are hard to come by, especially if you go to friends or family. My mother gave me a great piece of advice that I still use to this day – A little fear goes a long way. Choose someone who you both admire, but also are a little afraid of when it comes to reading your work. That person will most likely be the most honest. It’s worked out for me a few times and I have a better manuscript because of it. 🙂
I liked your mom’s advice — and some of my later readers were exactly that: writers who I admired, but who also intimidated me a litle bit!
Thanks, Michelle, for your vulnerability in order to help others learn. After reading and/or hearing several author friends go through similar situations, I decided to send my first writing attempt to a professional editor (even though she’s a friend). I went in expecting to hear the tough truth – and let her know that up front. I really believe having that mindset right off the bat made all the difference when we finally met to go over what I had submitted to her. Thanks again for a great post!
You were smart to give yourself that tough love pep talk before heading into the critique process! And to work with a professional editor, too — I wrote about that experience recently over at Rachelle’s place…it made a HUGE difference!
Michelle, LOL at Henry James boring! I had to read a boatload of novels before my qualifying exams in grad school–spent a lot of time in a reclining chair that summer reading, sleeping, reading, sleeping. When I got to Portrait of a Lady, I remember thrashing around in the chair in a kind of mortal agony that I later described as “that long, dark, Portrait-of-a-Lady night of the soul.”
What’s funny is that when I later read Wings of the Dove, I didn’t mind it nearly as much–quite liked some parts of it. Nothing, repeat nothing, has ever been written that has quite the depressing power of Portrait of a Lady. And that is the sign of a master. 😉
What’s true of reviews is also true of pre-pub critiques: you have to look for any persistent, repeated comments to see if there’s an issue that needs fixing, perhaps in future work. And that’s just what you’ve noted here, at the end of your post!
Love your description of Portrait of a Lady! I had to admit though, I kind of enjoyed Wings of the Dove. But overall, HJ is torture!
And yes, persistent, repeated comments. Just one or two may be subjective…but when you start to see a pattern in the feedback, it’s a red flag. Good point!
When I first began writing, I craved feedback. I entered 36 contests in a one-year period, with each entry seen by 2-3 preliminary round judges who commented on my masterpiece, er, florescent green newbie attempts at novels. That’s a LOT of feedback.
Like Camille, I tried to implement everything the judges said. The trouble was that I didn’t know enough to determine which comments were on target and which weren’t.
In time, I found two talented critique partners who give me top-notch feedback. In fact, I wouldn’t be contracted today had I not had the benefit of their wise counsel. A critique partner can be one of the most valuable members of a writer’s Dream Team. I’m exceedingly grateful for my CPs.
Oh my word, Keli — 36 contests in one year?! You are driven — or glutton for punishment? 🙂
I need to find a couple of critique partners. How does one go about doing that, by the way? How did you find yours?
Michelle, I wrote a series of posts on critique partnerships in which I talk about how to find critique partners and how I found mine. You can find the links here.
I was picturing the scene from Little Women, when Jo wraps up her manuscript and sticks it under the door of her friend. And then when he tells her the truth.
I only write for my blog . . . if my daughters like what I wrote, then I like it. 🙂
Thanks for a great post, Michelle.
Thanks for stopping by, Glenda — so happy to see you here!
I know I’m ready when I can’t stand to look at my manuscript a minute longer!! I trust my critique partners, but truthfully, by the time I feel a manuscript is ready to submit, I think they’ve seen the darn thing way too many times to be subjective! Sure, they may like the story, but it feels like a lot to ask to have them read an entire manuscript. Again. 🙂
I will usually try to find another experienced writer friend who hasn’t seen the story, might have time to read and later if it’s picked up, provide an endorsement. Or I’ll go through it a few times again myself. If I still feel it’s not quite there, I’ll use a freelance editor – I’ve done this a couple of times and their feedback is invaluable.
At the end of the day though, one person’s opinion may differ vastly from another’s. Even a seasoned author may miss things an editor might pick up on. I also value my agent’s opinion over everyone else’s. But I don’t like to waste her time either so of course I want to feel like my manuscript is pretty much good to go by the time I send it to her. It’s a tightrope for sure – hold your breath and hope for the best!!
These are such great points. My crit partners are so varied in what they write and what they like–and their life philosophies so different from mine–that I sometimes wonder. But I’ve also found that almost any critique can offer something useful. I do look forward to the day when I find partners who write the same kind of things I do–but in the meantime, I value the perspectives of people who are coming from wildly different philosophical places, too. It’s just harder to sort through, that’s all.
I can totally relate, Kathleen. Although my early critiquers were both very well-read, neither had read any (or much) Christian literature. So I think part of my friend’s reaction to the theological stuff was simply because it just wasn’t up her alley. That said, I knew I was also trying to write for a broader audience, not necessarily just Christian, so her feedback told me that I might be alienating exactly the readers I was trying to attract.
Since those early days I have met a couple of writers online who both graciously read my manuscript and provided feedback. It was so helpful to have their fresh eyes, and they were both much farther along in the journey than I was (one had just published her first book).
Great advice, Cathy — thank you!
Oops, sorry Cathy — I replied in the wrong spot to your comment!
Since those early days I have met a couple of writers online who both graciously read my manuscript and provided feedback. It was so helpful to have their fresh eyes, and they were both much farther along in the journey than I was (one had just published her first book).
Great advice, Cathy — thank you!
I’m working up (my nerve) to have my novel reviewed by a professional editor. I haven’t given it to anyone to read yet and am still working on some self-editing, but I think the time is about right to have more professional eyes critique it. There are some parts that I’m not sure about and feel like they need help. What scares me is that there are some parts that I think are really, really good, and I keep thinking, “what if those are the parts they hate?”.
You really can make yourself crazy here, can’t you? 🙂
Sherri, I feel your pain. Writing is such a personal, vulnerable process — you spill yourself onto the page, and then offer it to someone to critique. It takes a lot of courage, doesn’t it? But you can do it, friend — just know that the criticism is offered to help, and that in the end, it will make you a stronger writer, and your manuscript a more publishable piece. Good luck!
Receiving a critique reminds of Proverbs 27:6, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Ooooooh, I like that, Peter. Thank you!
Michelle, I applaud your courage in sending a paper copy across the country. Words look different on paper–solid and unmoving. No wonder you were nervous!
I think it helps to really know your critiquer. I have three I am blessed to call not only fabulous CPs, but friends…honest friends, the kind who will tell you when you have spinach between your teeth. I usually rewrite a scene per their suggestions just to see how it works. Most of the time, they’re right on.
It’s hard to separate the words on the page from who we are as writers, and even as people. At first, “this scene is not working” sounds like, “Why did you ever dream of writing? You stink. And when I say stink, I mean really stink. Like a block of moldy, three year old cheese.” I had to get to the point where “this scene isn’t working” meant “this scene isn’t working.” 🙂 Once you get there, the road is much, much easier.
Thank you for your input, Gwen. And you are so right…it DID help that I knew my critiquer well. I was positive she wasn’t just being harsh for the sake of it, but because she wanted me to succeed in the end. I totally trusted her.
And what you said about separating ourselves from who we are on the page — such good advice. I’ve had a hard time with that, in part because I write personal narrative and memoir. So I do sometimes feel like a critique of my words and my style are also a critique of my life, beliefs and choices. It’s been a challenge to draw that imaginary line between the two!
Michelle, there’s so much merit in your post! I love the way you spilled your heart to share and encourage others waiting for those knuckling critiques. When I entered my first contest, I was crushed by the feedback. After all, my words were golden. They just didn’t get it. Stupid published authors, anyway…what did they know? Then I met someone who measured me for my alligator skin and told me the truth bluntly. Ouch! But her words forced me to write better. She was affectionately called Dragon Lady. I worked hard for her praise. When I sold my first book, she was rejoicing with me. Even though my mentors have changed and my critique partners are a valuable part of my writing team, I’ll never forget her toughness that helped me to become a better writer.
Ooooh, I love the Dragon Lady — she sounds scary! I admire your perseverance, Lisa. I think I would have crumpled into a pathetic, self-pitying heap had I been faced with some really tough criticism. (Although, on second thought, implying that my book was boring was pretty tough to swallow!).
What a great friend to be willing to say that to you.. and make your ms better! I kind of wish my critique partners were more “harsh” with me… sometimes they say “it’s great” when I know it could get better. As hard as those words are to hear, they’re helpful.
I have several “great job!” critiquers, too. Sometimes I need to hear exactly that, just to get my head above water and my confidence out of the ditch. But you’re right…sometimes you really do need more than the atta girl.
Through time I’ve learned who I work well with concerning critiques. I happen to like a lot of red marks…shows the reader is paying attention & invested.
I had to be gut honest w/ myself on a ms about a year ago. I think it was my fifth novel. I loved the characters, but the plot didn’t come together. I just stuck a bunch of intriguing people into a scenerio I thought would work, but it didn’t. I knew this after reading the first chapter and I never poured in the time to edit that one. I simply moved on to the next project because I knew that particular novel would take a rewrite and then some.
Thankfully when negative feedback comes at me, I’ve found it also to be extremely constructive.
Maybe there will be an opportunity to resurrect those intriguing characters in a future novel, Wendy!
Love this post. I have a crit partner, and an ideal reader. My CP and IR usually get the work first, and despite Stephen King’s advice to the contrary (from his book On Writing), I can never wait until it is COMPLETE to send it to either of them. I’ve had tough critiques, and I’ve learned to swallow them down without crying too hard, but admit sometimes it still stings, at least at first.
A few years ago, I had the honour of studying with a NYT Bestselling author – his feedback almost destroyed me. More red pen than I’d ever seen in my life! But I’m a MUCH stronger writer because of it. Now I kind of crave the feedback – and the red pen.
I loved Stephen King’s book “On Writing” — just read that one this summer.
I had another person in the business tell me my writing was “okay” and that he didn’t think I had developed a voice yet. I cried over those assessments for two days straight. Who wants to hear the words they’ve labored over for months and months described as “Okay?” It was a low moment. In the end, though, I decided he was wrong, and that he’d dashed off an email a little too quickly. I guess time will tell on that one!
I started getting feedback on my current wip before I finished it. I wanted to know if what I had was worth pursuing in the way I had it. And I started with people close to me, thinking that they might sugarcoat… as soon as the manuscript left my hands, though, I knew I didn’t want that sugarcoating after all. I was apparently ready. My mother, of all people, gave me honest feedback. WOW. LOVED that she did. My sister-in-law became my continual crit reader. Hardest person to have read at first? My husband. As soon as I discovered I could take his feedback, I knew I was in business. And his is great because it offers the male perspective.
Now that my first polished draft is complete, I have been having very different readers take a look at it, although they are still people I know. Final draft will go to a couple of impartial editors.
And now? I love the feedback… and sometimes laugh at it. There is a scene in my novel that a friend left angry comments… she did NOT like how the characters were reacting to the situation. Did it crush me? Nope. I took in some of what she was saying, balanced it against what I thought should be, and now I still giggle every time I see those comments of hers. So true that without conflicting feedback, there can be no growth.
So glad you shared this experience.
I love that you laugh at your friend’s marginal notes!
And yes, I agree: conflicting feedback can prompt you to take a close look at thoese words and really try to figure out if they are working or not. Sometimes we have to follow our instincts. Sometimes we have to swallow our pride (and fear) and realize that changes need to be made!
Thanks for stopping by…and good luck on your work in progress!
Great post. I am in the critique doldrums at the moment. After positive feedback from family and writing friends, I found someone to do a critique swap with, thinking I would just be ticking the box for a crit from someone without an emotional connection with me and the feedback would be much the same.
Instead, she found the MC passive and unrelatable, and thought I should cut out half a dozen scenes. I felt like someone had just pulled the plug and let all my air out. The worst thing is that it made me doubt the people who had told me they loved it. I wasn’t ready for that feeling, and I’m still in a sort of limbo where I try to decide what to do next.
I’m so sorry, Rosie. You know what, though? She may not be right. Try handing off the ms to another critiquer and see what happens. If that person has similar issues, you may have to face the hard truth that your loved ones and writing friends may not have been completely honest. But remember, writing is subjective — so there is the possibility that this one person simply didn’t like it as much as your other readers. And that’s okay, too. I’m sure you don’t love everything you read. And books you might love and recommend to others might not get the same reaction from them.
Hang in there…it’s a bumpy road…and I’m right there with you on it!
*bites nails* tough subject. Sore spot. I personally haven’t had the experience you have had–I wish I had. I don’t have friends who know anything about what makes a story work for them or why; they can’t tell me to rework a character who seems lacking or contradictory. I do have friends who can spot a comma error in 5.2 seconds though. That’s helpful. Just not what I need the most. I feel like I’m ready for fresh, critical eyes to look at my WIP and tell me what’s not working or how I can improve it….said the girl whose never been through it.
Alas, I have searched for critique groups in my area–which I will be joining. I’ll let you know how I feel when I actually get the feedback I’m looking for.
Thanks for your comment, Kyla — I’m sorry that you’re at a frustrating point in the process.
I don’t know if we can always expect our critiquers to offer that kind of response. My friend couldn’t tell me exactly why she put the ms down and was uninspired to pick it back up until I pressed her with questions. Then we realized together that it was the theological stuff that bogged her down. We can’t always put our finger on why something is not working for us.
That said, a professional editor that you pay to review your ms should be able to point very specifically to areas that need improvement, why those parts have gone astray, and a possible solution(s) for the problem. Sometimes it’s worth the money, depending on where you are in the process and what your publishing expectations/hopes are, to pay someone for that kind of analysis.
Good luck, Kyla!
Very helpful information – thanks, Michelle. I am at an impasse in my book. I really need someone to read it at this point (I’m about a third of the way through), and I am hoping it will be someone with a medical background similar to mine because a lot of the action takes place in a hospital, and I need a tough critic to see if what I have written sounds as authentic to them as it does to me. Unfortunately, I can’t find a volunteer reader in my field. I believe I can find a reader who is not a medical person; their input is also very valuable, I know. Any suggestions?
That’s a tough one…I wish I had someone to suggest. Maybe you could call your hospital’s community resource center and see if they have any suggestions? Or connect with a college nursing or PA program to see if maybe a top-notch student could take a look (and maybe you could pay a small fee?).
So good and honest, Michelle. On the parts that were cut, I have a friend who owned her own Christian bookstore for 25 years (until June), and she said she couldn’t sell anything theological without a big name attached to it. So unless you have a seminary degree or are Beth Moore, you’re probably out of luck in the marketplace. Too bad, because I’m sure your stuff was great.
Good to know! Maybe when I am a famous writer I can come back to the theology stuff! 😉 Thanks for stopping by here, Megan!
I’ve had big issues with getting people to read my stuff and then get back to me. I have handed so many copies of my writing out and received only sparse responses. Most of them admit to never reading it. I tried to join a writers group locally with no luck (It was so flaky they could never keep a set time to meet). I found a very nice writers group online and then it quickly began to implode due to back biting drama internally. I am destined to wonder weather my pieces are any good and what their problems might be. I am looking into paid editing at this point to help move me along. 😦 Oh, on a side note I do get responses on my short stuff and that has been nice, it’s only on my long pieces, my books and the one script I wrote, that no one will take the time to look over. Maybe this culture of facebook updates and twitter brevity has dulled the senses of all the people I give my work to?
Yup, I’ve been there, too, Dustin. Two friends I asked to read the ms never responded…or they said something not too helpful, like, “Oh yeah, it was really good.” Hopefully the lack of response doesn’t mean they hated it! In retrospect, though, I didn’t choose my early readers as carefully as I might have. Looking back now, I realize my friend who loves light romances or beach reads probably isn’t going to be gung-ho about a Christian memoir.
In defense of our readers, of course, it’s a big favor to ask someone in this day and age to read 200 pages of prose! People are busy…their attention spans are shorter. We need to choose our beta readers carefully.
Good luck finding a local writing group. I am in the same boat here…I am an island onto myself right now — I would love to meet with a small group of writers in town once a month or so. The problem is how to find one…
Michelle, my hubby is writing his book (at last), and he sent me his first chapter. I had to tell him that it was awful and boring. Not only did it need to be rewritten, his entire approach to the novel/epic had to be re-thought. Which he did. And when he sent he his revised 1st chapter, we both were holding our breath as I read it. It was wonderful, exciting, gripping — everything it should be. A tough critique can be essential.
You are brave to be so honest! He may have died a tiny bit inside when he heard your critique — 🙂 — but it sounds like it all worked out. His book is so much stronger because of your honest critique. When he becomes a best-selling author, you better get the dedication! 🙂
I do not relish having my chapters critiqued but then I need the honest opinion of those I value to give me something that will enhance and uplift my writing. I am in a writer’s group which meets weekly. It has given me tips and ways to revise that are helpful. Right now I’m in the beginning phase of writing a book and so far I’ve had to rewrite the first two chapters three times. The premise of the story is fine, the dialogue and flow just need to be tightened and enhanced. It is important to listen to others who have a grasp of wording to bring out the best in my writing.
You are so lucky to have such a talented, honest, working writers group. I am envious of that! There were so many times when I was writing my book that I vacillated between, “This is awesome!” and “This is complete crap!” I honestly couldn’t tell from one minute to the next. Listen to your critique partners — they will surely help you stay sane!
I have a friend that likes the same kind of books I do. She is my first choice then my daughter. I listen to what they tell me and change the story if I can. I really appreciate someone that tells you exactly what they think not what you want to hear.
An honest evaluation is absolutely something to appreciate, Glenda. Thanks for your comment here…and many blessings to you on your writing journey.
When agent Kate Epstein read my manuscript, she said that she thought the ending was “too pat.” My mind screamed, no no no! By my head said, “She’s right and deep down I knew it.” She and I bounced around some ideas (she was very generous with her time in this regard). Those ideas got me thinking, and I came up with a different ending that was NONE of the things we’d discussed but was ultimately far better than either those ideas or my original ending.
When she gave me that initial feedback, my fear really came from not having any idea how I could change it to make it better. But her honesty opened the door for me to come up with something better. After revisions, Kate offered to represent me.
You make such a good point, Melissa: fear plays a huge role in the writing process. I’m always afraid when an editor (I don’t have a book editor, but I do write for other publications, so I work with a variety of online and print editors) comes back with suggestions that I won’t be able to fix the writing and make it better. But more often than not, with some mulling and consideration of her suggestions, the piece turns out much better in the end.
P.S. Also, my husband is an awesome critic. He is my biggest fan, but he will nail me on any little inconsistency or flaw. He’ll say, “Why did…” or “did you mean for this to…” or “I didn’t understand this part…” My first response is Grrrrrrrr…..but he is invariably right and I am grateful that he doesn’t just patronize me with, “Honey, this is wonderful and perfect!”
My husband is a great editor, too. He reads every newspaper column I write before I submit them, and his observations and suggestions are always right on. He was the second person to read my ms — my sister first, then my husband, then the BFF…then my parents (and the parent reaction is fodder for a whole other blog post!).
You are blessed to have such a friend…I find it very interesting what she disliked about your manuscript because, it’s what I dislike about Christian non-fiction the most. That’s why I enjoyed 1000 Gifts so much. I never felt instructed, instead I felt invited into Ann’s heart and world.
You are so right: there is a fine line between didactic writing and soulful, personal writing. As the professional editor said, “You want to leave the reader the ability to come to his/her own conclusions. Your reader should be able to take away something valuable to apply to his/her own life from your stories alone.” I always felt like I had to explain everything, but my editor convinced me to trust that the reader is smart enough to take away what he/she needs and apply the lessons embedded in my stories to his or her own life. It’s a trust issue, isn’t it?
And a vulnerability issue. How vulnerable are we willing to be with our readers?
My ex was also a writer and I let him read the first draft of my first book. I was about 2/3 of the way through it. It was an electronic copy and he used red type to put his comments in. After each paragraph, there were huge blocks of commentary re: what all the problems were. There was as much criticism as there was text. I never finished the novel and I stopped writing for some time. I needed space from it. Now I only let my sister and my husband (and sometimes my best friend) read drafts. Workshops are an exception. I got over it and now I am in an MFA program. I am much more confident in my work and I think that comes through when one is asking for critiques. I must have seemed desperate or unsure in a way that made him feel it was ok to trample over my work.
Thank God for best friends. Besides, a good memoir tells the story without being preachy. You will impart the lessons learned through your own story and your readers will be challenged to examine the biblical principles themselves. I can’t wait to read it!
So, great minds must think alike. My post (here) for Friday is also about criticism.
Negative critiques? Bring them on! They may sting, but without them how will we ever grow as writers? Isn’t there always something we can be doing better? Too often, we hear nothing but rejection without constructive feedback. At least with some details, a writer can decide what resonates and what doesn’t and act…or not…accordingly.
I’ve also been on the other side of a negative critique, too. It’s not much easier over there, but I don’t think it’s doing a serious writer any favors not to be straightforward about things they can improve if you’ve been asked outright to provide an opinion. Good post, thanks!
I struggle to share my drafts with friends. It’s so much easier to share with strangers. Their words don’t sting as much.
Thanks for introducing me to this fun place, Michelle.
This was a great post, Michelle. I wish I had thicker skin when it comes to feedback. But I’m thankful for the people in my life who give honest critiques.
Oh, I so connect with your story! Maybe because I’ve lived it or maybe because I’ve heard it a humdred times or more. Painting as an artist paints is not as simple as painting one wall purple. Why do we think, then, that our first writing draft will be amazing, or even our second or third? And yet…
Do you have an answer to a corollary question? If the Biblical instruction section of the book is not acceptable to readers/editors, only the story, and if the author’s hope was to deepen a reader’s Christian life, what was the point of writing? Just to entertain?
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