Monday Musings: What I think about crits.

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I’ve been neglectful of my little blog lately.  🙁  I’m so sorry, guys. I hope to keep it up from here on out, but I don’t think I’ll be doing daily posts.  I’ll try to blog at least twice a week, but they’ll be probably be pretty random on the actual days I post during the week. 
I wanted to talk today about crits and expectations with those crits. I’ve been doing (receiving and giving) them since I started writing and I spend a lot of time on them.  I want the person I’m criting to not only have a great MS, but to learn something in the process. Something they can take with them on their next round of edits and future manuscripts.  Granted I know, especially with beginning writers, that I can’t teach them everything I know (probably not even most) in just one crit, but I do what I can.
I’m also sure that most people who crit are pretty much the same.  We’re not out to make ourselves feel better by tearing your (using the all encompassing you and this is pointing at no one in particular) stuff apart.   We’re not trying to chase you away from writing so we can take your spot.  And we’re definitely not jealous (in the bad way) of you.  We want to help you get better.  We want to help you find that agent or editor and when it is we can say with pride that we’re proud of you and excited for you and that we knew you when.  LOL. 
I’ve also been on the other side where even the tiniest constructive criticism felt like an arrow to the soul.  Where it’s sometimes hard to see past all the red to see the intention behind why a critter has said something.  But, in order to keep going–to keep improving—we need to get passed that.  We need to learn that we are not our writing. The critter isn’t attacking us personally; they’re not even attacking our manuscript.  They’re trying to help us improve. 
Even if all you see is criticism on the page and the critter hasn’t taken the time to tell you what they’ve liked, it’s not because they want to make you feel bad. Take some time to let it sit. A few days, maybe even weeks before you go back and re-read the crit. Try looking at the things they didn’t say anything about.  They more than likely liked the parts that aren’t marked up, and there’s probably more white than red, even if it doesn’t appear so.  Take a look at what they’ve said didn’t work for them.  Then ask yourself these questions.  Do you agree?  Why or why not?  Have others said the same?  Even if you don’t want to change it, what would you do to fix it and would it make the story better? 
Another problem I’ve seen is people taking everyone’s advice.  Someone says do this and they do it, but don’t really think about whether or not they agree.  Whether it works for the story or not.   Whether or not it really should be changed.
Really think about your crits.  People put a lot of time into critting it and you should take as much, if not more, time working with the notes.
One last thing I want to add is make sure the person (or people) you are working with are the right ones for you and your story. Some people crit very harshly, and are very Simon Cowell-ish.  Some just say they love your work and move on.  Personally, I’m a little in-between and that’s how I want to be critted.  And that’s something you have to think about when working with someone new.  How do they crit?  Can you live with it?  Can you handle it? 
There was a person who was doing crits a month or two back as part of their book deal news (UGH! I can’t remember who it was.  If you all remember, please let me know so I can link to it.  Thx.) and I LOVED how they handled this problem.  They set levels for people to choose from.  It was something like you were a peach if you had a relatively thin skin and wanted a gentle critique.  An apple if you can handle a fairly comprehensive crit, but can still be bruised. And a coconut for people who can take a pretty tough critique.  I think all critters should probably ask this before they do critiques and if you are getting a crit and the critter doesn’t ask what style you are, tell them. That way both of you can back off if you don’t think you can work together. 
It’s also probably not a good idea to work with someone who doesn’t write in your genre.  Certain things that aren’t okay in one genre are what make another work and vice versa.  True that certain “rules” carry out through all genres, like grammar and spelling. Punctuation.  However, things like sentence structure and tone, even POV can be completely different.  Especially between adult (where sentences are usually full and complete and the preferred POV is Third) and Young adult (where you can get away with more sentence fragments and first POV is more prevalent.)
Anyway, that’s just my $.02.  Feel free to salt to taste and ignore any advice you don’t agree with.  😀 
BTW, what the heck is up with blogger? Take a few weeks off and everything has changed.  o.O

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