Sunday, December 21, 2008

Listen to your critics

Assuming your critics are telling you the truth and being honest (which doesn't always happen with critique partners - they are too nice)...please listen to those critics.

Too often, when we read reviews for our books or receive comments from contests, or hear critiques from others that don't quite fit with our perception of the book, we tend to make excuses. We come up with all of these reasons why our perception is right and the opposing view is wrong. Sure, this is natural. I fully understand this defense mechanism, but we also have to realize that we might be the one who is wrong this time.

When I was working on my first Master's Degree in Literacy I studied the role that curriculum, teacher, student and the environment play on student learning. I know, you are thinking, "Where are you going with this Scott?" Just wait. What I found was interesting. The research out there only showed that if student learning wasn't taking place, the blame was placed only on three of the areas. The teacher was never part of the equation. Only if student learning was successful, then the researchers mentioned teachers. What did I find in the research after 1 year of studying a single classroom? The teacher was as much a part of the equation for both the good and the bad.

Now back to the writing. If someone writes a bad review for you, or a critique says something about your writing that you might not agree with, you still need to listen. Step back from the writing and really study it. They might be the person who is right.

I was talking to a published writer about a month ago and she stated that a group of other writers on her writing loop were really trashing a couple of reviews they had received. Instead of thinking about their writing, they spent the entire time telling each other that the reviewer was just full of it and the writers who got the bad reviews were much better than what was said.

Maybe they were... Maybe they weren't.

Be objective about your writing people and be honest with yourself. It may hurt sometimes but if you want to be successful, you need to do this.

1 comment:

  1. There are too many authors out there who think that just because they got published their writing is perfect and it annoys me every single time to hear that they just ignore what is said to them.

    Their fangirls are just as bad too. "You're reading it wrong!" "The book's meant to be for fun, not analysed!" and to the weird, "She has three kids and a career, she doesn't have time for spelling and grammar!" and "You're just enjoying it the wrong way!"

    Everyone needs to step back and actually think about what people are saying. If they say the characters feel flat, or dialogue forced, listen to that. If people say that they'd rather have the early days of plot rather than the modern days of it being just porn, listen to that too.