Tag Archives: Emotion

Everyone can benefit from a critique, but not everyone should get one

I find myself shaking my head sometimes at the way people act when their work is critiqued or reviewed.

Recently I was in attendance at an event where an author spoke. She started by laughing about receiving a harsh review that day. Then she asked the audience if anyone read her book.  When one girl raised her hand, the author said (I’m making this up) “Do you think there was too much tomato soup in that pot?” The girl in the audience said: “Well, I do see how someone could think there was too much tomato soup in the pot”.

What went immediately through my mind was that maybe there WAS too much soup in the pot, and the author didn’t realize it.

The funny thing was, the author then started to argue why she didn’t think there was too much soup in the pot.

Think GirlIt made me think:

If two people thought the same thing, the issue is probably there.

As an author, we need to understand that what we type onto the page may not be perceived as we expect from  a reader’s point of view. We need to accept this, and move on.

Thankfully, the speaker caught that she was defending herself, laughed, and continued her talk.

This brings me to critiques.

If you cannot handle a critique, what are you going to do when you get out into the “real world” and people slam you on the internet because your main character’s name is Fred and they hate the name Fred? Think about that.

Some people react oddly when they get a critique.  For me, personally, If I get a crit that says “Wow, this was wonderful. I really enjoyed it in every way shape and form. You are brilliant!” I’m not really all that happy – Now, if you want to say that in a review, I’d love you for it 🙂

But in a critique?

GAH!

Nope.

This is a person who will never crit my stuff again.

Because I am smart enough to know I’m not perfect. Nope. Far from it.

But some people out there want to be coddled. They want their egos stroked. People like this SHOULD NOT be asking for critiques. A critique is not a forum for your self-esteem, although it can be a place where you can BUILD your esteem.

If you are not ready for feedback that you may not like, then you need to find a way to GET READY.

PKO_0013466 sadBecause learning that the pivotal scene you wrote— the one that makes you cry and changes your life every time you read it… (yeah, you know that scene. Everyone has one)

Anyway… learning that your scene DIDN’T provoke the emotional response you wanted is going to hurt. But what you need to train yourself to do is let that pain sink in for all of five seconds, get over it, and then re-read the comments and look for useful information to better your writing.

PKO_0004816Believe me, guys – for those of you who are not published yet – it is FAR BETTER for a critique partner to tell you that something does not work, and give you ideas on how to make it work, then to get slammed in an amazon review later.

So where are you on this? If you have not been critiqued or reviewed, are you preparing yourself, or are you looking for a testimony to your brilliance?

If you’ve been receiving critiques for some time, how do you react when one, two, or three people say something you disagree with?

_JenniFer____EatoN

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Rule #11 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_Novel

I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #11

11: Avoid sounding ‘writerly’. Better to dirty up your prose. When you sound like a writer, your voice has crept in and authorial intrusion is always unwelcome. In the best writing, the author is invisible.

My take on this, is to not always be perfect.

I have to admit… I’ve started sentences with “and” and “but”.  Correct?  No, of course not.  So why do it?

VOICE.

Voice is very important, especially in first person. Your character is narrating the entire story.  Do YOU think in complete sentences?  No, of course not.

We need to write how it is believable.

I recently had an editor try to “correct” this paragraph of dialog:

“You’re pretty, and have nice legs, and beautiful brown eyes, and an amazing smile if you’d ever use it, but you can’t see all these great things because you’re always too hung up on wishing you had what everyone else does.”

They wanted me to change it to be grammatically correct.  Their suggested edit:

“You’re pretty, have nice legs, beautiful brown eyes, and an amazing smile if you’d ever use it…”

The reason I pushed back on this is because the character is very emotional and upset.  He is rattling off a list of things popping into his head (and not thinking at all what he is saying)  The editor’s suggested change made it sound like he was dictating a letter with no emotion at all.

Luckily, despite not being ‘correct’ – my dialog stayed.  It is more believable this way, and conveys ten times the emotion.

Have you ever had to defend your choice of “bad” grammar/style?

Click here to tweet: Write bad to write good. Rule #11 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever from @jennifermeaton

_JenniFer____EatoN

Why doesn’t this chapter work? The rules of writing a scene.

Have you ever read something you’ve written, and know that it just doesn’t “work” but you can’t figure out why?

I’m currently reading a beta that is in probably its fiftieth draft. That’s okay.  People write at different speeds.  For me personally, I am reading this manuscript for probably the sixth or seventh time.  Each time I read it, I am pleasantly surprised by the “growth” of the story.

Think GirlSo, here’s where the “Why doesn’t this chapter work” comes in.  I am DEVOURING this manuscript this time around.  The added scenes are spot-on.  The story is exciting and driven.  Then BAM!  I hit a roadblock.

I hit a scene that just didn’t satisfy me.  Was it written well?  Yes.  Did it follow the plot?  Yes.  So what was wrong?

I went back to a writing lesson I learned probably a year ago.  It said that each scene needs to be a miniature story in itself.  It has to start, have a rising action, a climax, a falling action, and a resolution.  Now, I am not saying that this needs to be in depth.  Think of it.  A falling action can be as simple as an emotional response of a character shaking their head… but a scene really DOES need to have all these elements.

The problem with this scene is that it didn’t do this.  It was a scattering of information, mostly that I already knew as a reader, and it did not push the story forward.  No, it was not filler.  I just don’t think the author “did what they intended” to do with that scene.

Now, I’m not psychotic.  I am not saying that I look at every scene I write for rising action, climax and resolution, but I think at this point I naturally write this way… as all serious writers should.

So next time a scene is bothering me, and I can’t figure out why, I’m going to dissect it. Does it have a rising action? Climax? Falling action?

Most importantly … is something resolved?

I think that’s the biggie.  If nothing is resolved (however minor) then the scene does not drive the story forward.

What are your thoughts?

_JenniFer____EatoN

The Road to Publication #3: The Bad News – More Editing?

Wait a minute… I just spent two months writing to a deadline.  Now I have more deadlines?  Yikes!

Wow, the day after the contract was signed, all the “stuff” came flooding in.  Tons of emails, and tons of information.  I knew that there would be a lot to do, but I must admit, when I saw it spelled out, I was a little daunted.

One of the emails contained a very long list of things that need to be done before the target release date.  Thank goodness, many of the things on the list are dates when the publisher needs to do things.  But there are things that I need to do.

***editing***

Ugh.  Editing.  I figured I would need to do a little work on it, but I was a little surprised when they asked me to go through LAST WINTER RED and look for about 50 possible things that the editors will flag, so it will be as clean as possible before they have to review it.
I am using a computer program to analyses my manuscript, and it’s surprising when a computer highlights possible problems how many things pop up that you don’t see when you read.  As always, I don’t agree with everything the computer says.  A computer does not, or instance, understand that you are looking for an emotional reaction when you purposely repeat a word five times in a paragraph, and that it was intentional…but in the instances where it was not intentional, I was able to make the changes, and the sentences are much stronger.

That is where I am now.  There are about six different reports to run like this.  Some of them overlap, but it is a lot to look at, and a lot to consider (see that… duplication of “a lot” for an emotional response… are ya feeling emotional?)

Anyway…tons to do, and now there is a new deadline, and five other authors in the same boat counting on me to finish in time.

No Pressure.

Stupid things your Beta Readers Find: Letting Your Villain Off The Hook Too Easily.

This is one of those “type things out to clear my head” posts.

I’ve written before that if one person makes a comment, consider it.  If two people make the same comment, seriously consider it.  If several more people make the same comment, revise.

I’m wavering on this one, though.

When I request beta reads, I ask for people to express the emotion they feel in each chapter.  A few people have said that my villain gets off the hook too easily.

Now, are they expressing an emotional response, or do they think that’s an error on my part?  That is what I am trying to figure out.  Even after questioning them, I am still not quite sure.

For one thing, they all would have squawked at my first seven or so drafts, where he completely got away with it.   I’m at least happy with my decision for him to get caught.

I can’t have him die a horrible death though, because then he can’t come back with a vengeance to really screw with Magellan’s head in another book.

I guess the visceral reaction of people is that if someone kills almost a hundred people with no remorse, he should get no less than that in the end.  The problem is that my villain is just too much fun.  Everyone has said that he makes their skin crawl, but they love it.  He is a great character, and I want him to come out and play again.

I think the problem might lie in the fact that you see him get caught, and you see the initial “punishment”, but you don’t get to see the aftermath… but if I do go and show the reader that aftermath, it will get red-lined because that is not intrinsic to the main-plotline for a POV character to be there to see it.

I don’t really have to show you the aftermath… I can show you the emotional response of the aftermath from another character’s POV.  I can intertwine that into the main plotline as the characters move into the final scene.

That’s it!  I got it!  I knew talking to you guys would help. You are all so smart!

Gotta go!  The idea is bursting out of my head, and I need to write it down before it disappears!