Tag Archives: Thought

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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How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #2

I am skimming over notes I took from a class about creating characters that your reader will care about.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  (See previous post)

2.       Give them a goal

Ugh. Goals. We all have them, right? We all have something we need to do every day. Some goals we like, others we labor over.  The point is, we can all relate to having to do something.

If your character is wandering around in circles with no clear intent, the reader will not be able to engage.  Even before the inciting incident that is the real start to your story… your character has to have a reason for being… a goal of something that needs to be done (it can be simple, like making dinner)

But soon you should hit the “big goal” that will carry your reader along for the rest of the journey. We have to know what the goal is and have a vested interest in the character getting there.

By the way, the “big goal” needs to materialize in the first 25% of the book or earlier.  This may seem like a given to most of you, but I’ve read some works in progress lately where the author did not understand this. Think about your character’s goal, and make sure it is apparent to the reader.

Everyone wants something.

A reader can connect and care if they have the opportunity to root for your character to get what he/she wants.

So go ahead, give them a goal!

What was the character’s goal in your favorite novel? Do you think this is what made it your favorite?

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Dealing with a child with behavioral issues: Our Journey with the Total Transformation #4

If you’re interested in what I’m dealing with, and what we’ve experienced thus far, check the posts listed below this article.

We are now officially in week two. We’ve seen excellent results using the “ten tips to help you right now” ideas with the older kids… but my two “A+ over-achievers” aren’t really the problem. (Unless you consider crying over getting a “B” on a test a problem – Ugh they are carbon copies of me, I swear) The older kids blink in surprise, and then react to my new-fangled requests like normal thinking human beings.  The six-year-old, though, rants around my requests, giving just as much a problem as I’ve become accustomed to.

Our son’s most common phrase this week:  “It’s not my fault, it’s yours (or his)”

On the bright side, he did actually finish his homework yesterday without a shouting match.  I’m not sure if that is coincidental or not.

The lesson for this week is called “Why won’t my child listen to me.”

While the first disk explained that my child with behavioral issues does not use the same thought processes that the rest of us do, and assured us that his behavior IS NOT our fault… Disk two left us feeling like it WAS all our fault.  They listed a number of common parenting mistakes … almost all of which either my husband, I, or both of us were guilty of.

Here the anger sets in.  I tried to listen with an open mind, because everything they said made perfect sense.  My husband felt attacked and needed a little convincing.  Hubby admitted to being the textbook speech giver.  The CD said this almost never works.  And for, us, it never ever works… but hubby insists on giving a speech about right and wrong and why doesn’t anyone listen to him, and why is he giving this speech again if no one listens…  In effect, he was making himself feel better, but the kids (and even me, I must admit) were not listening at all.  After much soul-searching, he stamped a “guilty” button on his head, and admitted giving self-righteous speeches doesn’t work, so he shouldn’t even try.

I had to admit that I was the textbook negotiator.  “Can we have five more minutes, Mom, please?  I’ve been good.”  I always cave.  Then it’s five more, and five more.  GUILTY.  I have to set rules and stick to them.

These are just two of the things that we had to curb in our own parenting style.  Believe me, there were many more things, and their reasons why they didn’t work made perfect sense.

So, then, what the heck do we do?  We are still a little frustrated, because our “homework” last week was to consider why our child lashes out, and have a better understanding.  This week is to try not to use these useless parenting ruts that we’ve gotten ourselves into.  But how?  I expect to be using that help line a while lot this week.

We are resisting the urge to skip the “waiting” and move on to the next disk, which looks like it has actual things we can put into practice.  We promised each other that we would do this by the book, and this is what it says to do… wait a week in between … but it’s really hard when you are still living inside a nightmare with no immediate hope of waking up.

The big problem I see is that my little guy firmly believes it is someone else’s fault that he gets angry.  In a way, he’s right.  But the problem is that he does not know how to deal with his anger, so he punches something (or someone) or breaks something that is important to the other person… or even breaking something he treasures himself.  He says he doesn’t know why he does it.  How the heck do you deal with that?  Yeah… I’m calling that help line.

swish swivel squiggle

Our Journey with the Total Transformation:

Week One post #1

Week Two Post #2 and Post #3

Week Three (This Post) Post #4

JenniFer_EatonF