Critique Etiquette & Giveaway
I’ve been blessed with great critique partners since I snagged a seat at Darcy Carson’s kitchen table in Seattle years ago. Romance greats like Elizabeth Boyle have logged time with Darcy and her friends from Eastside RWA. In a few months, I learned more about writing from those generous women than I’d figured out in a year and a half of flailing on my own.
I’ve continued to be lucky in my choice of critique partners here in Boston. I meet regularly with paranormal author Ashlyn Chase. Not only do I benefit from a fresh set of eyes on my work, I’ve also made a dear friend. Please welcome my guest blogger for today, Ashlyn Chase.
My wonderful, marvelous, terrific critique partner!
by Ashlyn Chase
My critique partner Mia Marlowe would have immediately made me narrow down my adjectives in that title to one. (grin) Thus begins my talk on the value of a critique partner. And when I say, “made me” I actually mean she would have given me the suggestion. I’ve learned to take a great many of her ideas and suggestions, but now and then I like something the way I have it. I don’t argue. I just say, “I’ll think about it.” She does the same with me. Thus our fruitful partnership continues to be happy.
Recently I had a bad experience with a critique, and I have to say I was as much to blame as the other person. She was too picky. I was offended. What? Isn’t my writing as brilliant as I think it is? Perhaps she had a good point or two, but they got lost in my defensive backlash. Thank goodness we dissolved that partnership before we lost our friendship!
Her style works for her. She’s in a critique group and says this is how they do it. Holy Moly, I’d run screaming from a whole group of people picking apart every word choice and doubting the validity of every fact! Thus, I’m going to expound upon the value of knowing what you need when finding your ideal partner or group. The ideal critique situation is the one that meets your needs.
Most of us need validation regarding what we’re doing right as well as pointers on what we’re doing wrong. Because Mia and I critique verbally, and she has a wonderful sense of humor, I can hear her laugh at my jokes. Very helpful considering I write comedy. I was critiquing on-line with the other critique partner, and just getting criticism in writing. I missed those Ha ha ha’s!
Ah, there’s another bad habit Mia would call me on. She’d say, “Every time you use an exclamation point, you kill a kitten.” Needless to say, I rarely use them anymore. I love kittens.
That’s another advantage of allowing your work to go through the process of a thoughtful critique—before long, you can hear your critique partner’s voice in your head. Suddenly your writing improves and they don’t need to stop you as often.
I give Mia positive reinforcement, and it’s not because I think I should—it’s because I’m honestly blown away by her incredible writing. That must be why she keeps me around. (grin) I find much less to correct in her manuscripts than she finds in mine, but I stick with her like glue because someday I want to write as well as she does. It’s important that you respect the other person’s writing. Ah…the Mia in my head just called me on using a cliché. Okay, I’ll remove the glue until I can come up with a fresher metaphor.
I’m looking back at this article now and discovering a few too many uses of the word, another. So, I won’t point out another great reason to submit to a critique, I’ll merely state that pointing out an overused word or phrase is something a good critique partner does too.
A gentle critique can be good for productivity as well as the ego. It can push you to write more, because you know you’ll be critiquing again in X number of days. Mia writes much faster than I do. I never learned to type. (Ashlyn blushes in embarrassment) But I’ll do my darnedest to produce enough to critique weekly.
After all, I’ve learned to love a good critique.
Thanks for sharing, Ash. Now I’ll share a little about the talented Ms. Chase’s newest release, The Werewolf Upstairs.
Desperate for change, public defender Roz Wells moves to a new apartment, but she’ll get more than she bargained for when she starts dating the seriously hot guy upstairs who just happens to be a shapeshifter and possibly a criminal!
Konrad Wolfensen has made a living staging break-ins to spook businesses into buying his security system. But when he’s accused of a serious crime, he’ll have to enlist the help of his new neighbor/girlfriend to keep his cute, slightly criminal rear-end out of jail.
“I absolutely loved The Werewolf Upstairs. Roz is complex, strong, stubborn, determined and has image issues… like most of us do. She can’t get over that she is overweight and a hottie like Konrad could possibly be interested in her, but he is wholeheartedly. There is no lack of delicious steamy romance, that will keep you turning pages and wanting more. Konrad seduced Roz and The Werewolf Upstairs seduced me!” ~ Sparkling Reviews
If you’re a writer, do you have a critique partner or group? Have you set down certain rules to guide your partnership?
If you’re a reader, do you have someone who mentors you in some endeavor?
Leave a comment or question and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Ashlyn’s book!