For 2018, all the monthly topics have been submitted to me
by writers and readers of this blog.
This January post addresses Janet Well's "Please give advice on sorting through writing group feedback. What puzzles me is getting opposite advice. I've heard "your character is too perfect" and "your character is too wacky" about the same character. I've also received "I love the opening. You hooked me on the first sentence." from one reader and "This opening is weak. You failed to hook me." from another. I'm confused. (WCS Comment - October 2017).
In today's publishing world, it's necessary to get feedback from a critique group or from one or more critique partnerships in order to test the merits of a story before submitting for (or committing to) publication.
Notice that I used the word feedback not critique. You see, when you ask someone to "critique" your work, you are, in essence, giving them carte blanch to criticize your work.
When you ask for feedback, the critiquer changes their mind-set from criticizing to wanting to provide helpful suggestions and reasons why something works or doesn't work.
Perhaps what would be helpful is to know that feedback comes from Type I or Type II Critiques. A person who gives Type I feedback is objective and deals with the technical aspects, the mechanics, and craft that makes for a marketable story. The person who gives Type II Critiques is highly subjective, dealing with the emotional impact and their feelings toward the characters and the story. Type II's read between the lines and see motifs, personalities, allusion, metaphors, etc. For a comparison of the two types, go to
- Please note that the Type I and Type II Critiques cheat sheet will only be available until March 1, 2018.
Of course, a person might seem a blend of the two types, but their editing strengths and knowledge of storytelling elements, as well as craft techniques and devices, will lean them toward one type more than the other. This also applies to contest judges, authors, editors, and agents.
Whether or not feedback comes from a contest judge, editor, agent, author, or fellow writer, strive to avoid a manuscript by committee. In other words, never let someone rewrite your words or, heaven forbid, tell you that you MUST do this or that. Nothing about storytelling or writing is ever totally black or white and there are countless shades of gray in between. So if you are ever in doubt, educate yourself. Whether searching online for blog posts or going to your local library for a how-to write book to clarify a craft element, the more informed you are means you'll make better decisions for what's best for your story and characters.
In other words, take those sour-lemon critiques and get sweet lemonade feedback for your story.
Now as we begin the New Year, I offer you this—
It is Reality not Illusion—
It is a Setback, not Failure—
It is Achievement not Success—
Every hurdle provides Knowledge.
— C.E. McLean © 1999
Coming next month: February 2018 — Taking Dictation for Dialogue?
************** Don't miss out on this online course Feb. 1-28, 2018
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