Quite a shake of a quake here in San Diego last night! I haven’t heard any reports of significant damage, but our house was a-rocking and a-rolling.
I had a bit of an earthquake experience at my critique group last week. I brought a chapter of my YA novel. I knew it wasn’t my strongest chapter – in fact I knew something wasn’t quite right – I looked forward to the brilliant Snail Society “fixing” it for me.
Well! Without getting too specific, they made a horrible suggestion. I’ve been reacting to their misguided advice ever since. Here’s how I see the stages of response to critique (assuming you trust your group).
STAGES OF RESPONSE TO A ROUGH CRITIQUE:
- CONFUSION/DISBELIEF: Have you actually read anything I’ve written? How could you possibly think that’s a good idea? Have brain suckers invaded your skull again?
- ANGER: Obviously I can’t trust your judgment anymore. See if I ever bring another bit of my amazing writing to your table for dissection.
- SELF-DOUBT: I can’t write. I’m fooling myself. I’ll never finish this piece of gobbledy-gook. Why bother even trying? I can’t believe my critique group even puts up with me. Maybe that’s why they made such a horrible suggestion – because they want me out!
- (Possibly) OPEN TO POSSIBILITIES: What if I were to change this one part? Could that work? Hmmm…
- EUPHORIA/APPRECIATION. I’ve got it! I know what was wrong/missing. I can’t wait to try again. When is our next critique meeting?
Basically… even the amazing and brilliant Snail Society sometimes gets it wrong. I still disagree with their suggestion. BUT, they helped me stop and really look at my story – and to figure out where my story wasn’t working.
Not all critique groups are created equal – and the wrong group can do earthquake-style damage to your psyche and story. But, once you’ve settled in with the right group, remember…
they might not have the answers, but if your trusted group has questions, make sure you take time to hear them. Really really hear them. For me, it’s taken almost a full week. There have been times it’s taken even longer.
Watch out, WIP, things are about to be shaken up.
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK