Writing Feedback, Critiques, and Criticism

JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

???????????????Writing feedback. I have a love/ hate/ love/ love/ hate/ appreciate/ dread relationship with it. I imagine most writers do.

Of course we dread it. Which artist wants to pour their heart and soul and energy into their creative work and then have someone tear it to pieces? Even though I know– a thousand times over– that my editor is on my team, I still have major moments of panic when I read her feedback.

Yet the love/appreciate part is very, very important. Without critique, my writing hits an early apex. I can’t push through to a higher, better, superior level of writing without the much-needed push from feedback.

This is what feedback looks like in my own life:

Writing group. Every month, I meet with three other novelists. Each of us are working on our own projects, and they’re all very different from one another. The week before we meet, we…

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6 tips for using beta readers

Monique Hall

Before I had finished the third draft of my manuscript, I kept it from view in much the same way a vampire would shy away from the sun. Whenever someone would walk into the room, there would be a lot of hissing and flailing of arms attempting to protect the work in its infancy.

There came a time though, when I knew I needed fresh eyes on it. I knew the book wasn’t perfect, far from it. But I was at my wit’s end at figuring out how to make it so and, quite frankly, I was sick of looking at it.

Handing my manuscript over to my beta readers was not as daunting as I expected. I’ll admit, the first time I hit ‘send’ there were a few deep breaths and a bit of nail biting, but then it was a matter of sitting back and waiting for the feedback.

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If…

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Running and Revisions

I hate mornings. Like, in an I-want-to-stab-the-sun kind of way.

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I’m lured out of bed by the thought of warm coffee—well, that and the incessant tugging from my 3-year-old who’s gleefully gotten up at six a.m.

Oh child, someday you’ll appreciate sleep.

The only thing I loathe more than mornings is running. On a treadmill. To Nowhereville. Seriously. Who invented this crap?

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But I step on the treadmill anyway because I have a drive to keep my lungs from collapsing when I’m on the soccer field. Yes, you read that right. I hate running, but I love soccer.

Stay with me, I have a point.

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I don’t feel like I’m exercising when I play sports. It’s just me and a bunch of friends chasing a ball around a grassy field—or turf if I’m playing indoors—all the while trying to boot it into a net so we can claim victory and go home with our chins held high. Maybe even have a beer or two.

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You don’t get that on a treadmill. There’s nobody waiting to high five you when the belt stops turning. But without the treadmill, I’d be worthless on the soccer field. This morning, in between thoughts of how much I hate running in place, I had an epiphany. Treadmills and soccer are a lot like writing.

Trust me (again), I have a point.

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While I’ve come to appreciate revisions, it’s hard work, and it’s not as fun as the creative flow that comes with blasting words onto a page. That’s soccer. That’s the side of my brain that thinks of writing as going full speed, wind slapping me in the face, hands held high like I’m going to hug the sun (because the big hot ball in the sky and I are friends as long as I’m on the soccer field).

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I’ll show up early for a soccer game, whereas I have to force myself to put on my running shoes.

Every.

Single.

Morning.

But I do it. I do it because it makes me better on the field. Just like revisions make me a better writer. Don’t get me wrong. Some days—when I didn’t stay up typing away or binging on episodes of Orange is the New Black—I enjoy climbing on the treadmill and pounding out a couple miles. I always, always feel great when the workout’s done. My mind is charged. Ready. Refreshed. Every tenth of a mile is like editing a chapter of a novel. Bit by bit. Word by word.

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It’s worth it. It just takes self-motivation. Lots of it. And, just like revisions, when I run I have to dig a little deeper, push myself a little harder than I would have to on the field—and have faith that if I put the effort in, the results will show.

Novel Fridays: Opening the Drawer

Tate Street

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Greetings, novelists! I hope you’ve had productive weeks.

As February comes to an end, we find ourselves three months out from the conclusion of NaNoWriMo. Now, it’s quite possible that you’re still working on your NaNo project–November 30 was simply a milestone for you and nothing more. Or, wherever you were in your manuscript when December rolled around, you decided to take a hiatus. You might still be on that hiatus.

After all, going back to a draft is something of a strange process. And it’s something we all have to in the course of writing novels. Effective revision is incredibly difficult without some distance from your work and the best way to create that distance is simply to put it away and think about something else for a while. Eventually, however, you’ll need to open that drawer again.

Hopefully returning to your draft feels like this. Ideally, returning to your novel feels like this.

Rereading your draft

In On Writing

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