WRITERS BE NICE


Okay, yesterday I read a lovely post that had a wonderful list of what all writer’s should know. I followed the link from twitter so I’ll hunt it down for you later. However, the #1 item of the list had me saying “Whoa!” and I’ll explain why.

#1 DON’T LISTEN TO OTHER WRITERS

Yep, this was the number one item on her list. At first I was in total disagreement. Then…then, I pondered on it and realized that in someways this wasn’t as bad of a rule as I thought.

This was driven even further home when I went to a writer’s group recently where another author was adamantly telling one author how she should finish her book. I mean WTHeck? Where does a writer that is in no way published have the right to tell another writer that they should seriously consider changing the ending of their book based on only reading the first 30pages of the manuscript. Sad thing was, my 13yr old author in training was at this meeting. She’d read the author’s book and heard what the author stated as the premise and ending of her book and felt that the other author was being just plain mean.

I stood up to the writer’s defense and stated to the other author that she shouldn’t make blanket statements about someone’s work after only reading the 1st 30 pages. Furthermore, it’s the author’s decision how to write their story.

Sadly, I had to agree.

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH MEANIES

Over the years as a writer I’ve explored it all. I’ve gone to writing class, critique sessions, online forums, had beta readers, temporary critique partners and truth be told it’s like finding gold when you find another writer or a beta reader that gives you honest feedback but RESPECTS the fact that it’s your story. Sometimes other authors want to make your book their story and only give advice on how they would write it.

TAKE THE GOOD and LEAVE THE BAD

When you put yourself out there while discovering yourself as an author, learn to TAKE THE GOOD and chuck away the bad. There is good to be had by having another writer review your stuff.

Pull out concrete mechanics issues.

Here’s a quick list of what to listen to.
– Grammar issues
– Plot holes
– Character Depth Issues
– Painted Scene Issues
– Inconsistency in the world you created
– Issues that are bought up by multiple readers that have in no way talked to one another. For some reason when you have many people together, they hop on the same bandwagon.

I BELIEVE YOU CAN LISTEN – JUST DO SO WISELY

In short, I believe in general authors can help and do help other authors. But you as the author of your book need to own your story, and if another author rips your stuff apart outside of the areas of grammar, main plot, characterization or areas listed above, then throw their advice to the side.

I’ve been lucky to find great authors that have helped me carve a much better story. Truth be told, I’ve only had a few meanies and most of them I’ve met in online forums. Therefore, when dealing with online communities I’m very cautious and only exchange a few pages at a time to see where the relationship leads.

WHAT’s YOUR STORY?

Do you use author critique groups? Do you disagree with the writer’s advice #1? I do, but do you? Have you dealt with a meanie? What did you do to get over it and keep writing?

~ by LM Preston on March 3, 2011.

2 Responses to “WRITERS BE NICE”

  1. I’ve not encountered too many ‘meanies’ before. Oh, I’ll have the occasional flapper jawed critic who takes an issue with about 5-10 things on each page, but I wouldn’t call them excessively mean. Oh, there was that one writer who said, “Well, that is a small forest of trees you destroyed when you wrote this book.” That wasn’t very nice. There was also “It’s better to let someone else think you are an idiot than to write it down and prove it.”
    So, I’ve had some mean critiques. At first I was tempted to list them all in a little black book that I would keep secret until I could exact my revenge. But then I lost the book.
    So now, I’ve adapted the “duck defense” I join a group, or network with a writer online and its like I’m splashing into a big ‘ol lake of ideas. My feathers will not pull me to the bottom and drown me…I shall glide safely over the lake and arrive at my nest where I will find my soul mate duck and have lots of little baby ducklings.
    Dang…I lost the meaning of that metaphor somewhere after the feathers.
    In all seriousness, I do try to take each bit of criticism as is, but also from the source. Obviously I’ll put more stock into an accomplished professional than I will some random armature writer I met online. On the other hand, I also know this: if one writer feels that way about my book, he or she will represent many, many more of my audience who will pick up on the exact same thing.

  2. I’ve had my fair share of authors who aren’t interested in my writing (too graphic of content) and therefore destroy my ideas without offering constructive feedback. Instead of realizing that not everyone writes about happy things, and then deciding if the project is in their interest to edit, they instead grab at it, and then are cruel towards it.

    I’m lucky enough to share a common goal of publication with my mother. She’s been my backbone since day one, about five years ago. Through her, I’ve learned quite a lot about structure and grammar, and I know that when no one else will treat my writing well, she will. She’s proud of me and only wants to see me exceed.

    Thanks for this post, LM.

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