January 13, 2010

Critiquing Does Help!


I am in the midst of editing my first finished novel and have joined a crit group to get some feedback on my work. Can I just say that everyone should have other sets of eyes look at their work at some point? Yes, indeed, you definitely need other people to help you learn how to make your book better.

I've been through my novel a few times, but am so new at this revision thing, I'm not great at finding problems. So it was a humbling experience to see all the issues brought up when the crits came back. These ladies were kind and encouraging, but my face did burn with embarrassment when I saw the stupid mistakes I had made.

Hhmmm, you mean I never realized that a knight would question why a teenage boy couldn't ride a horse? Hel-lo! Why would a knight agree to take on this boy (which is really an escaped woman from a convent) as his squire and teach him how to ride? And why would this knight blindly accept the fact this boy can't ride a horse? Why, indeed?

Grrrr...I felt really stupid.

But you know, I was so glad to have it pointed out to me. I needed someone to show me what was wrong, so I could make it better! Isn't it amazing how you can justify the things you write, while unknowingly open up huge plot holes in the process?

Or maybe you don't write stupid things like me.

But if you have, would you mind sharing? What silly things have you written that you later caught in your editing, or were pointed out to you by others?

Come on, make me feel better!


32 comments:

  1. lol I posted about the exact same thing this morning :-)

    And I totally agree with you. Crit partners are invaluable help while shaping your work into the best form it can be!

    ♥Sara

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  2. I am sure that is absolutely right - and they should be strangers if possible.

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  3. Oh, my goodness I've had so many "duh" moments pointed out to me, I can't even pinpoint one right now without looking it up. LOL
    But I do remember a scene where I kept describing everyone's eyes and looks. My crit partner was like enough with the eye rolling! LOL
    Ooops. Why didn't I see that?

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  4. I love having a crit group! On my latest wip, I was so proud of a line I wrote about an overweight guy. It said, "He wouldn't know what junk was if it bit him in the taste buds." At my critique meeting on Mon. night, one of my crit partners said she got a weird mental picture, like someone was actually biting his tongue. LOL So, despite how excited I was about that phrase, I have to rethink it now. :-)

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  5. OH YES, I HAVE WRITTEN STUPID THINGS!!! I once wrote a whole scene before I realized I was making it up (I write nf), and had to start over, telling the truth!

    It's great to have a group of loving friends point out mistakes, so we can improve.

    I like your attitude, Sherrinda.

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  6. Crit groups are great, sometimes another pair of eyes will miss something a third person will catch. I highly encourage groups.

    ann

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  7. I recently had my old WIP critiqued and it confirmed suspicions I had with it. it was most helpful in that way. I seem to have the biggest struggle with the first twenty pages or so of a novel. It's repetative with me so it lets me know that's where most of my editing will have to take place.

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  8. I feel your pain, Sherrinda. I got a crit from a published author (a treat, I know) and she was wondering where the heck my story problem was hiding. Talk about embarrassing! I felt like I was too much of an imbecile to get one of the most basic rudiments of plot. But as I read on through her notes, it finally occurred to me, "Duh, it's MC's the rocky relationship with her mother that's driving everything. I just need to make it more clear in chapters 1 and 2!" Anyway, those burning cheek "DUH!" moments are worth suffering through if they help you make a breakthrough. We need to be as forgiving of ourselves as learners as we would of our children trying something new, like violin (screech!).

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  9. Come on over to my blog today. I posted about this VERY thing. I quoted some of my "Critters'" comments too.

    Be careful and watch out for all the ink stains. Ugh.

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  10. I know what you mean exactly! Just a few of the silly mistakes I've found when editing:

    - I mentioned my character fishing with his father when a huge part of the plot is that he doesn't HAVE a father. *shakes head at self* That one was really obvious when I reread it.

    - More than once I've realized that my characters have changed his/her story. I hate it when that happens.

    - I've uncovered tons of little inconsistencies in my stories. Things like what the character was wearing, suggesting things that really wouldn't be possible in the situation, etc.

    I wish you the best of luck revising your novel!!

    ~Kendrabelle

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  11. I look forward to passing along my work this year. I know it will be quite the eye opener!

    There are definite plot holes that I can see now, so I must be careful to check into those before I stamp THE END.

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  12. Aren't critique groups great! I'm bad at oh so many things, so it's hard to pick just one, but here goes. I am horrible at comma usage. My brother (who was one of my first beta readers) put in close to 1000 commas when he first read my manuscript. I went to college. I majored in journalism. I should really know how to use commas! :)

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  13. You should be proud of yourself, despite the errors. Me, I'm still hiding behind finishing my draft (ever so slowly). I dread (and look forward to) sharing my rough stuff with others. I can just imagine how much stupidity comes to light once my pages are shared lol. Oh well, it's necessary and good for us, huh?

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  14. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the times that's happened to me. But after the initial blushing, you really are grateful it was caught as soon as it was.

    Critiques can always be helpful...even when they're not!

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  15. Love your humor! You will find a clever way to make it work out. :O)

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  16. LOL The first time I was in a serious crit group, I got my critique back and felt like such a dunce! I thought for sure they would kick me out of the group for being so remedial.

    But instead, they took me by the hand and helped me with every critique to get better. I learned so much every time we subbed chapters, and with every new thing I learned, I strove to make the next submission free of that particular error.

    It revolutionized my writing.

    So hang in there. I totally agree that crit groups can be beneficial to writers.

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  17. Oh, goodness. Mine often relate to hanging body part. "Her hand dangled across the back seat, then fluttered toward him."

    Really disjointed, wierd stuff!

    My critiquers have saved me from discombobulation and even worse things!!!

    Blessings for a great post!!

    Patti
    www.pattilacy.com/blog

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  18. What makes me crazy about my own writing is when I help my critique partner by pointing out a word she used quite often, but didn't check to realize I was using the exact same word WAAAAYYYY too much. Boy, it was easy for me to see it in someone else's writing, but ignore it in my own. Sheesh! You can bet I check now. I think critiquing someone else's writing helps us with our own immensly. And we all need those extra eyes, so you can't beat yourself up ofer that.

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  19. I know I've had plenty, Sherrinda, but I fix and block it out fast afterward. Stupidness never ends for me!

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  20. Hi Sherrinda -

    I'm working on a short story to submit to Chicken Soup. Since I already had something written, it was a matter of tweaking.

    I didn't realize how much tweaking it required. Time and experience have a way of opening our eyes to writing faux pas.

    One paragraph I loved had to be cut to meet the lower word count. It hurt to eliminate that baby, but it didn't move the story along.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  21. I write a lot of stupid things. And a lot of stupid typos. That makes me crazy!

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  22. So glad the crit group is working out for you Sherrinda. I write stupid stuff all the time. Sometimes, on my first or second read through, I make myself blush, and that's just me realizing my mistakes!

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  23. No I write stuff like that all the time, it's normal, I think.

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  24. Crit partners are the best. When you're writing some things just seem so obvious to you that you never think to say why?

    My novel is set in the US but I am British, you wouldn't think it'd be that hard but I've made so many funny mistakes!

    Good Luck with your edits

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  25. All lasting work and all work that changes souls has been a collaboration. Paul wrote of this in the New Testament quite a bit. The only person I know who can work perfectly without help from others is God, and He chooses not to.

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  26. It really does help!! Great post :)

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  27. Hi Sherrinda! Um, I didn't expect that pointing out the horsey thing would be such a big deal! I don't need to enumerate my "duh" moments because you'll be finding them and pointing them out for me...I guess turnabout is fair play, no?!

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  28. A crit partner pointed out that I used "Come on" or "Let's go" every time my characters were getting ready to go somewhere. I didn't even realize I was doing that!

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  29. I look back on some of the things I wrote and submitted without someone looking at it first and cringe. Even though Ive learned so much this last year, I still feel stupid about some of the things I roll out. Thank goodness for honest critique friends.

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  30. We all do those silly little things. In our writer minds, things just makes sense. Our characters really aren't stupid, it's just a matter of Blind Writer Syndrome. Perfectly understandable.

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  31. I like your style and your attitude. I cannot help but think that we all make those kind of mistakes!

    Where is your Crit group? Is it local or virtual?

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  32. Oh, yeah, critiquing definitely helps! Sometimes I get overwhelmed at all the problems in my book, but I make myself keep pushing through it all :)

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