Critiques and Why We Need Them

My first story every written was a magnificent creative work that gave me the greatest sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. My heart saturated every word and thirsted to share it with the world.

But then I endured my first critique by people outside of my family and immediate circle of “that’s nice” friends. A gamut of emotions washed over me: shamed, disappointment, humiliation, embarrassment.

Having invested my soul into my manuscript, it never dawned on me that I may have had a good story but didn’t do a good job of writing it. How could a good story be poorly written? “Easily” is the answer.

If you haven’t read a lot of books to see what the good attributes are of a well written work, if you haven’t taken many writing classes, if you haven’t asked questions of good writers, then you might not be able to create a written masterpiece right out of the starting gate.

It’s rare when a person can sit at a piano for the first time and play a song. It takes time and practice to learn finger placement and how to read music. It’s just as rare to write a flawless story without making changes—corrections included—the first time it is written.

A person who wants to see you create a better product is willing to be an honest champion of your work. They don’t want to discourage you from writing but encourage you to learn ways that improve your writing skills. That means they will gladly point out all the grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. (This is the editing process). They’ll also point out problems with syntax, character development, plot line, and overall story structure. (That’s a critique.)

Don’t get defensive, don’t make excuses when someone offers you an idea that may potentially help your story. Admit that you should have paid more attention in English classes or used your thesaurus more often. Yes, you may need a thick skin to accept constructive criticism. However, if you’re open to the possibility that others have your best interest at heart and can help make viable improvements to your work, you will create a better story and become a top-notch writer.

You don’t have your work critiqued and edited for yourself—you do it for your reader. If you intend to sell your books, this is the best process you can put your work through. You don’t have to accept all the suggestions, but before you discount them, get the opinion of other readers and see how they react to the changes.

And the end result? A story that will hold your reader’s attention, draw them into the pages rather than kicking them out with every mistake they uncover. A good critique will make your work more attractive to the reader providing them more entertainment value which lead to sales.

The best part is that you will become a more professional writer, eventually putting out material with less mistakes, less need for changes, the first time around. Eventually, constructive criticism will be much easier to accept. In fact, you’ll be welcoming it!

What was your first experience with constructive criticism, be it on your writing or something else important to you?

Critique Commentary

This response was so eloquently written that I asked the author to allow me to post it as an article. ~Carole Avila

THOUGHTS ON CRITIQUE

by Alan Morrison

To an author, the reader’s mind is a canvas on which written words paint a picture. If done well, the picture will transport the reader from their personal here and now into the place and time of the story. That is the goal of every writer, but it’s never easy to achieve.

A poorly chosen word, an awkward phrase, flawed punctuation; these and other seemingly trivial faults can result in an incomplete or incorrect picture, one that leads a reader astray or, even worse, pulls them out of the magic trance the writer worked so hard to create.

Alan Morrison Quotation - A

The purpose of a critique should be to point out such things for the author to consider and, if they choose, correct or improve on. The critique is not about the author; it’s about the picture the critic sees. By offering a critique, the critic is allowing the writer to look inside their mind and see the picture the words painted.

That’s how we should view critiques, as gifts of insight. Sometimes they hurt, but they always make a writer better, and that’s the point—to constantly improve.


About the author, Alan Morrison:  Farmboy, mathematician, physicist, fighter pilot, computer scientist, college professor, business owner, executive consultant, author, adventurer, and retiree. “I’ve lived an interesting life, and there’s more to come! Thanks for reading my ramblings.”


Constructive Criticism – One of a Writers Greatest Assets

It hurts like a stab to the heart, like being told you’re not good enough. It often feels like a personal attack, yet constructive criticism is one of the most helpful tools in a writer’s arsenal for improving their craft.

Anytime a comment or suggestion is made to improve work that is based on a genuine desire to help write a better story, it needs to be welcomed like a rare gift, because often times it is. One can keep asking family and friends what they think about a story, and they’ll keep saying, “That’s nice,” “It’s really good,” or other vague compliments that do nothing to move the work forward.

Constructive criticism doesn’t always sound positive or feel good yet can’t be taken personally. Knowledgeable comments or suggestions for change will probably make your work better. Someone who offers a good critique shares what works as well as what doesn’t, showing how to flesh out the characters, drive the plot, offer better word choices, improve sentence structure, tighten the narrative, or anything else that serves to make an improvement in a written work.

Quote on Constructive Criticism

Someone may wrongly belittle a hopeful writer, but whatever immature insults are slung at their work have to be disregarded and chalked up to an inferior nature on the part of the unfair critic. If their comments aren’t positive or provide suggestions for positive change in the work, let it go, but know the difference between a person who is being deliberately hurtful or one who is genuine in their desire to be helpful.

Criticism is needed from other writers to get a better feel for the flavor and direction of a story. It’s valuable in predicting the response of the reader. It can develop a thick skin to taunting and slights, only allowing beneficial information to come through and can provide a stronger foundation for the entire manuscript to stand on.

All in all, constructive criticism is a tremendous asset and a necessary tool in the craft of writing.

Constance Hood’s Incredible Debut Novel

Islands of Deceptions CoverIslands of Deception: Lying With the Enemy is an enjoyably consuming novel which hooks the reader from the first sentence all the way to the last. I was often, and easily, brought to the edge of my seat.

Constance Hood delivers a powerful and riveting account of a young man in search of fulfilling his dreams, only to find himself immersed in a world of espionage and intrigue. Although the topic of World War II has been written about time and again, Hood proves her ability to create a savory original and well researched story based on documented events.

Connie HoodThis smooth flowing and provocative novel is filled with engaging descriptions, historical

facts of interest, and highly unexpected twists. Islands of Deception: Lying With the Enemy will provide a reader of any genre with an entirely satisfying reading experience.

Publication date:  January 15, 2018.

The Challenge of Blogging

“Routine” writing, scheduling a time to blog…ugh! That does not fit into going with the flow or writing when creative energy bursts forth at any given moment of the day.

Blogging isn’t as easy as it seems because my heart lies in my books. I can write, edit, and critique for hours on end, into the darkest morning hours. But blogging? Something about it is so much more…demanding.

Blog concept

Committing to a blog is like committing to marriage. It requires dedication, attention, consideration, honest communication, keeping things interesting. That’s a lot of work.

It’s almost safer not to write a blog. With a novel I can take my time–days, weeks, months, even years to craft a great story. But blogs demand weekly, sometimes even daily, devotion. I am a devoted writer, but fall short as a blogger.

So I allowed myself to consider the difference between blogging and all the other writing that I do.

It boils down to that horrible four letter F-word that I despise so much because it has plagued every facet of my life–fear.

Fear says that what I write won’t interest anyone. It tells me I’ll bore my readers, lose the small numbers of followers I’ve managed to gather. I may write something that I’ll regret years later. Fear points an old crooked finger at my inability to commit to a schedule. It reminds me of my lack of responsibility, and many other failings.

I am afraid to consider all the lost opportunities I’ve allowed fear to cause. It has always been my greatest self-imposed road block. Now I’m forced to consider what would happen if I tackled my fear, what security I could lose, what unknowns I could gain. It requires vast amounts of time and energy to break down an iron-walled ego that has tried so hard to protect me. And listing those fears–what a long, long list. (At least I could write it.)

Still, if I face these fears, will I be proving something to myself, or to others? Then I wonder, can fear really be the result of my constantly seeking the approval of others?

Yikes! I’d rather blog.

Shadows of Oranges-1st Place Winner!

I’m thrilled to announce that my short story, Shadows of Oranges, won first place in the adult fiction category of the annual Art Tales Writing Contest for 2016, sponsored by the City of Ventura, California.

Take a look at my work in the tab marked “Short Stories,” and please let me know what you think in the comments section!Art Work for Contest

Review: Death House by Carole Avila (ARC)

Thanks so much to Lauren at Wonderless Reviews for her terrific review of DEATH HOUSE!

wonderless reviews

Death House by Carole AvilaGenre: Young Adult, Horror
Date Published: November 19th 2014
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Pages: 314
Buy: AmazonBlack Opal Books Shop
Follow Carole Avila on Twitter

Fifteen year-old Adley is on a terrifying journey! She has yet to learn that something sinister haunts her grandmother’s old mansion, or that it hides in a dark portal beneath her bed. The demonic being born of a generational curse does more than negatively affect Adley’s mood—it kills the first born child in each succeeding family by their 16th birthday—and Adley’s birthday is just around the corner! She meets seventeen year-old Victor Trumillo, a descendant of the original victim, and only he can destroy the hideous creature. Victor and Adley want to end the curse and save future lives, but will they succumb to fear just as they may have discovered real love.

(Yes, you read right. I’m posting a review! Of a book…

View original post 881 more words