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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Accepting Constructive Criticism

My writing philosophy is this: anyone can write.  However, not everyone can write well and tell a good story while doing it.  Writing takes a lot of work.  And one of the things a writer must be is objective.  Let's be honest.  We love our stories and our characters.  However, we can't let our feelings overpower our objectivity.  This is especially true when it comes to critiques.

I recently blogged about the novel I am working on titled REKINDLE.  As I began writing, I felt the need to get the story set up properly.  Thinking I was off to a great start, I continued with the story.  But something felt off.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but I was not connecting with Kallie at all.  Joey's scenes were going great, though.  So each time I sat down to write, I would edit and add some more.  I'd do the same thing the next night.  And the next night.  With just over 8,000 words (four chapters), I stopped.  I couldn't go on.  I am not one of those writers who can "get the story down and edit later."  Yes, I edit when I've got my first draft done, but I can't keep writing when I know something is so terribly wrong.

So what did I do? I posted my first chapter at Absolute Write.  After receiving some awesome advice, I deleted the first couple pages.  I didn't even try to edit; I just took them out completely.  I did revise the new opening scene, and guess what? The story reads better.  It's not burdened by an unnecessary opening.  I can connect with Kallie much better.  And now I can continue.  With a few minor revisions to the remaining pages, I'll be on my way.

I could have reacted differently.  I could have insisted that the opening was necessary (I loved the first paragraph!) and tried to edit.  I could have pleaded my case and tried to figure out something else.  But I didn't.  Instead, I looked at the story objectively and acted accordingly.  And that is necessary for all writers to do.


  1. You're totally right. We have to be attached enough to our characters to write their stories well, but we have to be able to unconnect with the story enough to revise and remove, if necessary. Good post.

  2. This is great stuff here. I agree with you 110%. Accepting crit is *extremely* important to improving our craft.

    When I was younger I would write and write and instead of sharing my work with others I put it all away in a cabinet. Writing was the only thing I felt I was really good at, you see, so I thought that if I received criticism for the "only thing I was good at" it would crush me.

    Nowadays, I embrace crit. I understand that it is through constructive criticism and peer reviews that I can become better and better at doing what I love. I no longer fear the words of others... In fact, I whole-heartedly welcome them.

    Do you mind if I link to you in my blog post this week? I think people would benefit from reading what you've written here and want to send folks your way.

    Great post!

  3. Yes, feel free to link accordingly! :)

  4. Good job recieving the criticism and using it well. :) I find it helps a lot to give myself some time to calm down and let it sink in.

    New follower and fellow writer here--nice to meet you!

  5. Critique is so key, I agree, it's so hard to see it oneself sometimes.

    A second new follower + writer for this post!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!