Archive for the ‘Critique’ Category
For those of you on Twitter, I’ve been dropping little hints about a TOP SEKRIT project for a few weeks, but I’m finally ready to spill the beans.
But first some backstory… a while back I was lucky enough to meet the most amazing, supportive, and brilliant group of writers. We all came together off a call for critique partners on Krista Van Dolzer’s Mother, Write, Repeat blog. We started calling ourselves the #MGBetaReaders – I know the name is terribly uncreative, especially for a group of writers that are supposed to be creative, but the name sort of stuck.
This group is magic.
Since coming together, I’ve gotten to know the guys and gals and have learned so much from each and every one of them. We’ve become partners in this writing journey, and I am honored to call them all my friends. I’ve watched many of the members find agents, and some of them even sell their books. I am so proud of this group and humbled to be a part of it.
With all of this diverse talent, It was time to take the MGBetaReaders to the next level.
I am super excited to introduce:
The blog is dedicated to all things Kidlit, focusing on MG and YA books and writing craft. There is a little something for everyone, whether you’re a reader or a writer! I hope you will check it out. The blog officially launches on July 10th, but feel free to visit now. We are having some epic giveaways, so spread the word and please enter!
My children have known for a long time that Mommy is writing a book. And since I am writing a middle grade adventure book, they have been itching to read it for themselves.
This week, I spent a lot of time editing and adjusting the book’s prologue so I decided it was ready for a reader; and what better reader than someone from my target audience! I invited my eight year old to read the prologue and he was super excited to finally catch a glimpse of what Mommy has been working on for all these years.
This was the first time I allowed anybody to read a part of the book. Despite the fact that the reader was my own son and only eight years old, it was surprisingly nerve wracking for me!
Here is what I learned from my son:
1. As an avid reader, my son has a very advanced vocabulary for a 3rd grader, but there were certain words that he wasn’t familiar with (example: the word ‘succumb’). Despite this, I’m not going to dumb down my writing. Reading is a great opportunity for children to expand their vocabulary.
2. Third graders don’t know what gin is. Go figure.
3. I better check all my punctuation and grammar because if there are any errors, my son will find them.
So what did my son really think of the prologue? Our discussion went something like this:
Me: “So, what did you think?”
Kid: “I liked it, but it didn’t have a lot of action.”
Me: “What do you mean ‘didn’t have a lot of action’?”
Kid: “Well…you know…action.”
Me: “What kind of action do you think would have made it better?”
Kid: “I don’t know. I guess most prologues don’t have a lot of action. It was good Mom.”
Was my son trying to make me feel better? Quite possibly. But here is what I learned. My son is the perfect beta reader for my novel. If something doesn’t work for him, it probably doesn’t work for most children in my target audience. I’m still not sure how to add more action to my prologue, but I’m thinking about it.
And that’s why listening to criticism is such an important part of being a writer. If you can’t handle criticism, you probably can’t handle letting others read your work. You might as well not be a writer!
Which brings me to a disgusting example of an author behaving badly. BigAl’s Books and Pals is a great blog that reviews indie author books. Al recently gave a mixed review for Jacqueline Howett’s book, The Greek Seaman. Rather than thanking Al for his time (he doesn’t take a fee) Ms. Howett literally went nuts. When I read the comments, at first I couldn’t believe that it was actually Ms. Howett throwing this tantrum. But sadly, it was true. She not only insults Al, but drops the F bomb on many of the other commenters.
Ms. Howett, I have not read your book, and given your behavior, I never will. Not all reviews will be good. You need to learn to take criticism without going ballistic. As Abraham Lincoln stated so eloquently:
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
Ms. Howett, you have removed all doubt.
Maybe you should have just kept your mouth shut, hmmm? Was it worth going all Charlie Sheen to destroy any career you may have had?
If I could take criticism from my eight year old, can’t you?
What helps you deal with criticism? And what was Jacqueline Howett thinking when she lost control? Share your comments below.
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- National Novel Writing Month National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.