Sunday, May 22, 2011

When is it all too much?

Criticism that is. I have mentioned once or twice before that I belong to a monthly critique group. We dutifully send out our pages once a month, and despite moving and having no internet connection last week, I still piggy backed onto the public connection and got my pages out and did my crit.

So at what point do you get enough criticism? I ask as several things have prompted me to think about this.

  1. Firstly, last month we decided to close our crit group to new comers. 
  2. A few weeks ago there was a thread on Litopia where one of the members didn't make it to full member and she questioned how her writing was going to improve without input from other writers. 
  3. And lastly about a month ago, I agreed to be another writer's crit partner.
1. As a group we decided that we no longer wanted people to drop-in. While I think that a new perspective can make you relook at your work, there's something about a stable group. You can be gently coaxed into changing your whole WIP by a critique partner in a way that you may not be by someone who's just popped in for chapter 17. Another member of the group even mentioned something about too many partners sucking the life out of your piece. And for this reason, even though there is an evening group going, I'm going to leave the place open to others, because I think my little group is enough for now.

2. However, it was the crit group and a mentor who got me to where I am today, so how do you develop if you don't have the priviledge of having a crit group? But then again, sometimes, especially at the beginning, you need to have this belief that you can write anything. You need to believe that you can write that whole novel, and to have someone else tell you where you're going wrong may be exactly what you don't need. You need to be ready for the critique. For years I wasn't.

3. The last crit partner was taken on because the Frog is now sacked as my beta reader. I have this idea in my head that I needed someone else other than my group to read THE WHOLE THING again once I had revised it. The thing is I haven't finished revising it, so despite having mentioned that I would like a beta reader, I then got a bit worried about taking on a new partner. In the end it's worked out well, as my early chapters were holey and originally I thought the Frog was doing a good job (he was, but he also has another job and dealt with the whole buying a flat thing, which was kind of important and took up all his time).

Anyway, my point is that I think there is a point when all the criticism can be all too much. As my journey continues I think that this is what works for me: I need a stable group to help me through that difficult revision/first draft. People who will guide me to make the WIP better without jealousy or snobbery involved. Once the revision is done then I think an objective beta reader is a good idea. After all the agent you send it to is not going to be part of your critique group. I am veering more and more to the point of view that a small number is better than a large number of people. I also believe (sorry Frog) that that small group should be fellow writers.

And now, even though I've been super busy and neglecting you all recently, I'd love to know what you think.


Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for the post. As I have just got a crit partner few days back, I am curious and excited as well as anxious about the whole process. For my first lot of books I didn't have a crit partner. Now that I have one, I am glad that I will get another writer's feedback on my MS.

Michele Helene (Verilion) said...

Hi Rachna, I hope you enjoy your crit partner. A good one is so amazing. Do you mind if I ask what feedback you received for your first books? Did you have an editor?


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