Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Critical Eyes

First of all, I want to say that the picture to your left has absolutely NOTHING to do with this post.  I'm just a little jealous of all of Katie's cool pictures . . . except maybe I'm trying to look "critical".

I've been reading manuscripts over the last week for some of my writer friends.  First, I read a very cool YA thriller by Shelli Johannes Wells which is full of amazing, page-turning suspense.  Great characters . . . great book.  I can't wait to see it on the shelves.

Right now, I'm in the middle of Katie's very sexy, very intriguing YA novel.  I don't want to give anything away, but she's right--it's wicked cool.

Critiquing manuscripts is tricky business.  I tend to be overly heavy-handed with my comments, and I always try to remind my writer friends how subjective critiques are.  My new favorite website is Shannon Hale's.  In the section of her site called "Mincemeat",  she gives some really juicy advice for writers.  She also addresses how to take (and dish out) critique suggestions. She says, ". . .remember--others can identify the things that aren't working, but no one can tell you how to fix them.  Unfortunately, that's the sole burden of the author."  She also talks about the importance of recognizing when someone understands what it is you are trying to do as a writer.  If you feel like someone doesn't "get" you, you should not give a whole lot of weight to that person's comments.

So . . . I'm trying hard to write notes suggesting problems without suggesting how to fix them.  And, I completely expect my writer friends to ignore any comments that they think are completely off-base.  That said, I'm loving doing this, and I'm learning so much about the craft and structure of writing novels.   I've had a bit of a break from my own WIP, and I'm ready to get back to it with fresh, critical eyes.


Shelli said...

SF - you gave GREAT advice!YOu will never know how much I whole-heartedly appreciate the time you (and katie and jessica) took to gotheough my 300 pages with a fine tooth comb. There were many comments that resonated with me and have made my book better. BTW thanks for the nice words about my book - you are not by chance thinking of being an agent - are you? Im ready to return the favor when you are - keep pluggin along.

Christy Raedeke said...

Oh, I just can't wait to read both of your books!

Katie said...

I can't wait to get your notes SF! Because I know it will only get better.

How fun this all is :-)

I loved the advice about how it's best to show the writer where there is a problem, but allow them to figure out how to fix it. That makes it almost easier I think.

Anyway, thanks for your "Critical Eyes." Hopefully I can lend you mine sometime soon.

Hardygirl said...

Thanks Shelli. I'm trying to set some goals for myself to at least have a first draft by January. We'll see. . .

Christy, uh, is that an offer? Maybe?

Katie, I'm lovin' your character Edwin. I'm about halfway through now!!


Christy Raedeke said...

Absolutely - I would love to read your manuscript!

Katie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie said...

Mmmm.... Edwin...

I totally have a crush on him.

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