Monday, August 22, 2011

I survived my crit

As you know if you've been reading this blog, I am a delicate little snowflake who is neurotic as hell about getting critiqued, and I'm trying to grow a thicker skin.  I'm also submitting a short story to a writing contest whose deadline is September 15, and said short story needed work if I wanted to have any hope of winning, or even placing in the top five.*

And so, I submitted my piece to be critiqued by SWAG, and I gritted my teeth and tried to think about other things until the meeting today.  I had turned it in a week early, and I had about fifty bajillion ideas of how I could tweak or change it every one of those seven days.  But I didn't touch it, and I trusted my group to have the needed outsider perspective.

And they were right.  I needed to give two of the characters names.  I needed to eliminate a perspective, because the piece was too short for multiple POVs.  I needed to make some things more obvious.

That last one appears to be my biggest snag, incidentally.  People are always confused about the one thing I thought was crystal clear.  The characters and world and situations exist fully formed in my head, but they don't always make it onto the page, or they're not explicit enough.  It's frustrating, because this is something I've struggled with since the beginning, and I like to think I'm getting better.  But it's an unfortunate truth that I can't see things through other people's eyes.  Every time I think I've stepped back enough, it turns out I needed another viewpoint.

That, I suppose, is the entire point of critique.  Maybe after I'm done chipping away at the trilogy, I'll work up a backlog, so I'm not submitting things I wrote this month.  It's much easier to see the flaws if it's not freshly churned out.

So, tell me about a crit session you had recently.  Was it helpful?  Was it awful?  Did it help?  Did you hate it, anyway?  I'd love to hear about your experiences, positive or negative.

*No, I am not actually delusional enough to believe that, in my very first submission, I'll be one of the best five entries. But a girl can dream, can't she?


  1. You took our critique with grace and aplomb. ;)
    It's always hard to see your baby go up in front of others. All I can tell you is that it gets easier the more you do it. TIght fisting your work just leaves it in a drawer. And we write, and want to share.
    It's a basic part of us as writers.
    I've had plenty of gore-fest reactions, but for the most part...positive reinforcement and thoughtful responses keep me going.
    Glad you're the same.

  2. Yeah, I'm sure it's just a matter of getting used to it. I've been getting away with not submitting for rather long periods of time. Perhaps we all need to be assigned our months way ahead of time. Maybe we can talk about that next month, during our "craft" meeting.

  3. I joined a group that you get a prompt every week and you write a short story. I got some grammar critique (which were obvious after I looked it over, I need to remember to do a re-read before posting anything on the internet).

  4. Grammar critique is always unhelpful. Why fix a sentence you might not even keep? Content, overall theme, POV, what the reader needs explained in further depth is what a critique should be about. Sorry to hear you had distracted critiquers.