Monday, July 25, 2011

Delighted to be Devastated (Crit Diaries)

Two-Way Street Sign
cc Phil Gilbert
PSA: I seriously THANK GOD for the day that Gina agreed to read my atrocious first draft. She has been my biggest cheerleader on this project, and if I ever make it to publication some day, she'll be a huge part of the reason. She's not mean, beastly or monstrous - she gave me just the critique I needed. And she rules. Okay, on with the show.

My post from yesterday about my unflappable crit partner, Gina, garnered a couple of concerned comments. "Don't change your story just to please people."

I'm here to assure you - I didn't. Example? Sure.

There's one particularly evil character in my first (I know, never-gonna-be-published, blah blah) novel.
Gina said she wasn't buying it. That character isn't evil. Not in the least.
I could have made the character nice, which would have made Gina happy.
But that's not the story I want to tell.  I just knew - KNEW - this character was going to have to be pretty nasty. Be redeemable in the next book, (ha!) maybe, and even a little bit in this one - but NASTY. It was going to be key in a couple of other character's developmental arcs, and I just couldn't sacrifice it.
So I talked with Gina about it (clarification - I have never actually talked to Gina.) and she helped me figure out how to make this character a little more contemptible (G is still not happy with this whole aspect of the story, btw, and for now I don't care.) 

This is crit that helps. This is crit that makes us grow. It is collaborative, it listens, it discusses, it challenges.
It is two-way. TWO WAY.
When Gina brought up a problem with my story, it was because she was invested in it, invested in me. She wants to read it, and she wants other people to read it, the way I see it. She wants the story to be its best.
Writers, would you have it any other way?

My author crush Beth Revis wrote an incredible post on this today, complete with a diagram, for those of you who like that sort of thing (I do.) I'm printing it out and tacking it on my wall.

It's not just true of writing, you guys. It's true of life. Criticism stings. We've all gotten it, in nice ways, in not-so-nice ways, in ways that make us cry but end up being good for us. (Oh, hey, High Holidays sermon.)
But if we hear it right, if we respond to it right, if we use it as a challenge, it make us grow. And isn't that an incredible thing?

(Now, do me a favor and go shine some light into Gina's Revisions Cave.)


  1. Oh God... your peeps must think I'm a beast. I swear I'm not, Leigh Ann's peeps!

    It's not that I don't like said character being evil... I just want her to be SUPER evil, so there's no chance I'll feel bad for her!

  2. No one thinks you're a beast, everyone thinks you RULE!

    Sorry for misrepresenting your opinion. I'm trying to make her super evil, but that a thing?

  3. Sounds to me like you guys are doing it the right way! :)