Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hags and Crit Partners

I am a member of a professional critique loop. They are the most wonderful women in the world, and they adhere to strong guidelines.

However, there's one guideline I'd love to see added --multiple offerings of the same chapter. I can see uploading the first time, finding you have major revisions, and uploading a second time for a final check-through. Most of the ladies do no more than that.

It's a pet peeve of mine, and IMHO an abuse of your crit partners, to offer the same chapter repeatedly. Twice is my limit, and only after major revisions. After that, you're nit-picking or looking for more than I can give.

That's one version of over-editing, or as I call it, over-feeding your Hag. We all have that inner editor who is a Hag. She's the bitch that keeps whispering foul things in your ear that make you lose confidence.

There's also another Hag - The over-zealous crit partner. The one who shreds your chapter, insists on knowing "Why?" to everything, and inserts her own voice unnecessarily because she didn't like the way you phrased something.

Occasionally not liking a turn of phrase is warranted. I have a foul mouth, and sometimes I go overboard or out of character. When my crit partners call me on it, they usually do so in droves.

I use and recommend crit partners. Get at least three to four. You want a democracy, just in case your style of writing brings out the Hag in someone.

One crit partner can be a pure "reader." That person is for the overall gut emotional reaction. She has to be willing to say more than, "Good!" I want to see smiley faces, laughter, calling the villain a rat b*stard, and smart comments to the characters. One of my all-time favorites was when my hero was pontificating a bit to the heroine. "Yes, Master Yoda!" told me more effectively than all the other crit partners combined that he was being an *ss.

I know I've done well when Terrie (who is my "reader") laces my chapters with comments, or shouts in the middle "Slit that SOB's throat!" If I can make Terrie grab her SO and run to the bedroom, laugh, sniffle, or tell me what an *ss the villain is, her words carry more weight than those who merely check my grammar. (Not that I have a crit partner like that anymore.)

Please, do it now. Team up. Find those compatible personalities. Find those professionals who write like you do. If you like dark, visceral tales find someone who writes them. If you are a "sweetness and light" fantasy writer, find someone who likes them. Get the idea? Historical writers should team up with others of that skill. That kind of in-depth research drives me bonkers unless the time period is an interest of mine. I'm not going to argue when buttonhooks were used or when the zipper became common.


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