Monday, 15 April 2013

Why is the bad stuff so easy to believe?

I'm a member of an online critique group, and I received a tough crit this week.  Usually, I take both the rough and the smooth with a generous bucket full of salt. But this crit? Ouch! True or not, it really hurt. It was like getting a boot in the family jewels...not that I have any...but that's beside the point.

Must we spoon feed our readers every little detail? I'm not a fan of BiBo (breathed in, breathed out) detail. It makes for dull reading, imo. I'm writing a book not a movie, for fecksake! That's why the Big G gave us an imagination! Books need an imagination. Movies, love (some of) them though I do, are an effortless form of entertainment. Switch on, zone out. That's it.

Why is it, I wonder that one negative crit has the power to make me question the accuracy of a dozen positive ones? I know it's stupid, but I've never been confident about my writing. Some critters have accused me (in a nice way!) of being falsely modest when I say a chapter is nit-ridden in my author notes. I'm really not. Some days, all I see are the faults.

I don't mind anyone saying 'Hey, take a look at Martha here, She's coming across as a bit wooden.' That wouldn't upset me at all. I'd be damn grateful. But there's a very fine line between brutal honesty and being mean, I think. Personally, I question the ability of any writer who wounds a fellow writer, especially when the injury is unintentional. What does that say about their mastery of words? More importantly, what does it say about them as a person?

How did I react? I gritted my teeth and wrote a polite thank you to the person for their time and effort. What else can you do?


  1. Your article resonated with me because a number of these thoughts have been on my mind recently.

    > I received a tough crit this week. My characters are apparently 'flat, 2D, emotionless and unrounded.'

    That's why we get the big bucks. We've got to be tough. Of course, it hurts. It would hurt me too, if I had a heart. Fortunately, ...

    Good for you for your forbearance in responding. Keep in mind, that, just because your critic could not, herself, do it right, does not necessarily mean she was wrong about your writing. I can sometimes hear wrong notes that I could not possibly hit.

    > Must we spoon feed our readers every little detail?

    My girlfriend (who writes novels) and I have discussed this up one side and down the other. It may have been Ed McBain (one of my favorite detective book authors) who advised against describing all the furniture in the room.

    There are two sides (perhaps 2 million sides). No, of course not, you do not need to spoon feed every little detail. On the other hand, I think we have an obligation to keep the reader oriented and entertained. Again, the big bucks.

  2. Thanks, Frank! :)

    It's difficult, isn't it? I'm over it now. Darn egos! We'll never please everyone, never make everyone love us, no matter how much we want them to.

    I'm going to try and focus on the people who DO like my style in future. However, the bad crits are good for me. They stop me becoming complacent.

    Thanks for commenting! :)


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