Critique vs Opportunity   Leave a comment

There is a line from George Lucas’ Star Wars that springs to mind here. “Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

Barring the semi-cheesy source of the above quote, there is a great truth here. Particularly in the realm of writers and critiques. To be honest about it the only difference between a critique that is devastating, and one that is an opportunity, is our point of view.

One of the aspects of The Speculative Fiction Group’s critiquing marathon that I have glossed over is the vote. Each of the members who are kind enough to beta read, and critique your work gets a vote. This vote determines whether you are allowed to post your next chapter, or if you need to do a major rewrite and re-post the chapter in question.

Now, I can not speak for anyone else involved in Marathon, except for myself. I wouldn’t be arrogant enough to presume to do so. So, if this post comes off as a little self-centered, I beg your indulgence. It is only by necessity and not my intent.

So far I have been lucky enough to have my yes vote outweigh my no votes. Remember, though, that the week isn’t over yet and things can turn around real quick. Even so, I have taken every suggestion, both technical and storytelling, to heart. I will be doing a rewrite of my first chapter regardless of whether I decide to post the next, or not. Yes, even with a continuing number of yes votes it is still up to the writer whether, or not, they decide to continue to the next chapter. You are allowed to do a rewrite and post the same chapter with improvements.

I’m still debating whether, or not, to do so.

My point is; I look at every suggestion based on the merits of the suggestion. A consensus on any certain point is a red flag that I need to work on that section. The others depend on certain facts. Did I do my research, and know better from that, or personal experience. As well as the fact that I know the story, the critiquer does not.

Some of the seeming negatives that I have received have excited me. Why? Because they let me know that I have the reader playing right into where I want them to go in the story. Others have let me know that I haven’t been clear enough to drive my story into the area that I need it to go in. My point of view is what makes the difference. And none of these negative points have offended me. Quite the opposite, they have given me an edge. 😉

One of the biggest questions that I ask myself during a negative point in a critique of my work is, “Does the critiquer have a valid point, or is it just my ego getting in my way again?” You would be surprised to know the number of time the answer is E-G-O.

Fortunately, I already know I am no Hemingway, King, Wilde, or Eyre. I hope to be, but I certainly am not at this point in my career. Maybe I never will be, but that is for fate and hard work to decide.

At the moment I am reminded of an aspiring author who went ballistic over what they perceived to be a bad review from a professional critic. My fellow storytellers will know who I am speaking of, so I don’t plan on using any names, or pointing fingers.

What amazed me was the review wasn’t a fantastic review, and the critic did point out some legitimate points. But, they also had some nice things to say about the story as well. Unfortunately, this particular author chose to focus on the negatives only and threw a public temper tantrum worthy of a three year old. The result was the author lost potential sales, and their ranking dropped with meteoric speed. In short their point of view cost them a opportunity to do just the opposite.

I read the review, and what stuck in my mind was that the critic in question said, up front, that they liked the story, and was impressed with it. The author’s reaction totally baffled me. (Personally, I would have latched onto that point like a Pit Bull!)

Here was an up and coming author who was lucky enough to have a critic review their work. I would give my eye teeth for such an opportunity. And they were even luckier that the critic gave them a pearl along with the mud. But, the writer’s point of view took a potential opportunity, and turned it into a total disaster.

Hopefully, if I am ever lucky enough to land such an opportunity, my point of view will allow me to take advantage of it. If not, please do me a big favor. Put a .357 cartridge between my eyes, and put me out of my misery. Blowing an opportunity like that over a wrong point of view deserves an execution. 😀



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