Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Other Eyes See More

I've encouraged sending your work to a critque group or even to one other writer friend. Other eyes tend to see far more than your own.

We're often blinded to the inadequacies or minor grammatical errors in our own work. We 'see' the parts we like quite well and become somewhat oblivious to the rest. It is to your advantage to let other writers critique your work before you send it sailing off into cyberspace where you picture it landing on the desk of an editor who will scoop it up, hold it close to her breast and exclaim  "Just what I've been looking for!" Writers can be dreamers just like other people.

You don't want to hand a finished piece to your husband or best friend (in some cases they are one and the same!) because they care about you and your feelings. Plus, they are not reading with the practiced eye of a writer. They can easily miss important details that another writer might see.

But be careful who you select to read your work. A number of years ago, I was in a small writer's group. One of the women stopped me after a meeting and suggested we crit one another's work. I thought it was a great idea. She handed me several pages of a novel she was working on. I took it home and went through it. It was just plain awful. What to do? If I gave her a glowing report, I would be doing her a disservice, but if I told her what I really thought, even in as nice a way as possible, she might be truly hurt. I wrestled with the dilemma for awhile and finally decided to be honest. I did it as gently as I could, but she was crushed, hurt to the bone, and darned angry. Needless to say, our relationship crumbled and, to my knowledge, she has never been published.

Also consider your own attitude. If you submit work to other eyes, be prepared to take their comments in a constructive way. If you can't, then you're not ready for others to see your work and give their thoughts and suggestions. It didn't take me long to realize that those crits from other eyes would help me grow as a writer.

Just the other day, I submitted a new story aimed for a Chicken Soup book to my crit group. One of the first critiques I received pointed out that my final two paragraphs should be cut and might even be turned into a second story for the same book. I read through the piece again, and how right she was. The ending came far sooner than I was allowing it to. After it had been pointed out to me, it was so easy to see it. Had I just gone ahead and sent it in to Chicken Soup as it was, it would never have made the short list. Now, it has a better chance.

Yep, other eyes see things our own do not.

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