On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Writers and Critique

Writers and Critique: I have a critique group and beta readers, and much of the time I take their advice (especially my critique group). But I've been downloading some self-published ebooks -- I'm no stronger against temptation for a free book or a .99 cent book than anyone else -- and some of these books are by acquaintances and friends. And I wonder why they aren't better. Because I know these people, and I know they've been in writing groups for years (not my critique groups, not that I think anyone in my crit group -- ok Cate, but you're new, reads my blog).

Some people won't take critique. That's how it is. They WON'T learn. This is not aimed at them because they won't change.

And heaven knows, if I was stupid enough to put my first book up on amazon, I'd lose ALL my readers, because I wrote it without critique and it is TERRIBLE. Even the second version, with critique, is BAD.

And, I truly get that people believe their first work is good. I did. I still think the story isn't too bad (but probably more fit for a historical rather than a contemporary, and NO I will never put it up unless it's to demonstrate "do not do this").

And I understand that at whatever level, people are writing the best book they can and they believe in that book. After all, I do.

I guess it comes down to having people tell you the truth -- as much as it hurts to hear that truth. And the truth is, my friends, that your work you say is contemporary is not, it's dated; or that wo/men never behaved like that, even in romance; or that there's nothing original in your plot and your characters aren't enough to carry me along. MY OPINION.

Of course I would never say that to their faces, especially about a work they've already published. And I guess that makes me a hypocrite.

Okay, I would say that to them if they asked me. Thankfully, they haven't.

Thinking about this, I believe the point of this blog is that if you're a writer, you need critique and you need editors and you should listen to them. (And, yes, I am waiting for editorial comment on Enchanted Ever After, why do you ask? I'll have to listen to my own advice. ;) )

Enjoy your day.
Robin

7 Comments:

OpenID lisalgreer said...

I agree! I have self pubbed some things, but the majority of my work and pen name work is with small presses. Once I found a couple great editors at one of the small presses, my work really took off! What I see as the major issue is just that: too many self pubbed authors don't have not just editing but good editing by experienced editors (preferably, ones who write themselves and are at a higher skill level than the writer who is being edited). Now, I have an editor who is like that for my self pubbed titles, too. She's a couple rungs up from me in her accomplishments/publishers. That is the biggest problem I see in self pubbed work, and I'm asked to review a bunch of it (and I turn down stuff that has the signs of not being well edited or edited at all: too much filtering, wordiness, boring writing, telling, head hopping, infodumps and more). And I think a lot of self pubbed authors think, oh, my friend or spouse can proof this for me. That just doesn't cut it.

9:01 AM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I can't say enough for good editing.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Aaron M. R. said...

Writing books is hard. I wish it were easier. But it's hard, and so, I need all the help I can get.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Silver Phoenix said...

The problem for most of the self-pubbed authors is that their editors are competitors. How do you know when an editorial comment from one of them is to make your book... a better book by you, or the book they wanted to write themself?

I had a writer's group critic like that -- her criticisms were about making my stories more into HER stories. Changing a plot completely, making a point that I didn't want to make, getting rid of a character she didn't like personally. I didn't want to write her book, she needs to write her book. I wanted to write MY book.

Most self-pubbed authors haven't got access to professional editors who don't have a dog in that fight (so to speak.) And if you're going to have an editor, you need someone who isn't going to confuse the faults in the book with their issues.

I'd take critique if someone would offer it honestly, and make it just about my book and not theirs (but the strangers who've read my book say they loved it and don't give criticism, so I've gotten no critique so far.) How is someone to know if their book is bad or not if the only criticism they get amounts basically to "I would tell a totally different story, but in your voice." ?

10:43 AM  
Blogger FantasyAuthor RobinDOwens said...

Yes, editing matters. Silver, one of the first things I learned in critique group many years ago is that the story is THEIR story. What you would do should be irrelevant, give critique within those bounds.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Silver Phoenix said...

At what point is the writer allowed to take ownership of her own story? She wanted me to change my protagonist to a minor character. I don't even get to choose my own protagonist?

What's the point to sharing your writing if you never get to tell your own stories?

And why am I telling the story of another writer when she can do it (and do it better) herself?

1:25 PM  
Blogger FantasyAuthor RobinDOwens said...

OMG, Silver, I obviously didn't communicate well.

The story is YOUR story, the story is the WRITER'S story, not anyone else's!

I was referring to myself as a critiquer. If my friend's story doesn't go the way I want, that's too dam bad. I am to help her make it better within HER characters and plot. That should be a critique rule.

If something doesn't really feel right, don't do it!

However, if, say, three people have problems in the same spot, I'd say eyeball that spot hard.

As for your particular critiquer, it sounds as if you're better off without her.

2:50 PM  

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