Monday, May 07, 2007

Over the Phone

Okay, I've now looked up DWTS, found out it's on tonight, and plan to watch. I've also watched a couple of fuzzy You Tube videos, and I must say, Apolo is lookin' pretty good. I'm very excited.

As to the over-the-phone critiquing that occurred last Monday, I think it went well. We'd exchanged many, many pages before that and had gotten plenty of emailed feedback, but something wasn't quite clicking (at least for me). I couldn't really 'read' some of her comments, and so I wasn't sure how to take them. Plus, after the first chapter or so was sent, I wasn't getting any specific good comments, or at least not many.

The latter got cleared up on the phone: she mentioned in passing that she assumed I didn't want to bog things down with favorable comments and so had been only focusing on constructive criticism. Clearly, she doesn't know me very well: I soooo want to bog things down. I want to know what's working, what's funny, what struck a chord. I want to know all that good stuff so that the not-so-good stuff isn't so hard to take. If someone tells you that they LOVE your dialogue, but you need to really trim down the introspection (for instance), it's the the fact that they love your dialogue that keeps you motivated. At least that's what keeps me motivated.

So I don't think we solved that, because I didn't blurt all that out in the middle of her commentary, but maybe I should have. I'll just maybe mention it in the next email. All in all, it was good. We clarified some things, and I got a feel for how she feels about my WIP. We plan on going back to email and only phoning if something comes up that can't be dealt with in cyberspace.

But I do have a question for those of you with critique partners: when do you figure enough is enough? If your partner has read your first chapter four times already (for example), do you have them read it again after those final tweaks, assuming they're pretty big ones, or do you just assume you've got it and move on? I'd love some feedback.


Trish Ryan said...

I'm the same way - I need the sandwich approach to criticism: every "constructive" thing surrounded by two thick slices of "I love it!"

I'm too sheepish to ask people to read certain chapters more than twice, but that's just me. I've never worked with a formal critique partner, where re-reading is part of the deal.

ERiCA said...

Clearly, she doesn't know me very well: I soooo want to bog things down.

Bwa ha ha. Of course we want to hear the good stuff too! (That said, I'm one of those people who forgets to jot down the good comments, and has to remind myself to go back and put 'em in.)

As for my modus operandi with my CPs, I tend to send out the first draft bit by bit as I write it (never in chunks smaller than a whole scene) and save any comments I receive from them. Then once the whole thing is written, I revise (incorporating relevant suggestions) and then give them the shiny new version as one cohesive story. After that, they don't tend to see much except maybe a tweak or two on the partial if I'm getting requests for that.

I know there's a half life to my own usefulness if I read a CP's scene/chapter/whatever multiple times, especially in a short period of time. I become too close to the story and lose the ability to read like a reader. That's why I space my submissions to my CPs as I do--so hopefully, they can be objective.

(And entertained! I read the opening scenes of my last WIP so many times even *I* didn't care any more. You don't want a CP to feel like that! *g)

Best of luck with the CP relationship! =)

Tessa Dare said...

I have one CP relationship where we're pretty much over giving positives. It's kind of understood - if we say nothing about it, we like it. We focus on the parts that could use improvement. Occasionally, I'll ask - "So I may rewrite this scene entirely. What parts of it did you actually like?"

There were a few chapters of my first book that my two closest CPs read at least 4 times. I just wanted to keep trying until I got them right - but there were big changes each time, not just little finessing.

Henri de Montmorency said...

I figure enough is enough when...oh wait...I'm perfect the first go around!

Julie S said...

I tagged you!

And yeah, critiquing can be tricky but if you find the right person it's wonderful. That's good that you sorted through your issues on the phone.

I've been very fortunate that all my CPs have been very good with their comments, i.e., good balance between "good" and "bad" comments. But I have incredibly thick skin so if they're light on "good" that's fine with me.

I rarely send chapters twice unless I've made major changes. Then I do. But I think if you need a third or even fourth set of eyes, it's good to get feedback from someone new, to get a fresh perspective.

Lara Croft said...

Hi Alyssa - I was just sent your blog link by a friend and you've done such a great job with this site. In regards to your question, critiquing was once defined as neutral between positive and negative but has leaned more towards negative in connotation. When I work with someone on my writing I expect to hear both sides, but the ‘negative’ so to speak, should be regarding mistakes (i.e. typing, grammar) and then only directed toward something if it cannot be understood or doesn’t flow well. The criticism should never be about how I created it as long as the before mentioned is working for that scene. Everyone has their own writing style and that is part of the process that should not be infringed upon. As far as how many times do you go over the same thing, well, if there are some big flaws in how a scene is working then keep on it but once it is mended, then it should be turned back over to you to finish the polishing. Good luck to you -