Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Talking About The Top Ten

As I read through the Top Ten Commandments for Critique Group Members, I wondered: How many of them have I broken?
I'm good at keeping #1: The author is the final editor regarding what stays, goes or changes--but that is not necessarily a good thing.
When I receive a critique and I'm not sure I want to make the changes, #1 is my trump card. I'm the author, I have final say about what stays, goes or changes.
But here's a true confession: There were several things my critique group suggested I change in my manuscript for my book on late-in-life motherhood, Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood after 35.
But I made sure the way I wrote the paragraphs stayed. No changes. Until the day before I sent my manuscript to the publisher. Then I realized I was emotionally attached to my writing--not that it was the best writing. It was just the way I wanted to write it. So I changed it.
I admit that I've broken #4 more often than I'd like to admit: Keep your defensive barriers down.
Writing is so personal that it's difficult not to take critique personally. And sometimes, when I've written and rewritten and rewritten and think my article is singing--only to find my critique group has found the sour note--well, I get defensive. If I stay defensive, I'll never improve as a writer and my article will stay off-key.
Reading #7 made me say "Ouch" too: Do not justify the use of a technique.
If I have to explain something to a member of my critique group, then that means some of my readers will wonder, "Huh?!" And I won't be sitting with them to explain why I used a certain technique so it makes sense to them.
If you're involved in a critique group, you might want to give a copy of the Critique Group Commandments to each member--or give them a link to Scoti's post. Use her Top Ten to help your group stay on track and function in a positive, healthy way.

No comments: