You’ve decided to join a writing workshop to show your work and hone your skills. Right? You’ve read in the ad’s that, ‘members read and give constructive reviews.’ You want to be read! Did you quit reading before the end of the sentence? Did you miss the part about the critiques?
With excitement you think: “Will anybody read it? Will they like it?” Then, you take the plunge and, Merry Christmas! It was read! And it was critiqued. Oops.
“ but I did’nt expect anyone to rate my things! the "SPELLING & GRAMMAR POLICE"sent me a low rate!”
I’ve had more then a few express surprise at actually being reviewed. They don’t think to proofread or check their formatting, then they’re hurt when they receive a low rate.
Being critiqued is not easy to take by anyone, but especially for beginning writers.
Writing is our personal thoughts and feelings, our ‘babies’; and we want to protect them for as long as possible. But remember, reviewers are not judging you. I know that’s hard to accept, and you won’t believe it at first. Your words ‘are’ you, right? You’ve poured your heart and soul into them. You’ve looked forward to being read and enjoyed - praised. Believe me, I know.
If someone gives you an honest opinion of where your story isn’t working for them, try to be gracious. Don’t slam the reviewer or make excuses. Try to view your story through the eyes of the reader and understand for yourself why your point isn’t getting across. Read what the reviewer had to say.
Don’t edit or delete your work simply because one reader didn’t understand it or your feelings were hurt. Wait to see what other reviewers say. By clarifying what you meant to say, you don’t need to change the story - only the way you chose to tell it. If one reviewer makes a suggestion, and you don’t agree, then leave it alone. It’s your story. If several make the same suggestion, it would be to your advantage to at least take another look at that area.
The opportunity to have someone look at where your story is going wrong and offer advice should be treasured. Learn from the reactions of your readers; they are your future audience. That’s why we’re here.
“but it’s supposed to be slow-paced. I wanted the reader to think.”
“ my character is supposed to be inconsistent.”
“ you weren’t reading it right. You didn’t get it.”
“ but I wanted to leave the readers in suspense.”
“I intended to write with ambiguity.” (New writers love that one, and they do accomplish it.)
There’s nothing wrong with your story containing any of these elements. What is important is that the reader must be able to understand why you wrote it that way.
A writer who needs to make excuses for his or her writing is missing the point. The idea of writing a story is to take readers into your make-believe world for awhile, and make them believe it. Write so your words are clear enough to carry the images from your mind into the minds of your readers. If you feel the need to explain, then you haven’t achieved the goal yet. No one said it was going to be easy; in fact, it’s very hard. You’ll cry and tear up more than one writing during the journey. Just be sure you always keep the original. After a while, you’ll go back to it and see it in a new light. You really will.
Poor writers make excuses for their work. Good writers revise, tighten and polish until every word shines. Keep practicing, you’ll make it.