01 February 2011

For the Love of Critique Partners

On Friday last week, I hammered out 1667 words. It might not sound like a lot, but for me, these days, that’s a huge accomplishment. Plus it’s double quota, which goes some way towards making up for my week of not writing at camp ;) I finished off chapter 3 and wrote all of chapter 4 – albeit a short chapter four, slightly over half the length of chapters 2 and 3.

How was this magnificent feat accomplished, I hear you all asking breathlessly? (Work with me, here) Two words: Critique Partner. This time, it was the lovely Liana Brooks, but at various times and places it’s been a whole range of people. Li very kindly decided that she needed to read the next chapter of Jesscapades, and spent much of my afternoon bashing me over the head via gtalk to Get It Written.

So I did. Accountability, ftw! I wrote it, added in an almost-kiss that she gave me the idea for right as she was saying goodbye, and dutifully emailed the chapter off to her so she could read it while I slept. (yay time zones!)

Saturday morning I awoke to feedback. The chapter was okay - but tame. Lifeless. The MC was smarter than I was letting her be, as she'd already demonstrated in the previous three chapters.

I sighed.

And then I settled down to redo the chapter, better this time. In the end, I did; I showed Jess's examining of her new room-of-imprisonment, rather than skimming over it in a couple of sentences, I made her smarter, more active, let her plan a little - and then threw the MMC at her and watched her flounder. It was fun, and this time, there was a real kiss involved. And Liana gave it the seal of approval.

Why am I telling you all this? Because sometimes, even when publication is our eventual goal, we get lazy with ourselves. We rewrite and rewrite and rewrite, and get sick of rewriting, so we accept 'good enough' instead of pushing ourselves to write better, write harder. It's so easy, so tempting, to settle for good enough. But you know what? The reader can always tell.

So today - tonight - I'd like to give a shout out to Liana, for pushing me to write to my abilities, when all I really wanted to do was be lazy. I didn't want to hear that my chapter wasn't perfect, but she pushed me to write better, to write harder, and to write more honestly. Thanks, Li. I needed it.

This is the point at which you all have to now scurry off and say thanks to someone who's pushed you in your writing. *hint hint* But before you go, I'll leave you with two pictures of possibly the world's most comfortable footstool. And yes, the footstool put itself there with no input from me whatsoever. Best. Footstool. Ever.


Christine Fonseca said...

Awesome post. Cheers to those that force us to rise to our better selves.

Amy Laurens said...

Thanks, Christine. :)

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