Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Magnificent Seven

The right critique partner (CP) is a vital part of an author’s arsenal of tools. It’s like finding the right shoe – they might be the right size, but will they last – and how versatile are they? Can you wear them to work AND to the grocery store? But I digress.

It took me about six years, but about a year ago, through an online writing workshop conducted by the prolific Candace Havens, I met a great group of romance authors – we are not only all over the country (California to New Hampshire and places in between) but all over the world (Canada, New Zealand, Ireland).

We call ourselves the Magnificent 7 (even though there were eventually 8 of us, and by last count there were 9 of us).

So we’re not great at Math. We write stories.

One of the first things I noticed about our little group was the initial reluctance to share and/or critique and this came from, unfortunately, some devastating past experiences all of us had at one time or another. There is nothing that will ruin your creativity faster than doubt.

Let me just say it: there is a difference between CRITICISM and CRITIQUE. Some like to distinguish these with “CONSTRUCTIVE criticism” and “NOT SO CONSTRUCTIVE criticism”. And to that end, there is such a thing as subjective. Like: opinions.

To me, an opinion is not a particularly helpful form of critique. If you don’t like people who wear pink and I’ve got a character in my novel that makes it a habit to wear pink every day, it’s not helpful when you tell me:

“I really don’t like Nelly. She wears too much pink! I’ve decided: I can’t stand her.”

Woe. Hello. Not helpful. Subjective much?

Helpful? “Would love some more background on why Nelly wears so much pink. I feel like I need to see more motivation in that regard since it’s such an important character trait.”

Yeah! Helpful. (By the way, I’ve made up the above pretty sad example to illustrate a point.)

At the Mag7 group, we do critiques. And we are each other's cheerleaders, because let's face it, as a writer you need a few.

Thursday we begin a series of guests posts on the Harlequin So You Think You Can Write Global Contest of 2012. Several entrants, including some of the Top 28 finalists, have agreed to blog about their experiences with this awesome contest.

The top 28 contestants had to pull the popular vote which meant it was very important to be social media savvy, or at the least conscious. Only three entries were wild card editor picks and no, we don’t know which ones they were.

The contest will come up again later this year, so come and find out what you can learn from these entrants.

We begin with the wonderful Amalie Berlin, who has a manuscript under consideration with Harlequin's Medical Romance line.

Here is a peek at the upcoming schedule:

Thursday, February 7th: Fiona Marsden

Thursday, February 14th: Janie Crouch

Thursday, February 21st: Heather Gardner

...with more coming!

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes it is so difficult to know how to word things when people as for a critique. We have that sometimes on the design team for the stamp company. Someone asks for it and then gets upset when everyone doesn't just say, "Oh beautiful" It's hard to know sometimes if a person is seriously asking for a critique or if they are fishing for a compliment.
    Sounds like you have a great group that you can trust to give you an honest and helpful critique.