Tuesday, March 19, 2019

It’s My Critique and I’ll Cry If I Want To… By Shannon Redmon

A good writing critique can make us sing or a bad one can fill us with negative words stuck to the walls of our mind. We plaster a polite look on our face with each dissenting comment, but inside doubts creep in and hinders our creativity. 
However, if we can change our perspective and recognize the plethora of lessons tucked inside the statements offered, a critique can be a valuable tool in our writing arsenal. 
But how do we go from dreading our turn in the group to utilizing the feedback in transforming our stories?
Understand the purpose. We don’t submit our work to a critique group to hear praises for our written words. Perhaps we hope we’ll be encouraged by what others have to say, but in all honesty, we submit our stories to hear how we can improve. Few novels make their debut on the shelves without multiple edits and rewrites. A good critique should help us meet that goal, even when it stings.  
Put the emotions aside. Yes, every word on that paper is precious in our sight and so are the authors reviewing our work in progress. Most want to help writers succeed. Critiques are not meant to hurt, they are meant to help. When we remove our protective feelings and realize feedback makes our writing or our rewriting stronger, then critiques become easier to handle.
Listen, don’t argue. An understood rule in most critique groups is for the person being critiqued to listen to the feedback without comment. This is often difficult, but necessary if we want to hear what our readers feel while absorbing the story. This takes some humility and has been one of the best teachers of writing quality work. 
Pay attention to patterns. When more than one person in the critique group gives similar feedback on sections of our writing, then we should take notice because our readers will, too. These are the areas where we need to focus and improve. On the other hand, if someone offers a lone suggestion, then whether to use the advice is up to us.
Decide for yourself. Critiques provide many suggestions on how to improve our work and if we are wise then we’ll make the necessary changes. However, at some point, we’re the ones who need to decide when the work is complete. If we continue to submit over and over, then the group will continue to give feedback. The goal is to learn from the advice given the first or second time and then apply the lessons learned to future works in progress, ending the cycle.
Build relationships. One of the main benefits to joining a writing critique group is to build friendships with other writers striving for the same goal. More often than not, these relationships support us when discouraging times come. 
Instead of hiding our writing away, afraid of what others might think or running to the bathroom to hoard a roll of tissue for our tears, let's dust off our manuscripts and allow other authors to help us improve. 
Because there's always a lesson to learn.
Shannon Redmon remembers the first grown up book she checked out from the neighborhood book mobile. A Victoria Holt novel with romance, intrigue, dashing gentlemen and ballroom parties captivated her attention. For her mother, the silence must have been a pleasant break from non-stop teenage chatter, but for Shannon, those stories whipped up a desire and passion for writing. There's nothing better than the power of a captivating novel, a moving song or zeal for a performance that punches souls with awe. A rainbow displayed after a horrific storm or expansive views on a mountaintop bring nuggets of joy into our lives. Shannon hopes stories immerse readers into that same kind of amazement, encouraging faith, hope and love, guiding our hearts to the One Who created us all.  
Shannon Redmon’s writing has been published in Spark magazine, Splickety magazine, the Lightning Blog, The Horse of My Dreams compilation book, Romantic Moments compilation book, Seriously Write blog and Jordyn Redwood’s Medical Edge blog. Her current fiction novel was selected as a top three finalist of the 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest and she is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency.  

Connect with Shannon:  
The StoryMoore Blog, named in memory of her father, Donald Eugene Moore.