I know I rant about critiques way too much, but they fascinate me. There are so many inspirational stories out there and some horror stories too. I’m surprised someone hasn’t pulled together an anthology exploring and exposing critiques.
Once I attended a conference and paid for a critique by one of my favorite category romance authors. I read all of her books. I thought her writing style and voice were similar to mine and that I’d get some valuable instruction from her. When I sent her my chapter, I mentioned what I felt were our similarities. NOTE: DON’T EVER TELL A PUBLISHED AUTHOR YOU THINK YOUR WRITING IS SIMILAR TO HERS–ESPECIALLY IF SHE’S GOING TO READ SOME OF YOUR WORK. That’s like telling a woman you barely know she looks like Barbra Streisand. Some people think she’s a beauty, some don’t. You have no idea how that woman will take what you may have meant as a compliment.
Uh, say what? Single dads/uncles/men do that every day. Don’t they? Well, they do during soccer season!
In addition to telling me what I could NOT do, periodically, she’d hit me on the head with my very own manuscript, yelling “Weenie sentence, weenie sentence.” She expressed herself well, painted quite the picture. And I think that was the equivalent of her exclamation point.
Critiques can wound us, make us or break us, make us feel like a dog, but they can also make or break those giving them. You, and you alone, have the final say about your manuscript–at least until you find an agent or editor. I’ll agree that we need to get rid of weenie sentences (if we can identify them) but don’t allow some weenie critique to steal your joy or contribute one ounce of self-doubt to your psyche. We conjure up enough self-doubt on our own, don’t we?