Finding Something Friday: Oopsies, Forgot This Critique Business

So, all that talk about critique and I forgot to mention the site I wanted to share with you. It’s about (You guessed it.) critique. Sheesh.

It’s called Ladies Who Critique, and I nosed around a bit over there and thought it looked interesting, especially for a writer who’s not quite ready to share her work with the world (or the other folks in her real, live critique group). Or possibly for the writer who lives out in Montana.
I don’t know why I always pick Montana when I think of people living out in the middle of wide, open spaces. I’m sure there are probably swell towns in Montana. There are towns there, right?
I feel as if I’m meandering off into my own wide open spaces here…the point is, Ladies Who Critique has opportunities for just about every kind of writer, for every stage of the writer. And it’s free.
So, there are no excuses left, ladies. It’s time to take the page by the er…send button, and get critique. Whether you do anything with that critique is up to you.

A Little Something About Critique

I have critique on the brain today. I needed to get a manuscript ready to send out for a formal critique at an upcoming conference. One of those paid critiques. So, as you can imagine, there was a bit (okay, a lot) of craziness involved. But here’s a little something something I picked up along the way.

A month or so ago, I attended a conference where I had this same manuscript critiqued. There were extensive notes, mostly about a frame I’d constructed for the story. Now, I really love this frame. But I also respect this evaluator. So I’d set the story aside and worked on other writing. Until this week when I pulled out the manuscript to review the notes. I figured I’d make a few corrections and let it go.

And then I read those notes. I read the heck out of those notes. The more I thought about that frame, the more questions I asked. In the shower, on my walk, folding clothes…I could NOT get those questions out of my head. I knew I needed the answer to this one, particular question: What was I trying to accomplish with that technique?

Once I sorted that out, I could work on the manuscript. And you know what? I kept a modified version of the frame. And now I know exactly why.

So, when you’ve got critique notes in hand, whether they’re the formal, paid kind, or the informal freebies, give yourself a little time to make those revisions. Let the ideas percolate awhile, and then before you do anything, consider why you will or will not make changes. Imagine that you have to defend your work. ‘Cause someday, when you’ve sold your book to a publisher and the editor has a little something something to say about your story, you need to be ready.

Chatty Cathy, Contests, and Critique (Oh, My!)

It took a while, but I finally got a Chatty Cathy doll.

Now, you’re probably thinking that a girl named Cathy would of course have a Chatty Cathy. You’d be wrong. You’re probably also thinking that I moved on past that whole Chatty Cathy deficit in my life. Wrong again. There has always been a Chatty Cathy hole in my life.

But no more! Now, Chatty Cathy sits (technically, CC can’t sit. She can only stand.) on my desk, keeping me company as I type away. And if I pull the little string behind her head, she says clever things, like “I’m hungry!” or “I love you.”

Sigh. I love you, too, Chatty Cathy. And maybe it’s my imagination, but I think my writing’s improved. Especially the dialogue. So a big thank you to my friend, Donna at Donna’s Book Pub. She sent CC my way as a thank you for being a judge for the Saturday Writers chapter of the Missouri Writer’s Guild Flash Fiction contest.

I love flash, and reading the entries was as much fun as pulling Chatty Cathy’s string. Judging the entries was not as much fun, because of course, there were more than a few winning writers and it was difficult to choose the top flash pieces.

Still, I’d judge again (and not just because I may get another swell perk out of the deal). Judging those flash entries made me think critically about the elements of flash, what worked in a piece and why another piece of flash didn’t quite work as well. And thoughtful critique makes Cathy a better writer.

So if you’re asked to be a judge for a writing contest, sey yes! It’s not just about giving something back; it’s also about improving critique skills and ultimately, your own writing. And now, let’s pull the string and see what Chatty Cathy has to say to brilliantly wrap up this post:

“I’m sleepy.”

Um, I guess even the coolest doll ever can have an off day. (I still love you, Chatty Cathy.)