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Jan 17, 2017:

Through the Critiques

Awhile back on Meta, I wrote about how we authors respond to critiques and the attitude that I thought we should take with them. I rarely see a critique as harsh anymore, but I do often disagree with the comments made. As the author, that's my perogative. But those comments can get frustrating when you read them, then read them again when applying them to the story in question.

Early on, I found a way that allows me to take into account what I want to use from a crit without having to reread the comments that don't work for me. I use green, yellow, orange, and pick highlighters, and a black marker. As I read through the printed out crits the first time, I go through and mark them: green for good stuff, yellow for things to consider, orange for more serious issues or issues that are repeated, pink for must change (such as spelling, missing words, etc), I leave comments that don't really help or bother me alone, and I black out anything I don't find useful. When I go through the piece I'm working on, I highlight the portions readers have pointed out in blue and make notes in the margins (unless it is a mist change, then I make those changes). My final pass before typing up my changes is to go through the piece myself, highlighting in green and making changes that incorporates what I see the piece needing and anything in the reader comments that I think works. When I've made all the changes I want, I type them up.

It seems like an invloved process, but it's become pretty much second nature to me. It gives me time to think about the changes being suggested and allows me to skip over comments that aren't all that useful to me or that frustrate me for one reason or another. When I'm going through that second read to make notes on the piece in question, I have gotten in the habit of skipping everything that's not highlighted. And, yes, I do note the positive comments on the piece as well. We all need to know what's working. ;)

So, "Painted" has been marked with my reader comments and is now ready for my personal notes. This story is one of two recent shorts that I actually am rather excited about -- I think "Painted" and a short tentatively titled "The Reckoning" are two of my best short stories to date. "Reckoning" is soft SF, something I've actually played with before. But "Painted" is supposed to be Magical Realism, a genre I've always wanted to try, but haven't been too sure I could pull off. According to the crits, I did pretty good.

Process & Craft, Short Stories

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