Monday, August 19, 2013

The Importance of Getting A LOT of Critiques

WOOOO!!!! Last Friday's post was my 200th post on this blog! I'm so happy. I loved blogging, and even more, I love this community.

We all know that, in writing, getting critique partners and beta readers to read over your work is almost crucial to get a great, polished book. But I don't think we realize just how truly important it is.

This will be part of my long-forgotten "Myth-Busting Writerly Quotes." The Quote to be Myth-Busted is "We must get critique partners," and I am proving it, but Mining it to get more out of it than what we think we know.

Take, for example (again) JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. Now look at it's book cover.
The front (I do not own this picture)
The back cover, taken from this website:

Now, many of us know that the book's cover was sort of met with disappointment. You can read my reaction over here.

And just maybe a month or two ago, I got the greatest idea of how this book cover could have been INCREDIBLE. You see the back cover image above? See the silhouette of the town of Pagford? And now look at the front cover, and the box and the x. Now replace the two images; flip the town for the check box. (You really need to sort of imagine it because the picture for the back cover was the best I could find, and it still isn't good. Image it upright, crisp and clear, lusciously black like the check box. Then mentally switch the images.)

If you are like me, you'll be stunned. I was. I was almost tearing my hair out because I kept thinking, "This book cover could have been STUNNING if someone just saw this very simple, but easily overlooked 'fix'!" I seriously think that the book cover would have been incredible if the town was on its front cover instead of the back; it would have fit the tone and story of the book so much better because, at its heart, this book isn't about the election - it's about the town and its people.

What this teaches us is this:

Get new and FRESH eyes to look over your work.

It took me, someone who bought the book on the day it came out, many months to come up with the blinding realization that this book cover could have been so much better (I still like the cover, but it could have been more incredible!).

Fresh eyes will find a way to fix parts of your novel in ways you might never have imagined. True, you can rely on yourself to do this, but can you truly distance yourself away from your work? Raw, unbiased, harsh, distanced critiques are what will turn your writing into something fantastic.

There are so many possibilities, so many ways to fix whatever problem you are facing in your novel. And if you can't find a way to fix it, maybe it's time you get fresh eyes on it: give it to someone who never read your book, tell them NOTHING about the problem (really, don't even hint at it), and let them come to you with their unbiased, casual suggestions. 

It will be like the way sometimes you can't think of a word, and if you tell someone else the meaning of the word, somehow they suddenly can't think of the word either; but then maybe someone else says it out of the blue and BANG! You found the word. You just need fresh eyes.

So go, go with fresh eyes into your writing!

This quote, "We must get critique partners," has officially been Mined because sometimes, we need fresh critique partners.

How important are fresh eyes for you? Any stories about how someone 'magically' fixed a problem in your writing that you puzzled over for days?


  1. My sister's done that for me a couple of times without finishing her beta reading duties. <.<

    I commented after you commented on my query but still don't know how Blogger works. >.< If you'd like to read over my most recent revision, that would be great! <3

  2. That's why I have two test readers and three critique partners. I need all the help I can get.

  3. Fresh eyes are FABULOUS! Sometimes they solve mysteries for me without even knowing that was an issue for me. I have ALL THE LOVE for readers. <3 <3

  4. Great point! Fresh eyes are vital - and sometimes hard to get. It's easy to get in a rut with cps so keeping it fresh is truly important :)

  5. So true, critique partners point out the obvious we sometimes miss - knowing all the answers and assuming others do too!

    And yes all is fair in book sells even flirting. Just be good at it! :)

  6. Yes, but they must not be people who want to stroke our egos :).

  7. Agreed. You can't have enough eyes on your work!

  8. Great example with the cover, SC...

    And gosh... holy, fresh eyes are EVERYTHING... sooooooo important!!!!! Absolutely necessary. (But it's important to be wary--make sure you have eyes you can trust and eyes that know their stuff...)


  9. I agree with you, but at the end of the day it's all perspective. Nothing more.

  10. So so true. And I completely see what you mean. Covers are a make or break deal IMO. We just get too close to our projects sometimes and cant pick out the problems. It's good to have trusty CPs for that!!

  11. you're eyes are "so fresh and so clean clean".