Sunday, November 21, 2010

Flattened Frogs and Critiques

A frog eye in its protruding eye socket, close up.Image via Wikipedia
A few nights ago I was walking around the track with a good friend. We were chatting away when I noticed this blob on the ground. It was a flattened frog. You know the sun dried kind that is shriveled up.  I didn't want to interrupt my friend, so I stepped over it.  But, as I walked the next lap I began to question myself. Was it truly a frog? On the track? In the city?
So, the second time around, I looked a bit closer. Which is quite hard when you are walking fast and talking. I still didn't say anything about it to my friend.
I did get a better look of it.  I was sure it was a frog.  How did it get there? Who stepped on it? Gross!
The third time around I told my friend. I thought I had better kick it off of the track so we wouldn't have to watch for it every time. We stopped walking and looked at it.
It was a piece of dirt in the shape of a flattened frog. Ya, I should have worn my glasses. 

What's this have to do with critiques?
1.  Take a good look at your manuscript. Slow down. Put it away for a week or two and revisit it. Whether it is 500 words or 50K, make sure it is in good shape before you ask someone to critique it.  I looked at that "frog" twice, but I did't slow down to look at it.

2. Ask people to read it.  Don't assume you don't need anyone to critique it before submitting to a magazine or agent.  Don't be shy of having someone read your work and give you feedback. Don't be prideful and think you can do it on your own.  Most, if not all, published writers have at least 1-2 critique partners.  Remember that critiques are there to only make your story better. If I hadn't asked my friend to stop and inspect the "frog", I would have been stepping over it for the rest of our walk.  

3. Use the critique ideas.  Strengthen your character, clarify relationship, stronger plot...whatever is suggested.  But, remember you do have the right to not make all the changes. *But, remember pride in #2.
Had I not agreed with my friend, I would still believe the dirt clod was a flattened frog.  

4. Give Thanks!  Be thankful for those who took time out of their busy day to read your story or article.  Tell them "Thank-You".
I sure was thankful my friend was willing to slow down and even stop to look at the "frog".

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