My reading is suffering. I haven’t been reading as much, and when I do, I have found a problem. You see, I’ve been doing a lot of critiquing/editing lately, and it’s ruining me. I can’t seem to get out of the editing state of mind! So as I read, I’m constantly rearranging sentences and adding punctuation and generally being one of those annoying grammar people…at least in my head. Certainly makes it hard to stay in a story when I keep finding things I would have done differently. But that’s my own problem.
Actually, I am really enjoying all the critiquing I have been doing. I am learning SO MUCH. I think everyone has a blind spot when it comes to editing their own work. You know what you meant to say, so that’s how you read it. Every. Single. Time. But, sadly, we can’t dive into other peoples’ brains and make them read with the same emotion and inflection that we imagined when we were writing, so we have to figure out how to evoke those emotions through the writing.
So, when I am reading someone else’s work, they have to make sure not to just tell me what I am supposed to be feeling, but they need to use their words and make me feel that way. Instead of, “She felt really sad and started crying,” which tells me that I should be feeling sad with her, but doesn’t really evoke anything more than a vague disinterested twinge of pity, consider, “Her breaths came in short gasps, lungs unable to draw in air as she was crushed under the weight of her emotion. Tears streamed from her eyes, but her blurred vision couldn’t hide the memories of what she had just witnessed.” (Please don’t take this as an example of my writing, just as a demonstration ;))
I really do have a blast going through someone’s work. And I’m not stingy with comments and suggestions. Sometimes I feel like I get a little harsh. I slash and cut and point out contextual problems (something I will address in another post soon), and basically tear someone’s hard work to pieces. Every time I send another round of edits, I expect to get an email back saying, “Okay, I don’t want to send you anything more. You’re mean. Never contact me again.” Instead, I get comments like, “Your eyes are like the most skilled mistake assassin force in the world.” Love it.
Thankfully, I have some really great CPs, who are awesome at taking constructive criticism. Where I feel like I’m being harsh, they feel grateful that someone was willing to point out a potential problem. And then they can choose to change it, or they can choose to leave it as is. I appreciate the same in them, that they point out problems and holes, and give me a chance to correct errors, rather than sending out dozens of queries with glaring mistakes that are going to send up red flags for agents.
And seeing the result of my input paired with their incredible writing talent? Priceless. I’m so proud every time I see a chapter that I got to help with, and how it has grown to its full potential. Like a proud mama. 😉 It’s what I love about teaching as well, and therapy, when kids actually follow through with our plans. (Hint: They don’t do it as often as I would like!)
As for me…I am trying to do some work on my own WIP while doing all this critiquing as well. So far today I wrote an entire scene…from a book that I haven’t even started writing yet. Romance, this time, I think. But now that I’ve written this blog, maybe I can focus on my other Adult Contemp for a while. Wish me luck!
PS – I wrote about editing a drawing book a couple months ago. Check it out here.