What to do with (gulp) Criticism…

dwarf-49807_1920I’ve had people ask me to critique their work, just as I ask my Beta readers to critique mine. For the most part, I’m happy to do it because it’s a valuable service if given and received in the right spirit. Any story born and nurtured in the writer, whether a life story or fiction, deserves to be brought to life.

I consider it an honor to be invited into that place of vulnerability in the writer’s process of giving birth to their infant work of art. It can be as frightening for me as for the writer, especially if the work is already published and I’m asked for my ‘honest opinion.’ Not all published works should have been released at that stage in their development.

If I had published my books before they went through the process of self-editing, beta-reading, professional editing and more self-editing, they would have deserved unbridled criticism, and I would have done one of two things: stopped writing altogether, or learned from the criticism. During the process, I learned, and wrote and re-wrote. If I hadn’t decided that enough is enough, I would still be re-writing.

No book is perfect. There is room for improvement in everything we do. It doesn’t detract from the value of the story we have to tell.

I ran across this article today, and thought it was something we can apply to anything we do in life. Any thoughts?

HOW TO TAKE CRITICISM AND TURN IT INTO GROWTH IN 5 STEPS

by Daniella Levy

It hurts to hear people say negative things about something you poured your heart and soul into. It hurts to recognize that you are not perfect at what you do and can always use improvement.

However, criticism–good criticism–is a very powerful raw material you can use to build yourself as an artist.

People generally react to criticism non-constructively in one of two ways: resistance (dismissing, arguing, or denying) or withering (collapsing in feelings of shame and inadequacy). Both of these reactions deny you the opportunity to learn and grow from the feedback.

To get the most out of criticism, you have to be humble enough to admit your work has faults, yet confident enough that you won’t wither. You have to push past the instinct to get defensive, and instead, get curious about how the criticism can help you improve your craft.

Let’s break it down into five steps.

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I Write YA fiction. Am I Doing It Wrong?

I came across an article written by a teen in the Huffington Post today that set me back on my heels and made me evaluate what I’m writing in my YA Sci-Fi TETRASPHERE series. I was happy to read that I’ve avoided at least some of her pet peeves, but there’s room for improvement. We can all use some guidance from members of our target audience, can’t we? I’m open. Here’s what she had to say:

I’m A Teenager And I Don’t Like Young Adult Novels. Here’s Why.

Written by Vivian Parkin DeRosa 

I know it’s an extremely unpopular opinion. This doesn’t mean that I’ve never read a YA book that I enjoyed. Some of my favorite books fall under the YA genre. But to be honest, I don’t typically like reading young adult novels.

 

Let me just say, this is NOT because I think YA isn’t real literature. I think as a society, we have a tendency to automatically dismiss genres that women (especially young women) really enjoy. Romance and YA are often seen as not ‘real’ fiction, which is stupid, because women and teenage girls are obsessed with both. And if you’re obsessed with something, that means it’s a good book. In my humble opinion, teenage girls are the ultimate judges on culture, even though we’re constantly shamed for our decisions and patronized by adults and teenage boys alike. (You can make fun of “White Girl” things all you want, but that does not change the fact that teenage girls of all races supported both the Beatles and Starbucks before anyone else did, and where would you be without your delicious coffee and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band?)

 

However, despite believing that YA is a genre worthy of literary awards and esteem, it’s still not my favorite. There are a couple of reasons why.

READ MORE…

Who is your tribe?

I don’t know about you, but I both read and write best when I’m alone or when the people around me leave me alone, which is in their best interest as well as mine while I’m engaged in that activity. I’m not anti-social, by any means, but delving into a book (or writing one) is like solitaire. It’s a game best played in solitude.

The flip side is that while I’m not actively involved in the place in my head where my characters live, I’m alive in this world and both want and need to be around others. This article points out how important it is for writers to get together with other writers. It resonated with me, and so I’m happily sharing it with you.

Are You Networking with Other Writers?

posted in: Writing Life | 0

Writing may be a solitary activity, but we need people in our lives who are just like us to keep us going. People who understand us, and will put up with our quirks and weird behavior.

That’s where networking and meeting people come in handy. It’s one thing to bump into friends at a conference, but it’s completely different when you’re at a small local event, or bonding with someone over coffee or lunch.

I’ve written in the past about the importance of connecting with other writers on social media, but it’s more important to find them in real life. Here are a few places to find your fellow word nerds and ink slingers.

(Read the rest of the article here!)

Any comments?

 

SOMETIMES, A LITTLE PUSH IS ALL YOU NEED.

I’m writing my third book in the TETRASPHERE series, and I’m close to the end, where the action heats up and my characters are about to face their greatest challenge; so why would I need a push? The story is going well, I see the next scene in my head, and I’m focused. So what’s the problem?

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The bog. If you write, you’re almost certainly familiar with it. You need a new problem to solve, a new action scene, a new twist for your readers, and you’re drawing a blank.

Maybe you’ve reached a point in your story where the characters are saying, “Let’s just finish this. I’m tired of all the drama and want to get on with a normal life.” Or is that you talking? Where’s the fun in ‘normal’?

How do writing prompts give you that little push you need? My husband the tennis-pro would call it cross-training. Doing something different improves the overall performance of any sport writing you’re already immersed in.

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I found this great information from a blog I follow: Ride The Pen, and I’m sharing it with you. You’re welcome.

 

63 Fun Creative Writing Prompts

Welcome to the creative writing prompts page! This is going to be so much fun, and all while you improve your story writing skills.

You can find all kinds of creative writing exercises here. All of them are fiction writing prompts, and they cover almost every genre, plus you can find creative writing prompts about dialogue, characters, plot, for writer’s block, and much, much more…

Interesting writing prompts

This is not the usual stuff. I tried to make these writing prompts intriguing. Most of them are complete scenes and even mini-stories.

You can have them. Yes, you own all the rights, even if you base your entire novel on them and get it published and earn a million dollars for the movie rights. They are all yours.

To become a really good story writer, there is only one thing you need to do: Write! And these creative writing prompts should inspire you to write. They should fire your brain up and make your fingers itch.

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I’d love to hear from you! If you find this helpful, please comment!

 

 

 

Lord, Help My Unbelief

A timely story for Halloween. Demon possession, a failed exorcism and then….

A Life Sanctified

This is a post from my friend Ben Nelson, author and blogger, who writes almost daily on his blog Another Red Letter Day.  Ben has this beautiful way of taking stories from the Bible and writing them in first person – becoming a character in the story – and this is one of my favorite stories.  In fact, he has a book out the walks you through 40 days with Jesus.  It’s remarkable.  Please enjoy.

There is no way to get rid of this kind of
demon except by prayer.
Mark 9:29

Help My Doubts

Father of a Demon-Possessed Boy

I remember the doctor saying to us, years ago, “Keep a record of his bad days.” My son—my eight-year-old boy—Enoch and I visited the doctor often in those first days. It’s been another eight years since we stopped going to doctors. For seven of them, we’ve found it easier to record the…

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Congratulations to the winners!

Although TERRA’S CALL didn’t win an award this time, I’m happy to say it was a finalist, and I’m thrilled to have met so many of the wonderful folks who won! Writers come in all shapes, sizes, ages, shades, and belief systems, and when we’re together in a nurturing environment like that at the Florida Writer’s Association conference, positive energy fills the rooms.

We celebrate the drive to write that links us and determine to make the motto of the Association our own: ‘Writers Helping Writers’. Every one of us, whether published or not, pours our heart into our writing. This Association pours their heart into celebrating what we do and giving us tools through excellent workshops and lectures to become better writers and to tackle those things we’re reluctant and often unequipped to handle. In my case, that’s marketing.

I hope you’ll take the time to look at the list of winners and read some of their excellent works. I know I will. How exciting that I KNOW them personally now! And now, I’m off to write the third book in the TetraSphere series!

Click here for a list of the winners and their work!

To see the books I’ve written that are available now, go to ptlperrin.org.

Beta Readers, It’s About the Book – Not You

I love this checklist for Beta Readers, and for me as an author! Thank you, Ashleigh Giannoccaro!

If you’re one of my Beta Readers, this should make it easier for you. I really do want your honest feedback. I promise I won’t cry too much. The blotchy look doesn’t look good with my blue hair.

When Hope is Lost (A Lesson from Birds) …

I love reposting Felecia’s blog posts because they’re always relevant, always full of hope and life. In this case, she reblogged a post that spoke to her, and so I’m reblogging her reblog. It speaks to me because people I love are in painful places. They need to know this.

A Life Sanctified

I like birds.  God sometimes uses them to slow me down … but that’s a whole other post.

I think you’ll love this Guest Post by Brandon Andress which was originally published on September 14, 2016 on his site www.brandonandress.com.  Please pay him a visit, he’s rather gifted with the written word.

Sunrise at Juno Beach 025

I have begun the process of changing my mind about birds.

Sure, you may not find a stranger first sentence than that, but those closest to me know that I have this unreasonable phobia of the feathered friend. It has something to do with a mother bird dive-bombing my head to protect her nest when I was five. And no, to answer your question, I was not bothering her nest. I was simply going next door to a friend’s house. But, there is no reasoning with a mother bird. Anyway, my neurosis aside, I am slowly taking…

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Who Says You Have to Do It Right the First Time?

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Where’s the fun in doing something right the first time? I’m asking honestly, because I don’t know how that feels. I can rarely get out of the house without returning for yet another item I forgot. It’s how I get my exercise.

Most recently, I had dinner with our son and his family. While our granddaughter did her homework and her mom prepared dinner, I plugged my Kindle and phone into the charger and left them on a chair. Everytime I glanced at them, I reminded myself to put them away, and then ignored my reminders.

We had a lively conversation during the delicious meal and I would have loved to stay longer, but the grandkids had school the next day and their parents had to get up early to work. So I left.

I’d driven about ten minutes when I reached for the phone to let Bill know I was on the way home. No phone. No Kindle, either, so I turned the car around. I couldn’t let the kids know I was coming back, so sure enough, when I pulled into their driveway, my son’s car was gone.

He was on his way to our house a half-hour away, or a one-hour round-trip. Thankfully, his wife was able to reach him and he turned around at the same place I did. I’m certain we passed each other along the road.

Because I didn’t do it right the first time, by packing up my electronics to take home, I had the pleasure of 1) seeing my family again and 2) experiencing the selfless, loving nature of my son and daughter-in-law once again. They’ve bailed me out more than a few times!

Anyone who has written a book knows that the first draft is only the beginning of a seemingly endless round of re-reading, re-writing, revising and editing. It should end when the book is finally published, shouldn’t it? Not in my case.

I finally published my eagerly-awaited second book in the Tetrasphere series, Triton’s Call. It was as perfect as I’d hoped; on its way to the number one best-seller spot. Right?

Wrong. I found a spelling error. So I corrected it and sent it through the process again. It was again available on Amazon in its perfectly corrected form. When the printed copy arrived, I excitedly opened it to read it as a READER, simply to enjoy the work of art it is.

Oh, no! I’ve misused the apostraphe! What a catastrophe! Grammar cop Patty broke the law! But that wasn’t the worst of it.Toward the end, during the most intense action, I felt as if someone in the book was foot-stomping annoyed with me. Who? Why?

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but the feeling wouldn’t go away. That night I couldn’t sleep, and sometime in the wee hours of the morning her face popped up in my mind and she was not happy with me.

I had forgotten to put one of my characters in the scene. Yipes!

So, within two weeks I’ve had three versions of my book for sale on Amazon. Those who pre-ordered Triton’s Call for Kindle will get the completely corrected version on October 5, including my now-happy character.

Those who ordered the printed version before the fully-corrected copy was available, make sure you keep it because it might be valuable someday when I’m on the New York Times bestseller list. Be sure to keep it someplace safe where the moths won’t eat it. It could be a very long wait.

If you did get that copy, you’ll know it when you run into one of the misused apostrophes. I have a list of the corrections available for you. Simply contact me on my website http://www.ptlperrin.org or email me at ptlperrin8@gmail.com and I’ll get it to you.

If, like me, you can’t seem to get anything right the first time, relax and enjoy the journey! Again and again…