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NaNoWriMo

Well, November is here and I’m NaNo-ing. Getting things off to a bang, because my in-laws will be arriving this evening for three days. That’s sure to be fantastic for productivity.

At any rate, I’m being a NaNo “rebel” this year. Instead of embarking on a fresh, new idea, I’m doing that top-to-bottom rewrite of Persuading Anna that I talked about here. Is two months enough time to have mulled it over? I don’t know–we shall see! I gave it a new title and even created a cover for NaNo:

Let’s do this.

Doing NaNo and want to be buddies? I’m here.

Let’s talk about critique

There are a lot of articles going around right now about critique and a lot of them are very good. I’m going to try to address the power and the pain of critique from a slightly different angle. Because emotional response to critique is where 99% of the rubber ceases to meet the road in my experience.

Who am I to talk about this? I was an actress in a past life (like, seriously, I haven’t been on stage in 26 years, but I was an actor for 11 years*), and I am here to tell you that being critiqued on a performance is really nothing like having your writing critiqued.

It’s worse.

Imagine standing on stage (or more realistically, in a windowless, dingy rehearsal space) and feeling things. Making the lines someone else wrote personal to you, being passionate about something. Throwing yourself into a performance and feeling everything your character is supposed to feel.

And then being told, “Huh. I didn’t see it,” by just about everybody in the room.

This was you. Your voice, your body, your face. Attempting to convey emotion and meaning that nobody saw.

My point isn’t to play “which artist has it worse.” My point is to say I have some experience with dealing with intensely personal critique and to offer some of the strategies and techniques I learned to take the pain of critique and turn it into something better.

  1. Breathe. Really. Sometimes critique can make you feel like you were punched in the gut. It robs you of breath. Breathing helps you think, helps you relax and take in information. So check in with your body. Are you breathing? If not, do.
  2. Nod. Now maybe you’re thinking, Is she daft? Nod? Yes. Nod. What you’re hearing may be hard, but it’s probably true. Unless you have a critique partner (CP) who is intent on submarining you (and if you have one of these, get out. Now.) they’re relating their honest experience. The physical experience of accepting the criticism will hopefully soften your resistance. Your CP is telling you how s/he reacted to your piece. Is their experience universal? No. Is their experience valuable? Yes.
  3. Try to think of at least one thing you could change that might change your CP’s experience of the manuscript. I’m not saying to make those changes. I’m saying to think them through. Your CP has given you a lens to think about your manuscript differently. Use it. Take notes. You might make those changes. You might not. You might make entirely different changes. The point is, your CP is giving you a pivot point to work with. Work with it.

These are brief, Saturday evening thoughts. I’d be delighted if I got more suggestions in comments.

*I’ve spoken at conferences a bunch in the intervening years (fun fact: Adele Buck is my pen name, so looking me up that way won’t help much, but I’m also not hiding, so if you’re super diligent you might find me…though I can’t imagine why anyone would WANT to).

#1LineWed – June 15, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: Lines from Page 6, 16, or 160 (I did all three)

When Colin first meets Alicia, he makes the mistake of questioning her honesty because of her profession.

From Acting Out, in progress.

Ellie and Mari’s mother is a master of guilt.

From Software and Sensibility, completed work, as yet unpublished.

Anna’s sister-in-law Sofia assures Anna that her New Year’s Eve outing will be safe.

From Persuading Anna, completed work, as yet unpublished.

All of my #1LineWed responses

#1LineWed – June 8, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: Number.

Laurie defends himself against his boyfriend’s accusations of excessive shopping.

From Acting Up, completed work, as yet unpublished.

All of my #1LineWed responses

#1LineWed – June 1, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: Late.


Cath doesn’t know how to behave the morning after her best friend and business partner kisses her…

From Acting Up, completed work, as yet unpublished.

All of my #1LineWed responses

#1LineWed – May 25, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: Anger.

Former teenage sweethearts Anna and Rick finally talk openly about their past.

From Persuading Anna, completed work, as yet unpublished.

All of my #1LineWed responses

#1LineWed – May 18, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: a closing chapter hook.

When the discovery of Juan’s secret devastates Mari, her sister Ellie tells him where he can go.

From Software and Sensibility, draft completed, partially edited.

All of my #1LineWed responses

#1LineWed – May 11, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: opening lines (from any chapter)

In the previous chapter, passionate kisses on Ellie’s front stoop following a promising first date were interrupted by Ellie’s mother paying an unexpected visit. Though Ed, her date, handled being given his walking papers with aplomb, Ellie is mortified and frustrated.

From Software and Sensibility, draft completed, partially edited.

All of my #1LineWed responses