Monday, October 16, 2006

Writing Life

I’m thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of the romance community. Made up largely of women, it is for the most part a nurturing environment. Or at least it seems to be. The aversion to frank criticism is so strong that you have to read between the lines to evaluate any precious feedback.

I’ve heard tales of cruel judges’ comments or scathing critiques. But I haven’t experienced them. I’ve participated in three different critique groups with mixed results. I’ve met some amazing and generous women who’ve shared lots of hard won information on how to write.

Hard as it would be to hear my precious prose is purple or boring or simply the wrong tone – I think candid evaluation would be more useful than well-menaing kindness. I’ve read some mind numbingly bad chapters and have usually avoided commenting on them altogether. Raised on the axiom – if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything – I’ve chosen to critique only those who had elements I could praise.

Recently, I served as a judge. One of the comment categories – two things you especially liked about the manuscript illustrates my concern that too much kindness has the opposite effect.


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