Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Slaying the Criticism Dragons

Apologies once again on behalf of publicist Jeane Wynn. Another family crisis prevented her from joining us today.

One thing we Seekers are really good at is commiserating with each other over rejections, bad reviews, and cutting contest critiques. As my pastor said in his sermon yesterday, it doesn’t seem to matter how many times we are praised and complimented. The stuff that sticks in our minds is the criticism. It lodges in our psyche and nibbles away at our self-confidence until all we’re able to focus on is our failure.

You’ve heard the old saying, “You can’t please everybody.” Some days it feels like you can’t please anybody! The naysayers pour out of the woodwork like a herd of termites. But if we’re going to survive and thrive in the writing business, we have to find creative ways to get past the negativity. We must learn to celebrate our successes, put our failings in perspective, and keep writing.

Here are a few websites to turn to when you need help slaying the dragons of criticism:

Your turn to share . . . if you dare!

PLEASE do NOT name names or reveal any other identifying information, but now’s your chance to air your dirty laundry--er, reviews, rejections, or critiques.

What are your favorite coping strategies?

What helps you keep the negativity in perspective so you can keep writing?


  1. It's funny how that works - our inclination to focus on the negative. Last night I was focusing on the negative... not a rejection or anything. I just had this "poor me" complex last night that wasn't helping anybody. Hubby and I went on a walk and I got my head right. I started focusing on all the blessings in my life (and there are many) and my mood shifted big time!

    This is a great post considering Genesis results are coming soon! Great links! Thanks!

  2. Good morning, Myra! Thanks for the awesome links for coping with criticism. As one site pointed out, it's easy to be a harsh critic on the Internet. People say things they'd never say to someone's face.

    Hopefully contest judges will give their feedback in a gentle manner or wedge it between praise of what's good about the manuscript so the criticism won't hurt as much. But as we say often in Seekerville, we writers have to develop that rhino hide to survive.

    I brought coffee and cheese blitzes this morning. Guaranteed to soften any blow to the ego.


  3. In the end, I think critism will either break you or make you stronger. I CHOOSE to let it make me stronger.

    That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt in the process though.

    Okay, my experience was at a conference last year. I had an agent take a look at my onesheet and role their eyes. They sat back and ripped it to shreds, said it was WAY overdone but could only point to one book, published years ago, that was similar. They offered some crazy idea to change it that made NO sense.

    I left that appt feeling really discouraged with the publishing industry in general. If they treated people like THAT, then did I really want to be part of it?

    BUt I decided that person wasn't worth my time or energy. They obviously thought very highly of themself (body language oozed it) and I would NOT be destroyed by someone who gloried in making others feel lower than themselves.

    Plus, maybe they was just having a bad day. Maybe they struggle with low self-esteem. Maybe their cat just died or something making them irritable...

    *grin* I like to give people the benefit of the doubt!

    SO, there is my story! Off to work. I'm taking a cheese blitze on the way... hope you don't mind!

  4. Dealing with criticism.

    First, I eat peanut butter (the real stuff). Heck. Use a spoon if you don't have anything else.

    Second, I whine to critique partners, who gently console me (they probably should just tell me to 'snap out of it'. . . picture Cher's character in Moonstruck).

    Third, I let it bother me for a bit, then I get back to work. God is in control. I do my best for that moment and He's in charge of the rest.

    Cheese blitzes! yum!

  5. Great post, Myra. It does seem that criticism comes easily to some people. I think it's often more of personality thing. For example, my brother is analytical. His job involves deciding how to make things run better. His critical eye is vital, and he's good at it.

    The problem sometimes comes in the delivery. That's why I liked this quote of one of your wonderful sources. "If it's very painful for you to criticize your friends - you're safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that's the time to hold your tongue. -- Alice Duer Miller"

    I think that attitude helps me when I receive criticism. I look at the person's motivation. If it's an editor, I know they're not motivated by making me feel inadequate. A few other people--well, we've all met a few who feel better when they are able to make you look worse.

    Pass the cheese blitzes. That's too much thinking this early.

  6. I keep the great compliments close to my heart. Constructive criticism or criticism that resonates doesn't usually hurt. But the comments I don't get or are just plain rude, those are tougher. That's when I pull out the kind comments. In fact, one of you Seekers judged a manuscript of mine and I keep those comments she made in a folder because they were so incredibly uplifting. Then I pull them out and wallow in praise when I'm feeling blue. :-)

  7. Myra, you so hit it on the head! The joys and euphoria we feel over success and praise may have a high and spike, but it's the criticism and negative comments that shadow us long after the bubble has been deflated.

    I remember one contest just a couple years ago where the final judge-a dream editor of mine-gave my entry so many 1s and 2s, it made my head spin. She also suggested I find a critique group before entering any more contests...

    This same editor happened to be the final judge in another contest this ms finalled in. Bummer. I really wanted to do well in this contest, but since I really didn't change the ms much since the last time she saw it, my hopes were next to nil.

    Imagine my surprise when I received first place and a request!

    Okay, so what's up with that??

    In the end, she did end up passing on it, but the questions burned inside of me and I never had the chutzpah to ask -- why did you hate it first and love it later??

    Funny, I developed a relationship with this editor I truly cherish, but it's the harsh comments SHE gave me just that once that over shadowed all my joy.

    Wish I could say I was over it... : )

  8. This is an area I have to revisit over and over. I think I've conquered the hurt over something someone has said or done to me, and then, when I least expect it, I find myself replaying the incident in my head. I turn it over and over, like a monkey with a Rubik's cube. I realize I've pulled that criticism off the alter I laid it on when I gave it to the Lord. Then it's time to confess, give it back, and get on with things.

  9. I just try to remember my recent successes and remind myself of the positive comments I've received. Also, when I first started entering contests I'd remind myself that the things pointed out were things I could change. Yes, I could grow and improve and make my writing better as long as I didn't quit and kept working at it.

  10. Oh, Myra, THANK YOU ... for offering me an opportunity to VENT!! The "Criticism Dragons" are out in force when an author has a new book out, and with the release of A Passion Denied, it seems I've had to slay more than my usual share. The worst was a blog reviewer who said she put Denied down halfway through because "In my opinion, smut is smut. Even if you slap God's name in it on occasion it's still smut."

    Now, I have to admit THAT ONE hurt a lot, demeaned me, made me feel like a bad person (judgment) and actually had me ranting and raving to my husband, which is something I haven't done in a long, long time. You see, it was THAT mindset that turned me into a Bible-burning agnostic before I came to Christ at the age of 23, so it struck a real nerve with me, I'm afraid.

    BUT ... there is only one way I deal with criticism like that or any criticism for that matter, because for me, it is a matter of keeping my heart clean before God so my prayers are effective (the prayers of a righteous man availeth much). As much as I didn't want to (and I didn't!), I prayed for that broad until my teeth ached, and then I prayed some more -- that God would bless her and heal her if she has sexuality issues, because there's a good chance that she does.

    And, Katie, move over, honey, because the "poor me" thing tends to camp out on my doorstep regularly, and man, how I hate it! And you are SO right ... a heart of gratitude will help kick it in the teeth for sure.

    I sure needed this post this morning, Myra, so thanks for letting me vent.

    Big hugs,

  11. Janet, so glad you popped in with the cheese blintzes! I brought a bowl of strawberries and blueberries, and also some French vanilla creamer for the coffee.

    Katie, I think we all suffer from "poor me" syndrome from time to time. Like you, I can get it for absolutely no reason I can pinpoint. Thank the Lord for understanding husbands!

  12. Krista, so sorry about your conference experience. I've had a few bummer encounters like that, myself. These people are professionals, right? So can they--ahem!!--possibly be wrong???

    YES!!! Editors and agents have bad days just like the rest of us. And personal tastes. And fluctuating attention spans.

    And as Audra pointed out, her finals judge ended up liking her ms. enough to request it even though she'd scored it way low in a previous contest. Go figure!

  13. Lorna, I like that quote you found--that if we're uncomfortable giving criticism and not taking pleasure in it, then we're probably safe giving it. A good thing to pray about whenever we're in that position as a crit partner or contest judge.

  14. Julie, truth be told, you were heavy on my mnd while I composed this post. When my pastor made that statement Sunday about how the negative comments are the ones that loom large in our minds and blot out all the praise, it really struck a chord, and I knew it was something all us Seekers need to be reminded of.

  15. I approached a well-known, well-respected agent at a conference. They asked for a full. Six weeks later, I got a one-line letter signed by the agency's assistant: "I didn't find this up to my standards." Took me a long while to recover.
    Now, years later, I realize--it wasn't up to my standards, either.

  16. What springs to my mind is a contest entry of YOURS I judged about three years ago.

    It didn't win.

    Myra still has a voodoo doll of me she sticks pins in. They're working honey. OUCH!

    And the real ouch for me...as a judge...who gave you a PRETTY GOOD SCORE, MYRA, WILL YOU

    Is that now the book is published and I just recently read it and it's wonderful. One Imperfect Christmas. A very beautiful story of love and pain and conflict and faith.

  17. Julie,
    I love how you write. It resonates with so many people and I think the ones it doesn't resonate for (or offends) are probably women who've never experienced feelings like that.
    I love a REAL romance, with all the tingles, heat and temptation that goes with it. I'm glad you prayed for that lady and I'm glad you're able to see the criticism for what it is and where it comes from. :-)

  18. Oh, and let me add THIS....

    A lady I know who shall remain nameless just got her Golden Heart scores back.

    Total perfect score would be what? 36? Is that right? Four 9s?

    Her score was like...can someone remind me? It was 34.75 or something like that. Can you IMAGINE scoring that well and not finalling?

    This is sort of disturbing because these entries must be getting 4 perfect 9s. So that makes giving an 8 or a 7.5 a sure fire "You're OUT!" score. It's crazy that the scores are so high.

    My children used to be in 4-H and we'd go to the county fair and the prizes were Purple ribbon, Blue, Red and White. Well, at some point they made the decision to quit giving white ribbons because it was too hurtful.

    But then the red ribbon just becomes the white ribbon. Nothing really changes.

    So now they're scoring so high in the GH, a 36 score is needed to win. A 35 becomes average and a 34 is losing.

    I know the scores can go lower than that but, speaking as a judge, you need to make that call when you've got an entry in your hands and know that, if you give the entry a 7 or 7.5 you are in effect, destroying their chances, when it would be reasonable really to think you were scoring really high.

  19. Mary, you are too sweet! And I HAVE let it go!!! (Not hard to do with the advance check in the bank--LOL!)

    Seriously, a perfect example of how we can grow through criticism. Mary was right about so many things in that book's previous incarnation. And I know her comments were made with all the right motives. SHE TOOK NO PLEASURE IN CRITICIZING MY BABY WHATSOEVER!!!!!!

  20. I don't know what it is lately, but people seem to delight in mean, snarky comments (I'm not referring to you, Ruthy. I'm referring to mean, heartless comments. You have a wonderfully spunky heart.) It fills so many aspects of our lives, from our entertainment to feedback from agents, editors, judges, and critiquers. While talking to my daughter last night after she got a dose of snark from her employer, I called it the Simon Cowell syndrome. I advised her to do what I now do--ignore the tone and consider the words to determine if the disher-outer has a point, or if they're just trying to amuse themselves.

    That said, I also had to determine why I received criticism the way I did. The leader of the first writers' group I belonged to stressed the imporatance of not validating ourselves by our feedback, whether good or bad. After I received a glowing critique from a national organization, she tried to hammer that in even harder. I just flashed her a smile born from deep joy and said of course I wouldn't. Turns out she knew me better than I knew myself. When an avalanche of setbacks crashed down on me, I did exactly what she warned against--I called myself a failure.

    A wonderful critique group has taught me the value of critism. Having learned to view my writing as my product, not as a vehicle that determines my worth--which is in Christ, not the words I put on paper--I welcome constructive criticism. No one in my group is snarky, but if I do happen on a Simon-wanna-be, I glean what I can, then shake my head and move on.

  21. Julie and others have mentioned praying for the people who cut our hearts to the quick with their criticism. I had to do that many years ago when I finally had to call an editor who'd kept a ms. for something like a couple of years. Every few months I'd send a status inquiry, and she'd have some excuse or another (equivalent to "The dog ate my homework").

    So when I finally got ahold of her by phone, she lit into me about my "unprofessional behavior" and how I "have no voice" and on and on. I felt like someone had really stomped on her that day and it was all being dumped on me. So after shedding a bucketful of tears of my own, I was finally able to pray for her. I hope it helped. Never heard from her again.

  22. Kimberli, do you think the shows like "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent," etc., promote that kind of snarkiness? I mean, are these cutter-downers giving tacit permission for the rest of us to be mean and cruel and heartless?

    The only show of that type I really watch is "Dancing With the Stars," and usually the judges try to give some constructive criticism, but all too often they seem to get off on insults. Makes me want to punch them out and go give the poor star a big hug for trying so hard.

  23. Bless you, Myra, I had a feeling I was at least partial motivation for your wonderful blog ... and God knew that not only would I need it, but from the sound of most of the comments above, everyone else does too! Let's face it, this world can be a pretty unkind place at times and boy, if we don't learn how to deal with it properly, it can take us down.

    And, Jessica, thank you SO much for your kind encouragement -- I appreciate it more than I can say. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone would encourage, EVEN when they have constructive criticism to share? I actually just got a wonderful e-mail from a reader who told me she and her girls love my books, but then she tactfully (and kindly) told me that book 3 was too sensual for even her and that she probably would not allow her teen girls to read it. I didn't like hearing that, but it did two important things: 1.) Made me prayerfully rethink the sensuality issue in my books and 2.) left me encouraged and not beat down. I so appreciate that reader for her sensitivity and honesty.

  24. Fantastic topic and I loved everyone's comments. I'm my own worst critic and my best champion, which I'm not sure if that's a bad thing or not!

    When people have a problem with my work and their comments are either incorrect or they didn't get what I was writing, it doesn't bother me.

    When people point out something I immediately see IS incorrect or poorly done, I'm embarrassed. It just makes me mad at myself for not catching, or not knowing, it in the first place.

    Thanks for a terrific topic!

  25. Your post reminded me of this: When I took Grade 10 economics, my teacher said it doesn't matter how many times you satisfy your customers, they'll rarely brag about it to someone else. But if they think you've treated them unfairly, they'll tell everyone.

    I'll come right out and admit it - I cry. An example is the recent Linda Howard results - and this isn't even a rejection! But you'll get the picture... I found out I placed 5th. I translated that to mean I was last. Forget the fact I finaled. At the time I rec'd that email, all I could think was that I came in last. I held it together that afternoon, night and into the morning. But when I came home from church, it hit hard and I cried.

    But not only did I cry, I went on FB and told everyone I was crying and why. I rec'd many msgs back supporting, complimenting and commiserating with me. And I kept crying. (Sure go ahead and laugh but it was very traumatic at the time.)

    Finally around 6 pm, a friend from the eharl boards basically told me to get over it. She said this wasn't my normal attitude and she didn't like to see me like that.

    Well, that perked me up! And since I was tired of the pity party by then, I thanked her and got on with it.

    But, did someone mention the Genesis results were due out soon... oooooooooooooooh ... where's my tissues...

  26. Kimberli, do you think the shows like "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent," etc., promote that kind of snarkiness?IMO, yes, they do. I know they didn't start the snark, but they make it "cool", or at least commonplace. I know people who watch Idol, especially the auditions, just to hear Simon tear people down, and they laugh when he does. But our God calls us to a higher standard:

    Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.and

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.I know it isn't easy, especially on bad days, *points at self 'cause a lot of people at AT&T now hate me* but if we teach and preach Christ in our work, we really need to look to him and not the Simons of this world as our guide. Eh?

  27. Favorite coping stategy--Prayer and reading the Bible. That of course comes after a mild breakdown that sends me into the prayer and reading.

    I guess it's all a part of the humbling and growing process. I'll have to check those blogs out some time. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Anita Mae, that is so true--we are sometimes much quicker to spread the word about bad service than we are to praise good service.

    I do enjoy it when I have a chance to refer a friend to a business or organization that has treated me well. But even then, how often do we do that because we're going to get a reward, like a referral discount or something?

  29. Blintzes?


    And Kimberli said it's okay if I'm snarky, because I'm a well-meaning snark. Visions of Rachel Lynde come to mind, a woman known in these parts for speaking her mind...

    Lucy Maude Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables...

    And Richard succinctly summed up that what we THINK is wonderful at the time, often needs growth.

    Great post, Richard.

    Have a blintze. They're yummy. I've got fresh berries on mine, slathered with whipped cream.

    Myra, this is a timely post for anyone who's had tough reviews, rejections, critiques. It hurts to be criticized, and it's so hard to know what to change and what to leave.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post and good food.

    I did notice that Janet brought the food. Oy vey, Myra, you could have at least brought cyber food. I mean, seriously, would it KILL you to pretend????

    Then we can pretend to diet.

    My favorite kind of diet: make believe!

    Tina had a way of dealing with rejections back in the day...

    she kept "Peeps" by her desk...

    You know.

    The marshmallow kind.

    With heads.

    When rejections came, she'd grab a peep and bite the head clean off.

    Pretending it was whoever rejected her.

    Great therapy.

    Do not try this maneuver with a live chick.



  30. Good advice, Kimberli. We can't hold others to higher standards unless we're willing to live by those same standards.

  31. Ruthy, I did so bring food. See above about the fruit bowl and coffee creamer.

    But now it's nearly lunchtime. How about quesadillas with guacamole and salsa? I could go for a margarita too.

  32. That's interesting, Julie, because I think A Passion Denied is JUST the type of book I would WANT my teenager to read (she's only 10 right now), because it addresses the things teens go through, and it does it and provide the Godly answer.

    Just my two cents. And I agree. That negative reviewer must have some sexuality issues.

  33. One more thing. I have contest entries to judge this week, and I want everybody to know that I agonize over every one. Last week I scored one that had a lot of glaring problems, but they were fixable things. I hope and pray that person will take my comments and improve her story, not feel beaten down by them.

    On the other hand, I had a judge tell me, after reading an entry that had just placed FIRST in another contest and gotten a request from an editor, that my story and writing were so bad, if it were to get published, it would bring down Christian fiction as we know it and demean the whole genre. Seriously. But it was hard to put credence into what she said, because she said I couldn't use the word "apron" among other words, because it wasn't in use in the 1300's. But she was wrong. So I figure she was wrong about me sinking the Christian historical fiction genre!

  34. Here you go. The bottom line is ...do I want it? How badly do I want it?

    After the 24 hour whine period. Just completed last evening by the way...with much Whitman's chocolate thanks to Mother's Day. I regroup and restrategize.

    And move on.

    It is always about how I will climb over that mountain and reach my goals. It is never about anything else.

    Life as you may have figured out by now..is not fair. Suck it up. Take out your battle plan and your red pen and start again.

  35. Melly,

    I am so sorry. I apologize for your moron judge.

    Obviously SHE did not get the memo that said keep your personal opinions to yourself. If you can't be subjective take your toys and go home.

  36. Kimberli said it's okay if I'm snarky, because I'm a well-meaning snark.ROTFL! That's not quite what I meant. More along the lines that you speak your mind, but it comes across as being dished out in love. (As I recall it, you once pulled my half-drowned body from the surf and informed me I wouldn't quit under any circumstances. I haven't, and I won't!) I'll take whatever you're willing to toss at me any day :o)

    Unless it's a headless chick. Eww.

  37. The grim reality of criticism (those negative voices in our head that keep replaying the "poor me, I'm not good enough nor ever will be" and the like complexes) is that we blame it on...


    other people


    disfunctional upbringing




    The truth is we are engaged in a spiritual battle. Too many times those negative, critical, condeming voices in our heads aren't our own thoughts.

    Time to stop taking credit for that stinkin' thinkin'.

  38. Ooooh, Gina! Powerful words! I agree that there are spiritual forces that DON'T want us to keep trying, much less succeed. Discouragement is their most effective tool. At least we know Who's on our side in this battle!

    Although hormones do deserve some of the blame.

  39. Melanie, I think your judge needs to be strung up by the toenails and forced to swallow a gallon of red ink. Thank goodness for contest coordinators like Camy and Gina, who are doing their part to stamp out inept and downright mean judging.

  40. Y'all keep the chatter going for a while. I need to head out for an appointment this afternoon. I'll catch up later.

    Save me some guacamole, Ruthy!

  41. ..my story and writing were so bad, if it were to get published, it would bring down Christian fiction as we know it and demean the whole genre.This is what I'm talking about. I'm so sorry that happened. Nice job dealing with it, though. Good example. Hugs!

  42. Life as you may have figured out by now..is not fair. Suck it up. Take out your battle plan and your red pen and start again.Amen, sister!!!

    I'm fine with that 24-vent/pity party. But once the day is over, it's time to get over it. If you can't, then there's a deeper issue that needs to be dealt with, such as finding personal validity through your writing.

    I've yet to learn from a crit partner or contest judges who looked for the good things in my writing. Tell me where I suck so I can get better.

    And that right there is why I love Tina and Ruthy.

  43. Thank goodness for contest coordinators like Camy and Gina, who are doing their part to stamp out inept and downright mean judging.I suppose I should confess that I deleted a comment one of my TBL judges gave. Everything else she said was right on, had a nice balance between helpful and frank without crossing the line of mean.

    But then she said, "__________."

    Not sure what possessed her to phrase her comment that way. Since her next sentence conveyed her message nicely, I deleted the first comment. Last thing I want if for an entrant to discredit all the good advice the judge gives because of one itty bitty idiotic one.

  44. Kimberli and Myra brought up my favorite comping method -- watching Dancing with The Stars and sometimes, AMerican Idol.

    I actually sometimes agree with Simon and the Brit guy in the middle of the panel of DWTS, because they break it down for the contestant -- this didn't work because: timing, footwork, derivative or whatever -- something technical or craft oriented.

    I kinda expect a "Simon" judge somewhere along the way. Happened with readers when I worked for the newspaper, too.

    About snarkiness -- I think it comes from TV shows where the plot hinges on lying to each other and the dialog depends on insults. Was talking about this with the kiddos.

    Back to "Dancing ..." the hero of my WIP looks like Gilles on DWTS *sigh* who looks like a younger version of DH ... with more hair and no aversion to dancing *sigh*

  45. **Life as you may have figured out by now..is not fair. Suck it up.**

    I LOVE THAT!!! It's my new motto. (actually, my old motto was GET OVER IT and I think that still works...)

    Yeah, I'll complain and vent a bit, but in the end, if you can't change it, then get over it and move on, be better, and prove them wrong.

    Oh, and send a prayer for them. I like what Julie said about the lady who gave her the "smut is smut" review. She probably has her own issues, and is in need of a lot of prayer.

    Reminds me of when you get a bad waitress. Many people are mean and get mad, but I *try* to be compassionate because often times something really stinky may have just happened to them, and they need to see Jesus love even more now!

  46. Julie does NOT write smut.

    The problem is in the last century the Christian church has made anything sensual into smut. Sometimes I wonder how come church women ever got/get pregnant.

    Gives a whole new plot twist to While You Were Sleeping...

    Wanna hear a movie full of glorified insulting dialogue? Watch LEATHERHEADS with George Clooney and Renee Zellweger.

    No one in real like can come up with that many zingers in a row. Now try finding two who have the hots for each other.

  47. Melanie, I'm so sorry someone said that to you.

    What were they thinking????!!!!

    What is going on in the head of some judge that they think this is a wise choice to be so powerfully UNKIND!!!!!!!

    I agonize over comments and usually think I am too mean. I just don't know what to do with most judging. I suppose I vary my comments some because of my mood. I'm I in a tough love mood or a 'there, there poor baby' mood and or 'cheerleader-go author go!' mood or a 'I am dying for a jolt of sugar before I nod off' mood.
    (that last one might not strictly be a MOOD.

  48. Oh, Melanie, I cannot believe a judge was that mean to you!!!! Holy cow, she must be going through menopause is all I can say! And thanks for defending me with your sweet comment -- I really appreciate it, my friend.

    And, Gina -- THANK YOU! I don't think I write smut either, although I admit that if a regular Amish-book reader read my book, they would be in for a jolt, I'm thinkin' ...

  49. Myra:
    I'm with Julie Lessman; I vent to my sweet husband, cry a little, then go pray for the person. I may have to do it through gritted teeth the first few times, but eventually I can pray without anger. Usually harsh criticism has more to do with the giver than the person they criticise. To use a phrase i used to tell my kids, "they have an owie in their heart." Knowing that doesn't lessen the pain, but it helps us be a little more compassionate.
    Chocolate helps, too!

  50. Last year during the Genesis judging, Mry rambled on about one of her entries being good but the second scene dragged. Or maybe it was one of her TBL entries.

    Now while she wasn't my judge, I pondered her comment. Later when I got back my scoresheets, I realized my judges thought the same as Mary, although they didn't specify why the second scene wasn't engaging. Well, duh.

    So what had taken 4 to 7 (lol, can't remember I've cut so much) to get to the main conflict, now takes one line.

    What made me figure out I could start there unstead of earlier?

    Besides Mary's comment and the response from my Genesis or TBL contest judges, it was Julie's story how her opening with Faith catching Colin smooching her sister hadn't origninally been page one, line one.

    One of my cps says when it comes to scenes, "arrive late, leave earlier."

    Isn't odd how offhand comments posted in response seem to make the most impact in my writng psyche? Not sure what that says about me.

    Julie, I've read some Amish books where I couldn't figure out why the leads fell in love. It certainly wasn't physical attraction. Which makes sense.

    The human species would never reproduce if we had to rely only on physical attraction. Really. Who has sex because you have the hots for the other person? Practically no one. A deep spiritual connection is what makes people doink. Case in point: King David and Bathsheba. If they hadn't been discussing messianic prophesies in the songs he'd written, they'd have never been intimate. Certainly no smut going on there.

    BTW, smut is one of the entries I judged for the Fool for Love contest.

  51. Back from my appointment. Stopped by Borders on the way home and picked up the new Donald Maass book--The Fire in Fiction. Looks interesting!

    Oh, Gina, I sure hope it wasn't one of my judging comments you had to delete! I really, really try to be encouraging and gentle!

  52. Ooooh, Ann! I think Gilles is sooooo hot!!! He gets my vote! Does your hero have ze French accent???

  53. Hi All:

    I assume no one here watches Hell’s Kitchen. Now that’s criticism. And I think it is the worse show on TV.


  54. Hi, Vince. I am really not much into reality shows (except for "Dancing With the Stars"). I do not understand the fascination, especially of watching people be purposely mean to each other.

  55. Great article and comments. Thanks.

    I guess I'm still recovering from the review I got in the ABNA contest, and all your advice will help.

  56. "Really. Who has sex because you have the hots for the other person?"


  57. The human species would never reproduce if we had to rely only on physical attraction. Really. Who has sex because you have the hots for the other person? Practically no one. A deep spiritual connection is what makes people doink. Case in point: King David and Bathsheba. If they hadn't been discussing messianic prophesies in the songs he'd written, they'd have never been intimate. Certainly no smut going on there.

    Gina, too funny

    I am often amazed and what some people call SMUT, makes you wonder if they ever read their bibles.

    Song of Solomon in particular.

    I think I've mentioned before that I was told I wrote something much too well. It was an abuse scene. The worry was that I couldn't carry the rest of the story even though I'd over carried the scene.

    The powers that be would accept it from another writer who was published, but not me. And I had lived through some of it.

    So that really got to me. I threw a hissy, and cried.

  58. I know how that must have hurt--to be told they'd publish it from a known author but not from you. The business is cruel that way, unfortunately.

  59. I totally understand Melanie. Last year I had a judge write on my entry (among other things) that it had caused her to "lose the will to live". Ouch!

    To this day I still can't believe that anyone could write something so incredibly mean.

    The weirdest thing was that that IDENTICAL entry (three contests closed the same day) finaled in the other two contests, winning the inspy category of one and placing third in the other.

  60. Lose the will to live??? There's just no excuse for comments like that! Contest judges should be offering guidance and suggestions. They should be honest, yes, but with a huge dose of compassion and encouragement.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing your criticism stories and coping methods!

  61. You can' t please anybody - but you don' t need to. Just do your best to please yourself, be your own critic, be objective, but don' t be too hard on yourself. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Is the best thing to do. Cheers. RCA ieftin