Friday, January 20, 2012

A Writer's Week #3: Feedback From My Toughest Critic

First off, let me apologize for not posting anything yesterday. I'd like to say it was because I was a day late on the internet blackout, but the ugly truth was that I had a Lions Club meeting, got back home late, and couldn't get a post together. Most weeks when I know I have a meeting, I prepare something ahead of time, but it just wasn't happening. So, again, I apologize.

On the writing front, I was a little more successful. I was able to write another chapter of The Deliverers II, the as yet unnamed second adventure. I was pretty pleased with how things were going, so I let my wife read everything I'd written so far.

I love my wife. She keeps me grounded while encouraging me to reach for the stars. But she's a tough critic. That's a good thing, but it isn't much good for my ego. So she reads the book so far. I'm sitting on the couch pretending to read a book, trying not to look interested, and looking at her from the corner of my eye. There was some chuckling. Good sign. Stephanie doesn't chuckle easliy. Like I said--tough critic.

Then, she finishes and turns to look at me. "Well?" I ask, shaking with nerves. This is the first human being that's read this thing. What will the response be? I know she loved the first one--after I fixed it.

"Well, it's good. There's only a couple of things."

"Like what?"

She brought up a couple good little points. The kind that make you say, oh, yeah, that would be better. Then she says, "There's one part with Hallo that I don't get."

Defensiveness rears its ugly head. "What? What don't you get?"

"There's one part where he says he 'bought the mine'..."

"Yeah, that's kind of like a takeoff on bought the farm. He's a dwarf, they don't have farms, so the dwarf saying is bought the mine. It's supposed to be funny."

"I don't get it."

"What? What's not to get?"

"Bought the farm? What does that mean?"

I was speechless. She'd never heard the term, and insisted that it's not a common phrase. I was flabbergasted. Well, we had a pointless little chat about that for a while. But it just goes to show, that you never know what someone brings--or doesn't bring--to a book.

But that wasn't her most important contribution. her last, most important point was about the chapter I'd just written. There's a point when Stig has to reveal themself to people from the world they're visiting. She pointed out that they were too accepting or willing to believe he was who he said he was.

This was a good point, but it didn't make me happy. For one thing, I didn't like the fact that she had caught it and I hadn't. So I became a grumpy gus right away. It also meant that I had to work a little harder to make the whole scene work. I think the character will have to prove themself before that section of the story will be able to move forward. All in all, it will improve the book, but it will take a little more effort.

So, there you are. While my ego wishes I had someone who would read what I write and say that it was Pullitzer or Newbury material, I'm lucky that I have someone who will tell it like it is. Even if she's not up to date on all the common expressions, she'll help me be the best writer I can be.


  1. Hi Greg- Stephanie and I agreed right from the beginning that we would take all personal emotion out of crafting The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow, and that has made all the difference. I remember when we wrote the chapter with Fairday getting ready to go to school. Initially, I had her wearing tennis sneakers. Stephanie instantly caught it and let me know that kids don't wear them anymore- so we changed it to UGGS. It was a simple critique, but something like that makes all the difference. Great writing can always be made better, cleaned up, shaped into something else- the story is still always there!

  2. She sounds like a very wise lady!!

    Hi Greg,
    It’s Ro from Ro-alwaysinpired!
    I would like to award you the Versatile blog award for the wonderful contributions you make to the writing world! Details are at my blog

    All the best for your blog in 2012, I'll stay tuned!

  3. Jess--You're right, of course. You have to check your ego at the door in order to take feedback and use it to make your writing even better! For me, I have to wince first, gulp, and let it go. My wife is usually right!

    Ro--Thanks for thinking of me! I looked at your post. I'll probably do this on Thursday, as that's usually a slow topic day.

  4. I agree with Jess! Getting feedback can be scary, but it lets you look at your work through someone else's eyes. So much better when it is possible to make your writing even stronger and see changes you did't know needed to be made. Some people just tell you what they think you want to hear. You are lucky to have a wife who can provide you with such honest feedback. Good luck making the changes! And as for not posting one day- we all get busy. No worries!