Friday, April 12, 2013

Quotes and Cookies: My new favorite quote on critiques

New York was INCREDIBLE! So. Very. Incredible. I am still lagging way behind in the game of catch-up, and haven't even gotten a chance to look at my pictures yet, but I will do a post on it soon.

I recently ran across a quote that I think is brilliant! For a long time, I've heard (and totally believe in) two different pieces of advice that I've had a hard time reconciling.

The first piece of advice is that you need to have a good (and very strong) sense of your book, so when critiquers suggest you do different things, you know which voices to listen to. If you don't, your book will head a million different directions, trying to please everyone, and it'll end up worse than when you started.

I totally believe in this.

The second I'm not sure if I've ever heard, or if it's just the way I feel. Whenever I hear about an issue from a critique partner, I figure that person represents a slice of the bigger pie that will one day be my readers. If I don't find a way to address that issue, then all the people that critique partner represents will have the same issue.

I totally believe in this, too.

Yet they seem to be at odds with each other.

Then I ran across a quote from Neil Gaiman that explains why those two can both be true, and coexist. Are you ready? Here it is:


"Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

~Neil Gaiman


I had never heard this quote before, which surprises me. The thing is pure gold! There's a big difference between a critique partner bringing an issue to your attention, and them telling you how to fix it. (Which explains why you sometimes really bristle at a suggestion.) And of course, asking a critique partner to brainstorm ways in which the issue could be fixed is something else entirely, and can be so so so helpful.

Now that we've had such a breakthrough, let's skip the cookies and go straight for the donuts, shall we?

Thank you, Shutterstock.com!

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!!

23 comments:

Valerie Hartman said...

That IS a great quotation, because it applies to so many aspects of life. Thanks for sharing it with us.

I wish your image had a plain glazed donut. That would be perfect for me. But could I ever tell you that you did it wrong by only including a super colorful rainbow collection of yummy confections? I don't think so.

ilima said...

Yummy! I love this quote. So true!

Michael Offutt, S.F.A. said...

Do you make all those doughnuts? How is it that you can stay so slim and trim? Sigh. Everyone in Utah is so skinny cept me.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I've heard this quote before and it's so true! Glad you had fun in NY. And those donuts look down right tasty.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Oh, but it's true. I guess that's why Orson Scott Card in his explanation to his Wise Readers (his betas) that they should just tell him what doesn't work for him--not how to fix it. That's his job as the author.

prerna pickett said...

great quote and so very true. Everyone needs to keep this in mind when it comes to critiques.

S.P. Bowers said...

Great quote and one to keep in mind while getting and giving critiques.

Rena said...

YES! That is one of my absolute favorite quotes on writing. It's really awesome.

Jessie Humphries said...

Umm, is this your nice way of telling me that every suggestion I've ever given you is crap?! haha, cheers to the donuts!

Jeff Hargett said...

Definitely a quote worth remembering.

JeffO said...

Neil Gaiman is a very smart man. It's funny, because when I crit/beta, I hate when the best I can do with some part of the book is say, "This doesn't work for me, and I can't explain why." But sometimes, that's how it is.

Glad you had a great time in NYC.

Cindy Dwyer said...

I can see some truth in that!

Lauren said...

And sometimes the real reason something bugs them isn't obvious even to them, which is why fixing it the way they say can backfire. If you fix the real problem, likely the next time they see it they won't even notice.

Robin said...

Great quote-and so true. I've tried to reconcile those two thoughts on crits for a long time. Thanks for doing it for me (well, you and Neil Gaiman)

And I'm craving the blue donut with the yellow glaze, please.

Katie Dodge said...

Yes, yes, yes! Love this. Glad you had fun in NYC. Can't wait to see pics. :)

Rachelle said...

Perfect quote! Thanks for sharing it.

Julie Daines said...

Great quote! In a workshop at WIFYR with Martine Leavitt we critiqued each other's manuscripts. Only she didn't call it critiquing, she called it questions. We spent the first 20 minutes saying what we liked and what worked well, then the last 20 minutes asking questions. Above all, we weren't allowed to prescribe. Just ask questions--say what we felt was off--but not tell how to fix it, that part was up to the author.

Diana said...

That's a great quote! I always struggle with what I should or shouldn't change when a CP suggests something. I know they have a point, but I also know they may not have the whole story or are going in the direction I want. I'm so jealous you went to NY! That's on my long list of somedays.

Taffy said...

LOVE this quote! I'm glad to hear NY was awesome. Can't wait for an update.

Leslie said...

That is a terrific quote! Can't wait to see your photos!!!

Janet Johnson said...

Love that quote! I agree so so much. New favorite quote. :)

Tracy Campbell said...

Hi Peggy,
Neil's quote was perfect timing.
I've copied it and will be sticking it to my forehead (computer) LOL.
Thanks,
Tracy

kittyhietala said...

That is a great quote! I have never heard it before, either, which is amazing since I love Neil Gaiman in a non-creepy stalkerly kind of way. :)