JRWC12 Tidbit #3 – The Value of Critiques & Self-Editing

When looking back at my choices of what panels to attend at the 2012 James River Writers Conference, I began to see patterns and one of them was on editing/critique.


My first session selection – Don’t Fight the Feedback: Making the Most of Critiques and Self-Editing – made that point clear. The panel consisted of Cherise Fisher (The Scribe’s Window), Lana Krumwiede (author, Freakling), and J.M. Tyree (writer), and moderated by JRW’s own Constance Costas.


Wield Thoughtfully The Powerful Red Pen
Critiques are like advice–easy to give, hard to accept. However, when you receive a honest, insightful, and constructive critique, it would be foolish to ignore. The trick to giving and receiving critiques is to remember to be CONSTRUCTIVE. These pages/words were labored over by the author and are as dear as a beloved child. Treat them and the writer with respect, giving them your best in both content and delivery.

The panel offered so much valuable advice that I’m certain to have missed many points, but these made it onto paper:
  • Don’t self-edit while composing that first draft. Pour it all out and then go back to edit
  • Be a developmental editor – evaluating character, pacing, plot, and voice – not just grammar
  • Don’t skimp on the fact checking (was there really a full moon on January 6, 1995?) and don’t rely strictly on the web (unvetted and notoriously unreliable). Librarians are priceless resources.
  • When considering a professional editor, especially for those going the route of self-publishing, carefully vet your choice. Some resources suggested: The Editorial Freelancers Association and Professional Editors Network

Sadly, I had to leave before the session was finished (hosting duties), but I was very happy I sat in on this one for as long as I could. Those editor association links alone will be invaluable IMHO.

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About Denise Golinowski

I write "Fantasy with a Kiss of Romance" and love reading same. I hope that together we can share our experiences - likes and loves - as we read and I write, together.

Posted on October 25, 2012, in Cherise Fisher, Constance Costas, critique, critique groups, editors, J.M. Tyree, Lana Krumwiede, PEN, research, The EFA. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Thanks for sharing, Denise. I think it is hard for people to hear criticism about their work; and part of writing has to be the writer being able to “hear” what a non-biased party is saying. I've learned that if you have to explain something to someone after they've read it, then you probably need to go back in and make sure those points are valid.

  2. Hi, Tina! You've hit a good point about the need to explain. Sometimes we forget that our readers are NOT as intimately involved and knowledgeable about our world as we are and we won't be there to answer their questions when they go “huh?”

  3. Critiques are hard, but very valuable. Just as you should vet an agent or editor, don't just join the first group you come to. Great, constructive advice can help your work immensely. But bad advice, by people who are hurtful or not knowledgeable, can be damaging.

  4. Hi Tracey! Thanks for dropping in and you're spot on! It's a matter of chemistry. Not finding a group of yes-men, but a group that gets your writing/genre and then shares constructive info. Thanks for pointing that out.

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