Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Refining Your Voice

So last week I mentioned that critiques can smother or dull a voice.

Well, the opposite is also true. Good critiques can smooth and refine voice. Just because a voice is strong doesn't mean it's the best it can be.

Writing guidelines are tools, as are critiques. Use them to sharpen and shape your voice, to strengthen it and make it powerful.

What is the best critique you've ever received in any area of your life? How did it change your writing or perspective?

28 comments:

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Oh my goodness, I've received such phenomenal feedback that I'll always be grateful for. I was thankful a dear friend pointed out some POV issues in one book and encouraged me to undergo a rewrite...so thankful I took that on.
~ Wendy

Jessica Nelson said...

Good for you, Wendy! Changing pov can be challenging but having the right one really influences how effective the story is.

Sarah Forgrave said...

I paid for a professional critique of my full m/s last year and got WAY more than my money's worth. The editor really tugged the best out of me, and I think she helped me take my voice from the first 20 pages and carry it throughout the m/s. Definitely money well spent! :)

Jessica Nelson said...

Wow, Sarah! That's awesome!

Jessica R. Patch said...

I have wonderful CPs that challenge and stretch me, especially when it comes to Deep POV!

Anita said...

Eek! What a great question but I don't know if I can whittle it down to just one. Hmm.

I do think that learning to use my lush prose a LITTLE more sparingly then turning it loose on certain sentences or scenes has helped me especially in the YA arena. But I honestly can't remember exactly who told me that, or if it's something I learned after many critiques. Whatever the case, I'm grateful for the learning curve!

Have a lovely day, BQE! :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've had a number of great crits that made a huge difference in my writing. I could write a post on it (and indirectly I have several times). :D

Stephanie Faris said...

I've had good critiques and bad. The worst was when I was in a critique group where this very outspoken negative woman said, "This book is not as shallow as your work normally is." Oh, gee, thanks. That comment upset me so much I eventually left the group, on the advice from other writer friends who said that it was a toxic situation. It showed me that a bad critique group can actually hurt your writing and cast great self-doubt.

Erica Vetsch said...

I've received so many good critiques, I don't know that I could pick out just one. I LOVE my crit partners. :)

Jessica Nelson said...

Awww, Erica! I'm sure they love you too!

Stephanie, sounds good that you got out. I can't believe that writer said such a rude thing. Grrr.

Me too, Stina. It seems I'm always learning.

Jessica Nelson said...

Hi Jessica,
Yeah, deep POV is a valuable thing to know. :-)

Anita, you do a great job!

Keli Gwyn said...

My critique partners are awesome and give me consistently helpful feedback. My savvy agent offers valuable insights about my writing. I'm blessed to have them on my Dream Team.

Jessica Bell said...

The best advice I ever got was 'to dog deeper'. Worked wonders for me!

Lisa Jordan said...

My best advice came from Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck, the My Book Therapy dynamic duo. They did a two-hour brainstorming session with me and breathed life into my characters by forcing me to dig deeper. That book--Lakeside Reunion--will release in November from Love Inspired.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Hmm...that's tought to answer.
Usually the crits I love the most are the ones that usually say "I'm not feeling that" or "you need to show me this". That's when i know I'm telling and not showing enough.

Jill Kemerer said...

Great question. Based on my cps' advice, I learned to flesh out my scenes better with more details, more inner thoughts. They helped me see that writing bare and writing tight are two different things!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

The best critiques gave me insight into creating deeper characters and adding more tension. The worst tried to change the entire thrust of the story.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica Nelson said...

Hmmm, interesting, Susan.

Wow, Jill! That is a wonderful observation and post-worthy!

LOL Jennifer. Yep, those'll do it.

Jessica Nelson said...

Keli, knowing who your critters are (and agent), yeah, you def. have a dream team. :-)

Hey Jessica, you mean "dig" deeper, right? LOL

Lisa!!!! Did I know you had a contract??? If I forgot, well, congrats again!!! That's awesome!!!

Jessica Bell said...

haha! Whoops! Yes, definitely 'dig' :o) *blush*

Robyn Campbell said...

When I first started writing, I was TOLD that I TOLD the entire first few chapters of my book. That advice was absolutely the BEST advice I ever received. :-)

Terri Tiffany said...

I paid for two editors on two different books and wow--I finally learned that I didn't understand GMC and now that I do-- I want to cringe at how I wrote them!

Jessica Nelson said...

LOL Jessica, but it made me laugh! I thought at first there was some slang I didn't know about. Heeehee!

Great stuff Robyn! Thanks for sharing. :-)

Terri, no cringing allowed, got it? :-) We all have learning curves and trust me, I had to learn GMC too. Am still learning it!

Linda Kage said...

I had a critique that made me bawl all weekend once. But then I turned around and fixed the story. After it sold, every review about them (all two of them) have been five star!

Patti said...

I've had several good critiques and they all just seem to teach me a little bit more about writing.

Nancy said...

One time on an essay test question I ended my words with, "You've got it M.J." My instructor wrote, "You've got it, too, Nancy."
I will treasure that word through every setback and rejection notice.

Karen Lange said...

Hmm, good question. One of the best pieces of advice (not exactly a critique) I got was to 'call myself a writer'. It helped me see the vision God had for my life.
Have a wonderful weekend,
Karen

Gina Conroy said...

I can't pinpoint a specific critique, but best advice I received was the permission to write a crummy first draft. I'm OCD about editing while I write and I'm trying to break the habit, but my wise agent put it in perspective when he said "you can't fix what's not there!"