Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ready For Failure?

Are you? Seriously. I really mean it.

Are you ready to bare your soul (or at least a small poetic chunk of it) to the world (by world, I of course mean readers) and have it torn apart into little bloody pieces? By which I mean, little bloody pieces.

Ready to
admit where your writing has failed, ready to break your novel down in order to build it back up? Are you?

Good. You're ready to have someone beta your novel. Yes, I know you're the only one who's seen it (aside from your mother/sister/husband/dog, and Lord knows they loved it), and it's not 100% the novel it can be yet.

But guess what? It never will be without proper feedback, and while there are certainly exceptions, that's something your mother/sister/husband/dog can't always give. My turtle loves my urban fantasy just the way it is, but I think she's just being polite. And frankly, she doesn't know a lot about character arcs or what agents are looking for in voice.

There is help. Form a critique group, whether online or in your town/dorm. Search out forums online that allow you to critique others, like Absolute Write Water Cooler or the Query Tracker Forum. Then there's Roni's Beta Club posts every Tuesday and Thursday at her Fiction Groupie blog. Psych yourself up to get your own work critiqued by critiquing others first. Who knows, that might help you apply what you've learned to your own work. Awesome, but still no substitute for having a good beta reader or critique partner.

Do you really want the first person who reads your work with an analytical eye to be a literary agent? Talk about failure.

The interwebs have given us something amazing, something unheard of until recent years: a global network of writers, authors, literary agents, and other publishing professionals. If you're not using the tools that technology has provided, (except Twitter and Facebook. I'm convinced those are tools of the devil. ;D) you're quickly falling behind in the game. And you don't want that, do you? Didn't think so.

So go bare a poetic chunk of of your soul today!

And Happy Earth Day.


Eric said...

Great post. I went through these very thoughts as I prepared my short story to be workshopped by my class. While a part of me knows I need the feedback, it was nerve-wracking nonetheless. Still, I know I'll be better for it when all is said and done. And so will my story.

Joanne Brothwell said...

Great post. I recently finished revising my ms on Sunday and I'm thinking "now what?"

I'm definitely in need of a Beta reader and off I go to broadcast my need.


Cheree said...

Who will ever be ready for failure? When I have people read my MS I'm a nervous wreck because I know that criticism will always make it better, but I fear that they will say it's utterly terrible.

KM said...

I've learned SO much from being in critique groups. I never knew about show vs. tell, head hopping, or the evil of adverbs before getting beta readers. It was hard to hear the critism at first, but I was lucky to get into groups that had really great and helpful people in them who didn't criticize to tear down but to build up. Good advice in this post!

Julie Dao said...

Great post! I used to fear failure like a child fears the boogeyman. But I'm coming to terms with it. I'm beginning to see that failure isn't an end - it's an opportunity to try again.

Tahereh said...

this was a fabulous post, and such a phenomenal way to introduce it. this industry is all about having thick skin, and critique groups are a huge part in being a success!

go you!

Dylana Suarez said...

Just came across your blog!

It is lovely!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great post! I've been lucky to have some amazing writers crit my stuff in the past. Unfortunately some have move on to other things. Fortunately there are others willing to take their place. :D

Voidwalker said...

Yeah, it does hurt. I had a great short story that I had written for a class I'm taking at the moment and after some good revisions, I was convinced it was good enough. After getting it back from the teacher, I did find he was impressed and I had a lot of great feedback, but there was one major character flaw that I failed to catch and it kind of hurt the story. Soooooo, point taken. Beta's are GOOD!

Dawn Simon said...

Crit groups, crit partners, betas--they're all awesome! I totally rely on mine to help make me a better writer.

I have an award for you at my blog. :)

Carrie Harris said...

Gosh yes. The first critique is always the hardest, but now I don't know what I'd do without my group and readers.

Heather Zundel said...

I think I like your bold statements best. Just in case we didn't catch the subtleties. ;)