Thursday, June 3, 2010

You've Got a BRAIN CLOUD?

We've talked before here at the Lesser Key about the importance of crit groups, and about accepting criticism with an open mind and in the spirit with which it was given. But what about the times when you just don't agree with your what your reader says?

Sometimes, even with a great crit comes a few comments that throw you for a loop. So how do you know who's "right?" Is anyone right at all? How can you be sure?

Well aside from the obvious advice, "Get a second opinion" ("Brain cloud? You didn't get a second opinion on something called a BRAIN CLOUD?" Ooops. I typed that? Sorry, y'all, but when I think the words "second opinion", my mind goes straight to "Brain Cloud." That's just how I'm wired, I suppose. But I digress.), maybe think about why the reader recommended the change. It could simply be that the way you've written a scene or plot point wasn't quite clear enough for them.

Or it may be that something you wrote earlier led them to expect a different outcome than the one you depicted, leaving them feeling dissatisfied. Barring the possibility that what you wrote was just self-indulgent drivel (all the self-indulgent drivel should have been stripped out at least two revisions ago), you might find that the reason the comment rankles so much is because it means a failure to communicate on your part.

Instead of getting down on yourself—or that gosh-darn-know-it-all critter—which won't help anyone, figure out where you went wrong and fix it.

And if, after all that, you still maintain that your way was the best way, nay, the only way to write the scene, well, maybe you have a Brain Cloud after all.

Only course of action for a Brain Cloud is to get a second opinion. ;)

Oh, and don't forget to enter to win RUINED!


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Second opinions--always a good thing. Usually if more than one person has a problem with a section of writing, it's because the author failed to make clear what he/she is trying to say, rather than the reader is having a bad day (and sometimes they do!). So even if the reader is off-base on the comment/suggestion, the writer may need to do overhaul. I've been shocked when a discussion with a crit partner shows me that they had come away with something I didn't intend. Then I need to go back and figure out why it's muddy.
Love the brain cloud!

M. Bail said...

Teehee. Love Joe V. Volcano (I have no response to that). Surprisingly, the brain cloud reference is often very useful and I will sometimes find myself referencing it in conversation (Brain cloud? I knew it! I mean, I didn't know it, but I knew it.)

My other fave line from that flick is: "I know he can get the job, but can he do the job? I'm not arguing that with you."

Makes me giggle!

Oh, and I totally agree with your assessment of crits and second opinions.

Tere Kirkland said...

Soooo glad I'm not the only one who loves the brain cloud. ;)

I feel like having an orange soda now.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Busting through the brain cloud is one thing that makes a trusted, similarly skilled writing/crit group invaluable.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Brain cloud... I love that term! Great post, Tere! :-)

Abby Annis said...

Who do you know that's a gosh-darn-know-it-all critter? ;)

Normally, if I get a crit I don't agree with and I can blow it off without thinking about it, I know it's not right--unless someone else mentions it. Then I'll put more thought into it.

Usually, if it's something that needs changing, it's already bugging me and I wasn't sure how to fix it before I got the crit. Or it will slip into my thoughts as I'm reading through later. Then I know it needs fixed, and I will usually email one of my most trusted crit partners (you know who you are ☺) for their input.

I think a lot of knowing which changes will work and which won't just comes from experience. Great post, Tere!

M. Bail said...

Oh, forgot to mention - my daughter's nickname is Woowoo (because her younger brother couldn't say "Rachel" when he was a toddler...only Woowoo). Every now and then I call her Waponi-Woo. LMAO.

Tere Kirkland said...

Waponi-Woo, that's adorable. Does she still think so? ;)

Ironically enough, I just turned on the TV to Castaway. No orange soda in sight.

T. Anne said...

Ha! That's the first thing I do when I get my work back from my crit partners. After I cool down I see the light. They are always right. I hate that. ;)

Anonymous said...

But there are also times when comments miss the mark entirely. The challenge is to determine what serves the story better--your original ideas, or the critique. Just because someone makes a comment doesn't guarantee they are correct.