Friday, May 25, 2012

The Most Nerve-Wracking Critique

I'm teaching a course in our three-week summer term called "The Story and the Script," which deals with the major elements of storytelling, applied to writing scripts for television and film. Today we talked about the importance of finding people to give critiques. One of the things we discussed was how awkward/difficult it is to have people who are family or close friends to do a critique of your work, because either a) they won't be completely honest in favor of sparing your feelings, or b) they will be completely honest, which might hurt your feelings. Regardless of who does the critique, we agreed it's important for a writer to separate the work from one's self - to remember the story is NOT you and says nothing about your ultimate value as a human being.

I hope I was listening today, ha ha. A couple of weeks ago, I had a copy of my manuscript printed by, not because I'm ready to publish it, but because I was tired of looking at it as a collection of pixels and wanted to see it in tangible form. The picture above is the cover I designed, which I am quite happy with. I'm actually quite happy with the whole project. The day it arrived, my husband commandeered it and started reading it.

This is a big deal, folks. I've been working on this book for eight (yes, eight) years, and while I've talked a lot about the story, I've never let him read any of it. I always told him it was probably not a book he would be interested in, since he's not the target market. But this time I decided I wouldn't stop him - it's time. But it has made me jittery to come in and find him reading it before bedtime. I guess I'm afraid he'll think it's stupid - and he wouldn't be shy about telling me so (he's used to judging band contests and saying exactly what he thinks about a performance). Who wants your life partner to think your favorite hobby is stupid? (Not that it would make any difference if he did....)

In the week and a half he's been reading it, he hasn't said a word about it. Not one. And though it has been REALLY difficult for me, I haven't asked what he thinks. As I told my sister (who has been ultimately patient in listening to me talk about this project for the whole eight years, bless her), I guess it's a good sign that he has kept reading.

Tonight he finished. And what was his comment? "Your chick story gets really sappy in the last chapter." That sounds kind of cold, I guess, but his nonverbals let me know he didn't mean it in a bad way. Actually, it's about what I expected. It's as I always told him - this wasn't his kind of story.

I'm going to let it stand at that for the moment, but believe me, he's not going to get off that easy! After I finish cleaning the kitchen, I'll pin him down and make him give me more details. And now I can ask him to read and give me feedback on the first draft of the sequel, which is told from the male protagonist's viewpoint and has more history in it - less of a chick story. I've been needing a male reader for that story - now he's trapped!

1 comment:

lil red hen said...

Do I get to read it? I like the new cover look.