Monday, October 18, 2010

Blog Swap: The Truth Hurts by Dana Elmendorf

Hi everyone!  Dana Elmendorf here from A Squirrel Amongst Lions.  I get the honor of being a guest blogger on Diana’s blog.  It’s a fun way to mix things up because let’s face it, sometimes blogging needs a swift kick in the pants.  Seeing as Diana is my critique partner and all, I decided to take her suggestion and write about what I’ve learned from critiquing.  
The fact is…the truth hurts.  
It’s never easy to put yourself out there, especially when you’re a newbie like me.  As much as we know our manuscripts need work, we all cringe at being told what needs to be fixed.  But it’s the whole “forest for the trees” issue.  You need the eyes of someone else to point you in the write direction. (Yes, I’m trying to be punny.)  
Depending on the voice behind the critique, sometimes I need 24 hours to pout before I can move on. I’ve critiqued for several different people and vice versa but Diana is the steady voice I trust to be honest but kind.  We fit together like a couple of puzzle pieces, though we don’t look, write or act anything alike.
What have I learned from critiquing?  
I’m a WASinator, zapping the passive voice out of any document.  My grammar stinks.  Commas are my mortal enemy.  Fixing someone else’s plot holes helps me with my own.  Nothing is ever perfect because there is always room for improvement.  Being critiqued trained me to be a better critique partner.  But most importantly, critiquing has made me a better writer.
Whether you use a group or exchange with a friend over the internet, a critique partner is key. Sure, you have to decide at what stage to bring that partner in but your writing will not grow unless you have the voice of a trusted fellow writer to help you (or at least some one in the publishing industry).  Yes, family and friends are great cheerleaders.  They can edit grammar or give you advice but there is that something extra only a fellow writer can add.  A special knowledge that comes with writing a book itself: plot arcs, character voice, world building, etc.  
So even though the truth hurts, they don’t call it growing pains for nothing.  Each step of the way you learn a new trick, see a new way to spin your words and before you know it, you’re on your way to being published.  Diana Paz is a fabulous critique partner and I am so grateful she has shared so much of her knowledge with me. 
And now for the dirty gossip I found will snooping around her blog.  Did you know that Diana Paz once—
*************We apologize for this technical difficulty.************
*******The blog post you are reading will return shortly.*********

--Can you believe it?  And I have pictures to prove it!
Thanks Diana, I hope you’re not too mad at me for telling everyone your little secret.
Back to you Di.


  1. It's so true--helping other writers find plotholes has helped me find my own! And same with the criticism I've received, it has in turn helped me to give better criticism. It's so cyclical! But in such a great way :)

  2. I love this, Dana :) You're a fabulous critique partner too, and help me in all the same ways you say I help you. I'm lucky to have the WAS-inator on my side, and have grown so much as a writer because of you.

    As for the shameless gossip you tried to share... HA!!! Not likely, amiga! Don't forget, I've got the dirt on you too *arches brow* :P Love you, and thanks for being my critique buddy xoxoxoxoxo

  3. Lmao! That was a great ending Dana =)

    I agree. CPs are vital. I learn from receiving AND giving critiques. You need to do both to truly learn.

  4. You guys both hit the nail on the head with this swap! The next best thing to writing is reading critically--it hones our own skills and helps us to figure out what works and what doesn't so that we don't make the same mistakes in our own work! Great post, Dana! Sometimes the truth DOES hurt, but man it is so worth it!

  5. Yes. Truth kind of tears at the heart. But like other muscles, that just makes it stronger in the end. Mine must be freaking bordering on bionic :D I'm very lucky myself. CPs that get your voice and enjoy the story as well as being great at the technical are GOLD.

  6. Sara it's so true. Having your CP point things out helps you see where you can improve on your own critique.

    Diana - you're just lucky we had technical difficulties.

    Natalie - Critiquing is a win win situation, for sure.

    Amalia - Critiquing has helped me clean my MS a lot better before I send it over to Diana. And the pain it worth the gain.

    Tina - LOL, Bionic, you poor doll. I love your muscle analogy! (says the exercise girl) Diana is like gold, too bad I can't sell her on the open market for $1K/ounce...NOT THAT I would, I'm just saying ;) (Bwhahaha)

  7. Dana, wonderful post! Yes, the truth does hurt and it takes me about 24 hours to heal as well. Funny thing, but when I don't have red bleeding all over my MS, it makes me wonder if my crit partners even looked at it. It feels disappointing when there's hardly a a mark!

    ~Elizabeth :)

  8. An honest, knowledgeable, empathetic critique partner is gold in this business. Sounds like you two have struck paydirt.