Monday, June 21, 2010

How I Use Crits

I just got crits back from four fabulous, wonderful people (who I will probably do anything for now, so be warned that I could be humiliated somewhere on the net at some point...should be fun). Today I thought it would be appropriate to talk about how I use crits in my editing process.

Once I have all my crits in, the first thing I do is go through and fix all the typos people caught. It's easy, and I want them out of way before I forget them. Besides, these changes don't mess with the story at all.

After that, I read through the more substantial crits. I make note of the ones I agree with, the ones that create that nagging pit in stomach, and those that I'm throwing out (which is usually few). And by "make note," I mean in my head for the most part, though sometimes I write them down if it's a really huge list (like after my first beta round).

Then I think about the "nagging pit" edits. These are usually comments that I don't quite agree with, but I have to figure out why the reader said that. I often try to satisfy the reader on these issues, but not in the way they suggest.

Once I take in all the comments, absorb the general idea, I put them all away and get to work. I do not open them again as I edit, which is probably not how everyone does it but I prefer it. If I look at comments while I edit, I start to worry more about pleasing others than editing for myself. Then I panic and start thinking it'll suck and no one will like it no matter what I do and I'm doomed. DOOMED.

Not the best mentality.

So I edit for myself, solving the problems raised in my own way. When I'm finished, I take a look at the crits again to make sure I've covered the major issues. If I missed something I realize is important, I go back in and tweak.

That's pretty much it. How do you guys tackle feedback?


  1. I especially agree with: "So I edit for myself, solving the problems raised in my own way." It's the truest way to maintain your art while still tackling problems that arise. :)

    One thing I also note are the points my critters say are done well. If I excel at one thing, I try to incorporate that method into my weaker writing areas.

  2. I'm similar in that I do all the typos/grammatical fixes first, mainly because I can go through the entire draft pretty quickly and feel like I've actually accomplished something.

    The bigger issues I tend to sleep on and usually have an idea by morning about how to tackle it. Sometimes my crit partners have suggested things that were in the back of my mind, but I hadn't done them because it would have involved extensive re-writes. So I suck it up and do the re-writes-- and end up so much happier with the book. I can't even say how much I love my crit partners--they rock! :)

  3. This sounds like a fantastic way to handle crits and I'll definitely keep it in mind when I get there. Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. This has to be the best way to handle crits I've heard so far. Look at them, make note of it and put it away. It seems so straightforward and the best way to do things.

    Why didn't I think of it?

  5. I haven't been in your situation too often (or, um, ever) but I'm going to have to take note of your method for when I do. It sounds pretty good to me. :)

  6. Interesting how at least a couple of you work crits from line-edits to big picture issues. I took a course this past spring on revisions, and one of the smartest things the instructor said was to leave the line-edits (typos, spelling, grammar, etc) until last. Because when you're editing the structural stuff, some of those words and issues will just be deleted anyways, so it's inefficient to fix them first - a waste of time. So I leave those until last - makes sense to me.

    I read through crit comments, make note of the big issues and then, like you, I close the crits and just work on solving the problems in my own way. Then I go back and do line-edits before sending it out again. Theoretically.

    I'm in the line-edit stage at the moment with one wip, and a rewrite stage with the other.

  7. How do I handle feedback?

    1. Fix typos, and feel stupid for making them.

    After that, it goes much like the 5 stages of grief.

    I DENY that the critiques could be right. I love my MS; it's shiny and perfect. So there.

    I get ANGRY at the audacity of people who think it's not perfectly shiny. Losers!

    I try and make myself a DEAL by saying I'll at least consider the crits that somehow make more sense than they did the day before. How'd that happen?

    I get DEPRESSED because there are A LOT of good suggestions. My book sux. Where's my shredder? Delete key, you are my new favorite friend.

    I ACCEPT that it's my book and ultimately my vision. I won't be happy with everything others want in or out of it just like not everyone will be happy with what I choose to include or leave out or how I treat my characters. I can live imperfect if it's the right story for me to tell.

  8. Jamie, oh, I'm not talking line edits. I do save line edits for last. I'm talking typos, like when I have "ninjustu" instead of "ninjutsu."

    If I don't get those quick, I tend to forget. But even so, I don't do this on the first draft. I'm, uh, like on draft 15 with this baby...

  9. I like your method. Too often I've edited to make OTHERS happy but it's left my work feeling voice-less and meaningless to me. Not a good combo.

    When it comes to the bigger comments, especially those "nagging pits" like you said, I like to go through all the crits and see if more than two people had the same thought. If they did, then I'll mull and consider and see how I can fix it. But if it's only one person who had the problem, then I'll usually ignore it (unless I have that gut reaction thing that tells me the person's right).

    I don't want to make the same mistake again of editing out my own voice/story.

  10. See, now, I thought I was the only one that did it this way! First I upload it all to the brain, let it cook a bit, and then march through the edit, letting the bits fall back through one by one.

    I DO go back after I'm all done, just making sure that I caught all the crits that I meant to.

    Thanks for sharing! :)

  11. Ohhhh crits, best served with a Vorpal weapon!

  12. Crits are a HUGE part of my editing process. I have a learning disability and it makes it hard for me to catch grammar mistakes and the tiny detail things. I normally go through, fix any comments people make, like "this line doesn't sound realistic." Then I also tackle the BIG stuff, anything that involves rewrites.
    Then after that is done, I pass it off to someone else and the process repeats again. Until I hit what I think is 100%.
    I'm not there yet. I"ll let you know.

  13. I also put away crits after reading. Then, before I submit, I'll look over them again. Cuts back on the DOOMED thinking for me too. :)

  14. I tend to do Major Problems first, anything whose fix will mess with continuity (like removing a character). Then I do a read-through and deal with all other comments chapter-by-chapter.

    But otherwise I treat the crits like you do, right down to the nagging pit.

  15. No wait. I do them like Nick said. Forget mine.

  16. Yeah, I typically start off with the typos, it makes for a good laugh. Has anyone done a complete book of hilarious typos yet?

  17. I have a similar process. I normally to the quick easy grammar fixes. Then I think through the other fixes. Sometimes I need time to let the sting of some of the comments wear off, so that I can see more clearly what I can do to fix the problem. But ultimately, anything that I do change I make sure it is something I agree with. Not something I'm changing just because one person thought it didn't work.

  18. For the more major changes, if I'm not sure I agree, I consider more the ones that more than one person suggested. I tend to look at the critiques as I revise so I can do all the revisions at the same time. It usually takes me at least two revisions to get it right. And like you, I often get that I'm doomed and I'll never get it right feelings in the pit of my stomach

  19. I read the whole thing and then motor through it start to finish. On rare occasions, I'll highlight something I just can't figure out how to fix and come back to it later.

    Yeah, I'm boring.

  20. "So I edit for myself, solving the problems raised in my own way."

    Love that line. Definitely wise advice.