Posts Tagged ‘critique’

Browse the bookstore shelves for books on the craft of writing.

Better yet, run an internet search with the terms “writing advice.”

Go ahead, Google it. There are only 102 million hits, right?

Yeah, lots of “advice” to be found in all corners. (Don’t even get the librarian in me started on ‘evaluating authoritative sources’…) It’s hard to process all the information on the shelves and in the digital ether.


But here’s the thing: so far, the best advice I’ve gleaned can be boiled down to two things: read and listen.

That’s it. Really.

1. Read well.

You can’t write remarkable, satisfying, fearsome, awe-inspiring, gripping, gutwrenching, exceptional fiction or non-fiction unless you read a lot of breathtaking stuff. You can’t tell a good yarn unless you’ve steeped yourself in story.

Anyone who says you can is full of bad gerunds.

2. Listen well.

Listen to other writers. Listen to agents. Listen to editors. Listen to critique partners. Listen, even when you don’t like what they have to say.

And REALLY digest their criticism. Not just praise. Compliments do nothing for you.  But sharp appraisal? That drives you to the edge. It tests your endurance, your persistence, your willingness to learn, and your ability to process feedback. (I’m preaching to myself on this one, kids)

Tough jabs push you to your limits. They make you better.  

If you don’t listen, if you don’t pay attention, you won’t grow. And you won’t get requests and acceptances.

But hey, if you’re too busy to read and too talented to listen, there’s always PublishAmerica.

Hungry for more? Work out your writing frustration and try this recipe for Aggression Cookies. They’re pure buttery oatmeal goodness.


Disclaimer: Intentional Use of Bad Metaphor, Read at Your Own Risk.

Naturally, Scarlet Whisper has to crack a few safes/vaults/heads to get the jewels.

As her mild-mannered alter ego, I’m more into cerebral lock picking. Lately, I’ve been struggling to unlock the secrets of characterization and emotional tension.

See…I just finished my WIP, which has a face melting premise, lots of snarktastic twists, and plenty of fist flying action. (Did I mention the Evil Elvii? And the Volcanoes? There’s always those.)


I have to deliver more than that. My characters can’t just move from one scene like CGI ninjas on a green screen. My tale needs depth and heart. The reader needs to get inside the mind of the protagonist.

Whoa…sometimes, I don’t feel up to the task of this whole writing gig.

It’s a good thing I have writing mentors. The League of Extraordinary Writers, the superfriends who meet every Wednesday for DFWWW and IHOP post mortem are my saving grace.

Their advice and critique is priceless. The tips and tricks are like a locksmith’s tools. I can use them to crack the writing code. I can  listen and learn and read examples of good stuff. Once the door is open, it’s like I’m rolling around in a pile of greenbacks and sparkly stones.


All week, I’ve been marking up passages of favorite books and posts. I’m analyzing good passages and taking notes.

I’m picking locks.

I’d love to know what writing obstacles you struggle with. What has helped YOU?

Hungry for More? Try my banana pudding, a dish modeled after one of Elvis Presley’s favorite desserts.

The Evil Elvii’s Favorite Banana Pudding

3 reg. sized boxes instant vanilla pudding mix

5 cups milk

8 ounces sour cream (yeah, you read that right)

12 ounces Cool Whip

2 boxes vanilla wafers

10 bananas

In a large bowl, blend pudding mix with milk (use a wire whisk). Add sour cream and half the cool whip. Mix well. Set aside. In a large bowl or dish, layer in the following order: cookies, bananas and pudding mixture. Top with remaining cool whip.