Monday, September 17, 2012

Handling Criticism

I don't know about you but handling criticism, whether it is filled with love or a scathing review is a bit like taking a bite out of that great looking cookie only to discover the chef accidentally used salt instead of sugar.

None of us like criticism; it's the next best thing to cleaning out the bathroom toilet. Still, once the criticism is looked at certain decisions about your work can be made for improvement.

1. The critique is right on the money. I'm going to make changes.
2. The critique is a nut job; or at best, just the personal opinion of the critiquer.
3. The critique is a manifestation of the critiquers own insecurities.

Looking at these various responses, they all feel the same to me in the beginning. I may feel somewhat insulted, somehow not understood, and suddenly I am either angry or feeling insecure about my work.

Years ago I entered a contest. The entries had been painstakingly worked on. When I didn't win a single award I looked at the judges comments. Some were helpful. Others were scathing and I wondered how the judge thought I'd ever write again if I based my opinion on my work from their review.

Fortunately, I didn't.

One of the hardest things to take in is unsolicited critiques; those that come to you without you even asking for them. But these, like the others, can be purposeful for your work if you let them.

Photo by: Arry_B, courtesy of Flickr
But you have to let them in.

My new book, Scrambled, is a cozy mystery but it doesn't run typically cozy. It has an amateur sleuth, a murder, even some quirky instances played out by the main character who knows nothing about solving a mystery. But it is more serious than the typical cozy. Susan not only has a back story, she lives in the real world where separation from a long-time marriage is possible. And so my cozy takes on a deeper level than some.

Is this okay, even if some readers think my story is more of a suspense novel?

I think so. Keeping things interesting in your writing, keeps the readership coming. And I can't help but think that a cozy can also create some great suspense--if you let it.


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