Monday, May 2, 2011

Self-Critiquing Vs. Editing Your Own Work

In the past I've always taken the approach of editing my own work. You know, altering my documents with each read through and when I think I've got it as clean as I can possibly manage on my own, it's then that I send it off to fabulous critique partners who find so much more wrong with it. :) They wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't, right!

But since it's been a long while since I looked at my first draft of The Unlikely One (actually, I've never read this one through it's entirety as I wrote it in full during NANOWRIMO a couple years ago and then set it aside), so I decided I might be distanced enough from it now to actually critique it as is before starting in on the extensive edits it's sure to need. I feared if I delved right into editing it I'd, 1)feel overwhelmed, and 2)do needless editing on pieces that will have to be massively altered or even deleted once I get the full picture of the novel again. A critique seemed like the way to go at this stage, but I realized I'd never critiqued my own work before.

I'm finding this critiquing strategy quite invigorating, actually. By putting comments and tracker on and sticking to using them to note areas of trouble, I can review my work through much more impartial eyes than I ever could when in editing mode. I know that when I'm done this self-critique, and subsequent required editing, I'll still get lots of suggestions and comments from my critique partners during their go at it. But I have a feeling I'll be much more capable to discern which suggestions to follow and which won't work for me or my story as a result of this first self-critique.

Have you ever critiqued your own novel(s)? If so, did you find it beneficial in the long run, or just a wasted step?

Surrendering to Him,

Eileen

20 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

I usually do this on a hard copy the first time I do a read-through. I'll write notes and stuff and focus on the BIG picture - not line editing.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I think a self-critique can really be beneficial when you stepped away from it for as long as you have. And ultimately you learn to trust you're own suggestions the best.

Joanne said...

I will do this, and sometimes I work simultaneously with a reader which I also like. We compare notes, chapter to chapter as we go, and build the revision that way.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Like Katie I usually tackle mine two-three times with a hard copy before I even send it along to my crit partners.

~ Wendy

Karen Lange said...

I constantly critique my work, and then look to others for valuable input. As fabulous or lousy as I think my work is, others always provide needed input.
Have a great week,
Karen :)

Keli Gwyn said...

I performed a self-edit of my story after my agent offered representation and told me candidly but compassionately that I needed to rewrite the final three-quarters of it. I worked on hard copy, assessing each scene to see if there was anything that could be salvaged. Thanks to my agent's honest appraisal, my eyes had been opened, and I was able to view the story more objectively. While painful, going through that process taught me heaps.

I wish you well on your self-critique, Eileen.

Erica Vetsch said...

I find it difficult to do a critique unless/until the story has sat idle for a long time.

I haven't been able to work on hard copy too well. Too used to the computer, I guess.

I'm so glad you've found the process beneficial. It will make the edits so much easier. :)

Jill Kemerer said...

I ALWAYS self-critique my novels before revising. It helps me see the overall picture. What's working, what's not, where the pacing is off--that sort of thing. And I leave snarky comments to myself--they always make me laugh when I get to revising. :)

Terri Tiffany said...

Not so much like you are, but I do it on my first read through--marking up places that need major changes etc. Hope you still love that work!

Jessica R. Patch said...

I critique on a hard copy like Katie and then I revise. Sometimes I wonder if I'm harder on me than my cp's!

Sheila Deeth said...

I've been doing a lot of reviewing, so now I'm finding I reread my own work like a reviewer and give myself much better critical feedback than I ever did before.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Eileen -

As a SOTP writer, examining the big picture is essential. I've discovered plot holes and other problems by reading through the manuscript.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Heather Kelly said...

Hi Eileen--thanks for stopping by my blog!! Not only do I do my own critiques, but I am shameless about showing the roughest of rough drafts to a couple extremely close crit partners. I need to know where I jump the shark before I start going through with a fine toothed comb!!

Kelly said...

AFter the wip is finished, I do a hard copy and critique the heck out of it! Then to my cp's! And more revisions. And more. :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm analytical, so yes, I do crit my own stuff. But that doesn't mean I don't rely on other critters, too. They always find things I miss because they don't know the story as well as I do.

Sarah Forgrave said...

I'm really bad about stepping back to see the big picture sometimes. As I read it, I start to see the little details I want to fix. Reading on hard copy sounds like a great idea to keep my accountants' brain from nitpicking. :)

Stephanie Faris said...

I'm not very good at critiquing my own work...but I've had a hard time finding a good critique group. My agent ends up doing most of the ripping-to-shreds of my novel and it seems to work out well!

Anita said...

I'm like Katie...I like to print-out a copy and evaluate it. I found that nothing helps like putting it aside for awhile first, though....this is difficult for me, because I'm so impatient.

Gina Conroy said...

I edit as I go, then let it sit, then critique, then write...I guess I don't have a rhythm though I'm really trying to write the first draft without editing as I go. Hasn't happened yet!

Warren Baldwin said...

A novel - no. Other work, yes.