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cnhull
05-24-2013, 07:04 AM
This primarily for lurkers or other who don't post much though I guess (hope) that anyone can benefit from my experience.

It's easy to read other people's writing and mentally take notes and make suggestions; we all do it. When I found myself in QLH taking the time to post and in an informative way tell the author why I thought certain aspect could be stronger my criticism became even clearer to me. That, is when I realized that I was learning from myself.

After critiquing I'd say, "Wait, why not apply this idea you're suggesting to your own query?" I took my advice and in doing so made my own query stronger. I don't think I'd have been able to do this without critiquing other's work as it was the act of having to express myself in a clear way to someone else--not just keeping it all in my head--that I was able to organize my thoughts well enough to truly learn from; well; from myself.

If you're in the process of writing; critique other's peoples writing then make sure you are practicing what you preach. Same for queries and everything else. Critiquing is a way of sharing what you know or a different perspective than what the author may have. Learning begets learning and sometimes you can even teach yourself.

kkbe
05-24-2013, 05:49 PM
Took me a while to figure that out. It's like an epiphany--critiquing others' work forces you to look at the writing objectively, analyze it, articulate your thoughts. Do it enough and you will start doing it with your own work, can't be helped.

I like QLH because it's like a condensed version of the process, distilled down to the essence of writing: saying what you need to say in the clearest way, with the fewest words.

Making every word count.

Thanks for posting, cnhull.

JulianneQJohnson
05-24-2013, 06:37 PM
I agree. I found this especially helpful with query letter writing. After spending time in QLH, it's much easier to get my own query beaten into shape. I still step into QLH to see if I can help anyone out.

jjdebenedictis
05-24-2013, 06:38 PM
I'll also say thanks, CNHull!

I actually learned this in my professional career. I'd never understood my own field so well as when I had to teach it to others. Explaining something well enough for another person to comprehend it really forces you to crystallize your own understanding.

Diomedes
05-24-2013, 06:59 PM
I do think that you can only learn so much from reading published books by competent authors. One of the most useful things about reading unpublished work is that you see what doesn't work and why it doesn't work. It sheds light on how successful authors have negotiated the issues others have difficulty with and opens your own mind.

Certainly one of the big learning steps for me was moving from reading the first 10k words or so of someone's manuscript to reading the full thing. I find that very often the start is well crafted, but as the story progresses - particularly around the 30k mark - frequently unpublished authors have trouble maintaining the pace, characters, and standard of writing. The story seems to slowly disintegrate and my interest wanes. I really learnt from those unsuccessful attempts how to keep my own novels tight from beginning to end - which is extremely difficult and takes an incredible amount of planning beforehand (I've found) with writing scenes of later parts so they correspond with earlier parts to keep the actions tight, making bullet point series so as to keep the characters' motivations and ambitions the same as well as how they would react to things, and writing down lists of vocabulary to keep dialogue and the narrative constant.

Little Ming
05-24-2013, 07:34 PM
This primarily for lurkers or other who don't post much though I guess (hope) that anyone can benefit from my experience.

It's easy to read other people's writing and mentally take notes and make suggestions; we all do it. When I found myself in QLH taking the time to post and in an informative way tell the author why I thought certain aspect could be stronger my criticism became even clearer to me. That, is when I realized that I was learning from myself.

After critiquing I'd say, "Wait, why not apply this idea you're suggesting to your own query?" I took my advice and in doing so made my own query stronger. I don't think I'd have been able to do this without critiquing other's work as it was the act of having to express myself in a clear way to someone else--not just keeping it all in my head--that I was able to organize my thoughts well enough to truly learn from; well; from myself.

If you're in the process of writing; critique other's peoples writing then make sure you are practicing what you preach. Same for queries and everything else. Critiquing is a way of sharing what you know or a different perspective than what the author may have. Learning begets learning and sometimes you can even teach yourself.

We critters have been screaming this from the top of our tiny, squeaky lungs for a long time already. It's frustrating for us too, because, as you've discovered, critiquing is one of the best and fastest ways to improve ones writing abilities. But sometimes when we suggest it to other struggling writers it's like pulling teeth from a rabid alligator. No time, no experience, everything was already said, I have nothing to contribute, everything looks fine to me, can't you guys just help me, etc., etc. :Headbang:

Anyway... good for you, cnhull, for learning this lesson early. You're already ahead of the curve. ;)

Undercover
05-24-2013, 07:41 PM
Every time I start a novel, I always critique a little more or have a beta (or a few). I think the learning process never ends. All the years I've been writing, and I still continue to learn new things. And that's mainly due to critiquing.