Please welcome our good friend and regular swell gal at Murder She Writes, Cele!!!
I am a nitpicker. Thank heavens not in the literal sense, but entertainment wise I nit pick things to death. This drives my husband crazy, but it must also rub off because lately he’s been pointing out the massive, gapping, brain dead holes in whatever D-grade movies his favorite cable channels are airing for the fortieth time weekend. He is forever asking me if I can just sit down and watch something for the pure joy of watching. The answer is a straight up NO! Dumb and Dumber were just that, excruciatingly painful. Elf makes me ask, “What is it with people?” I just don’t get it. In fact if certain actors are in the movie, I will gladly forego a viewing in fear for my mental health numbers. And half of the made for SciFi channel movies, fagettaboutit!
This fact about me drives my husband crazy. Stupid humor is so painful I can’t see the lesson at the end of the film. While he’s chortling in glee, I am babbling in a current of drool, beating my head against a wall in anguish. Watch the Sci-Fi channel’s MegaGator sometime: plot, dialogue, and acting are abhorrent. The special effects so hideous, they are entertaining in their absurdity.
How do these monstrosities make it to the big screen, the little screen, DVD? How did they make it onto paper? How do they make it to a producer’s desk? Geez, you’ve been shopping manuscripts that are massively better than these pieces of dreck, how does this happen, what does it take?
Money. Mountains of green stuff is my guess. But still how did these pieces of “entertainment” with their gapping plot holes make it anywhere?
A critiquer’s job is a simple one, but hard to balance. You have to give your writer good, common sense input on their manuscript — which undoubtedly will be painful to them — and not offend or destroy their creative work or their egos. How do you do it? How do you tell them that their good main character can not say she didn’t know when clearly three chapters earlier she loudly demonstrated in full black on white, that yes, she most certainly did know? That no, it wasn’t snowing, because your main character, just two paragraphs before, noted the brilliance of the stars in the sky? That you can’t name two characters James — I don’t care if they are real people — it’s confusing to both plot and reader. (All are real critiques I’ve doled out to my authors over the past seven years.)
But how did I get them to listen and not destroy their self worth and feeling of comfort with their own work? Really it’s quite simple, I always try to balance my negatives with positives. A simple rule that I learned from my daughter’s second grade teacher, a negative must be replaced with two positives. That becomes rather unwieldy a rule for a 330 page document, but the premise is the same. I will always find things to rave about and not dwell strictly on the manuscripts problems. I let a writer know what and why I like a character, how their villain effects me, or the emotional impacts felt at precise times in the story. Why something rings true for me, just as other things ring false or hollow.
As a critiquer it is important to critique both the right and the errors.
For my author to have trust in me, I have to show them I value them and their work. I’m lucky that none of my writers insult my intelligence (I fear the day); I don’t insult their intelligence. Isn’t that what we want as readers, to be given a piece of writing that challenges us to think, to solve, to step into the pages of the book and live the characters? Whether it is a romance, a cozy, a thriller, or a fantasy we want to wear the characters. As a writer don’t we want to have readers eagerly anticipate the next paragraph, page, chapter?
As a writer how important to you is filling in all the holes? Making sure your lines are straight and connected? Sticking to the credible?
As a reader how much are you willing to forgive…or do you even notice inconsistencies, plot and timeline errors?
This enquiring mind wants to know.