Friday, February 12, 2010

Why the Tough Skin?

The safest thing for a writer to do would be to protect her manuscript from all of those prying eyes and "Track Changes" buttons. Keep it pressed tightly against her bosom, as she would a newborn baby, with her arms crossed over it. That action guarantees that the baby will never be examined, never be critiqued, never be published.

Undoubtedly, the writer already has edited, revised, and edited again, but when she sits in front of the computer screen with her finger poised on the mouse, ready to click "Attach," her breathing becomes shallow, her pulse races, and the palms of her hands drip sweat. Sending an MS to a critique group is risky business. The writer can stake her life savings that those heartless critiquers will delete this, change that, add a comma here, yank an exclamation point there, and scream, "Show! Don't tell!" [Delete those two exclamation points, Sharon. You've already said 'scream.'"] At the end, they'll add a soothing comment and tell you how much they really like your story and look forward to the next installment. Thing is, they mean it. Just as the writer does when she's in critiquer mode.

One must develop a skin as thick and tough as a rhino's--get used to critiques, embrace them, discern which comments will improve the work, and be grateful that someone cared enough to be honest.

Once the MS is as good as the writer can make it, she sends it out. That rhino skin will come in handy again because agents and editors will critique the work from their perspectives. If they accept the work, it will undergo more editing and revision. To read how three agents regard such, visit the following links:

BookEnds, LLC  A Literary Agency

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