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June 27, 2017



            I’ve brushed on this before, but because a member of my Henderson Writer’s Group brought it up at a recent meeting, I thought it was time to revisit this worthy subject.


            For those of you that attend a writer’s critique group, getting up to read is what it’s all about. Some of you read your own work to get feedback while others prefer someone else to read for you, so you can hear what you did from another voice (or because you suck at reading aloud or are terminally shy). It’s also practice for when you get out to market your book once you get published.


            At my last meeting, one member asked if I could get someone else to read my stuff because she didn’t like my “flat” voice. I didn’t have enough “inflection” in it for her. I try to vary the voices of each character, somewhat, but I’m no Mel Blanc or Robin Williams. I’m no voice actor. I try, but no ceegar. Some days I’m better at it than others, but given my work schedule and how late in the day the meeting convenes, I’m certainly not always at my best when it comes time to read my stuff. I think I do better than a lot of people. Others in the group don’t seem to have a problem with it, but not everyone is the same and I appreciate that fact.


            I politely declined to have someone else read my own stuff.






            Have you ever been in a situation where someone asks you which is your best learning method? Have you ever been admitted to the hospital? I know I have. One of the inpatient admission questions I’ve had to answer is:


“What is your preferred learning method?


            Audio, visual or written.”


            I usually put all three, but my preferred is visual and written, depending on the circumstances. Audio, if it’s accompanied with one of the others. With audio by itself, I tend to drift. Listening to someone drone on and on, even if they’re a gifted speaker, just doesn’t do it for me. Guess why I don’t have any audio books?


            So…when this group member asked if I could get someone else to read my stuff, I declined because it’s the same as when another member is reading. If I don’t have a copy of their work in front of me, I tend to drift and blank out. Even if I have a copy of their stuff, I tend to skip ahead, edit their copy and don’t even pay attention to what they’re saying.


            The only time I really pay attention to the audio, or what they’re saying is if I’m watching something. Then, the audio is critical.


            It boils down to if someone else reads my stuff, even though I’ll have my own copy sitting right in front of me, I’ll be self-editing, two or three steps ahead of the reader, something I’ve already done at home before I ever got to the meeting! The vocal performance of the reader will be useless to me, even if entertaining to the rest of the group.




            Even though I’ve probably read and self-edited my piece at least once, maybe twice, reading it aloud highlights stuff I never would’ve seen no matter how many times I read and re-read it to myself.


            Not only that, but as I said at the outset, not everyone thinks I drone on like that one person. Some people actually have no issue with the way I read. Individual tastes. I can’t please everyone.




            Back to that hospital question. What’s your best learning method? Are you a good listener? Do you prefer to read yourself, or would it be better for someone else to read it for you?


            Is your issue crippling shyness? Do you just suck as a reader? Trust me when I say that some people are just not cut to read to a group! We’ve all suffered through some of them!


            I can say that I was not the least bit hurt, upset, intimidated or put off by my friend’s request. It was a heart-felt opinion and I really did appreciate it. I explained why I won’t do it. She may not agree with or like my explanation, but oh well…


            Maybe she did understand.


            What I really appreciate is that she spoke up and gave me her honest feedback. That’s the whole point of these critique sessions!




            Whichever method you choose, the goal is to get your stuff read to the group, get your manuscript exposed so everyone can look for the loose ends, help you fix the issues and make it the best it can be. Whether you read it yourself or have someone do it for you, it’s time to get it done.


            Happy writing!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2017 12:46 am

    You make a very valid point. After all, it’s your work and you should be able to present it in such a way as to get out of it what you want. In other words, we should be critiquing the reader’s work, not the reader. Well said.

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