Friday, August 13, 2010

I Am Still Alive

But dead tired.  Wow.  I completely overestimated the amount of activities I could fit into three super WriteOnCon days.

Note to self: Three year olds and one year olds do not care that mommy is working on the computer.

But I am here now (a walking zombie, maybe) and I want to know if any of you, my dear readers, attended the conference.  And if you did, what did you think?

My opinion:

The live chats--awesome.

Panel discussions--awesome.

Basically anything and everything having to do with the industry professionals--awesome.

Mass critique session--still on the fence on that one.  And I'll tell you why.  I've belonged to a few writing communities over the years where critiquing WIPs was the main order of the day, and though you can hit gold and find an amazing critique partner who understands your manuscript and really wants to help you, you'll also run into a lot of people who just won't ever "get" what you're writing and if you're not careful, they can lead you astray.

I've been doing this for so long that I think I'm pretty good at picking the good advice out of the bad advice.  When I first started, though, I made a lot of mistakes because I listened to what everyone said despite the fact I really didn't agree with them.  Clearly, if someone points out grammatical errors or typos, you should listen, but what about the other stuff?

Sometimes these mass critique sessions try to create cookie cutter manuscripts.  I.E. You shouldn't do it this way, but let me tell you how I would do it.  I try to avoid giving those kinds of critiques.

I'm actually not talking about any circumstances regarding my submissions into the critique slush pile.  But I am thinking about a particular writer friend of mine.  His query was ripped to shreds and it ended up winning a contest!  What would have happened if there wasn't a contest to show him just how awesome his query was?  I'm pretty sure he would have ignored the nay sayers, but a lot of people wouldn't.  A lot of people might have listened and destroyed an amazing query because it wasn't written the way others would write it.  And that's pretty sad.

But I remain on the fence with the mass critique stuff because you really can find the most amazing betas that way.  This writing stuff is no longer a lonely man's business.  We've got to get out there, make contacts, and find people who can really help our work shine.

What did you guys think of WOC?  Are you as jaded about mass critique sessions as me?


  1. I totally agree about the forums. It's kind of a crap shoot. I put my query up for crits, and it got bashed by several people I don't know.

    I put the same query, with one slightly different sentence in the contest being judged by Joanna - and ... it won. Go figure.

    Great post though Emily!

    Today's guest blogger is Ted Cross!

  2. what I got to see of write on con, was fun, I didn't get to participate in critques, because i couldn't get on the site for some weird reason. Anyway critiquing other peoples work is tricky business. I tend to enjoy it, but I also try not to give too much feed back. I find a little good and bad mixed together, then wait for a rewrite, then if needed critique again. But I don't listen to all the people who critique my work.

  3. Being that I don't write kidlit, I didn't participate in the critiques, but I did find WriteOnCon as a whole incredibly helpful. The live chats were my favorite part. There was so much there I wish I'd learned years ago!

  4. I did not participate in WOC, but agree on your take on mass crits...anything approved by the majority is likely to be mediocre.


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