Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Art and Heart of Critiquing, Part II: But Would You Publish It?

I once read an editor's blog about the question of how you know when a piece is ready to submit. This editor said that you should only submit something when everyone in your critique group is so excited about it that they can't wait for you to submit it, when they are bursting with enthusiasm about the piece, when they can hardly think of a way to make it better.

Personally, I think that's a load of crap. It's a nice idea. But even though I have loved many Slushie stories, I don't know that I could say THAT about many of them. I doubt that everyone would say that about my pieces. And for that matter, there aren't that many published books that I've read that I can't think of a way to make better. Oh, sure, lots of classics and the really good ones, but they're in the minority.

My point is that if we held by this rule, none of us would ever send anything out. Some editors might say, "Good, less slush on my desk." But we are all good writers. By the time we finish with a piece, it is almost always good.

But would I publish it? Now there's the question.

Each of us in the group is like a different editor. We have different styles, different tastes. While I may think So-and-so's book is beautifully written, I'm not bursting with enthusiasm about it. Why? It's just not my thing. I'm sure others in our group would say that about my book. Fantasy just isn't their thing. It may be well-written with a tight plot and compelling characters, but still it may not light up your dashboard because you're looking for something else.

I'd like to find seven editors, sit them down in a room, and see if they're all bursting with enthusiasm over the same books.

However, I have to agree with Steph. If we're really serious about getting published, it may be a good question to ask. If for no other reason than to learn and grow from the answers to the follow up question: "Why not?"

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