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My Agent Wish List

ImageSince I decided to apply myself to my burgeoning career as a writer I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject of agents.  How to get an agent, what an agent can do for you, why bother to have an agent etc… I made the choice to pursue the traditional path of publishing because I’m brand new to the whole writing world and I wanted to find someone who knows more than I can read on the internet to guide me.

Now, for obvious reasons, agents aren’t easy to come by.  There’s the querying, then the sending the pages, then the anticipation and long waits.  But in a lot of cases once you get accepted into Agentland it seems like a pretty good place to be.  However, I have heard some horror stories, tales of neglect and being cheated, of communication breakdowns and other issues relating to writers and their agents.

In all the talk of getting an agent, the breathless hoping and the crossed fingers, I don’t often hear about people setting expectations for their agent.  In fact, more often than not, it seems to be the other way around.  Perhaps it’s the scarcity of the acceptance letters that keep writers from being realistic and business-minded about the prospect of getting an agent’s attention, but the more I dip my toe in the waters of the agent sea, the more I try to solidify my own expectations and form a wish list of my own for finding a good agent match.

I’m an entrepreneur.  I’ve been in business for myself for probably around eight years now and I find that has helped me to understand what it is I’m looking for in a business partner.  Because that’s what an agent is, a business partner.  Agents are the people who will represent you in the publishing world, they are the people who will help you make money and they are the people who will champion your work just as much as you will champion it yourself.  As a writer, you are definitely an artist, but you are also a business person running your own small business and I find it helps me to see it as such.  Because I don’t want just anyone to join my business, do you?

You can learn a certain amount about an agent through internet searches and websites, but the real trick is getting to know them (if they like your work enough to give you a call or offer representation).  It’s at that point when you have a choice.  You don’t just have to jump into business with the first person who likes you, although it may be tempting after all that longing and waiting.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and figure out if the agent you are in contact with is the right fit for you and your work.

Agents often have wish lists, books they want to represent or topics they are interested in (which you can generally find in their interviews or on their websites), but as writers I think it’s important that we do too.  As I spend more time in the industry, meet people and do my research, I try to narrow down my own agent wish list to the most important points.  So in the future when I (hopefully) get the chance to work with an agent, I’ll know what I’m looking for.

Here’s my agent wish list:

Good Communication – Communication is key for any good business partnership.  Can I be honest with this person?  Can I ask them questions?  Do they respond in a timely manner to my communications?  Are they willing to be honest with me?  Do we have a good flow to our communications?

Shared Literary Interests – Although I have a style and a general tone to my work (typically magic realism), sometimes I like to experiment.  I want an agent who enjoys all of my work and is interested in a bit of diversity of style, genre and format.

Open Minded – Most of my main characters tend to be bisexual.  I sometimes write books about sex and drugs (not always, but it happens).  I need an agent who is open to LGBT characters and the idea of things getting a little racy.

Hands-On Industry Guidance – I’m a publishing noob but I’m totally willing to work my ass of to make my career a reality.  I’m looking for someone who wants to work with me to help me learn the ropes of the industry.

Passion – I’m crazy passionate about things I dedicate myself to.  Sometimes to the point of insanity.  I need an agent who is just as passionate and excited as I am, because I want to feel the shared love for the work.

Sense of Humour – I like my business partners like I like my friends, with a sense of humour about things.  Life’s too short to take things too seriously and I want to know that I can have a laugh with someone I’m going to work closely with!

That’s pretty much it.  I guess it’s not a lot to ask for, but I’m sure there are agents out there who will fit that criteria and those who won’t.  But when it comes time to decide I don’t want to settle for someone who won’t be a good long term business partner, I don’t think any writer should!

Writers – Do you have an agent wish list?  Feel free to share!
Agents – What are your thoughts on writers having wish lists? Do you have wish lists of your own?

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Writing & Reading Animal Cruelty

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I was at a reading for a feminist writing series a couple weeks ago where a writer was reading from her book about a female matador.  In the Q&A period that followed the writers were asked about their worst reactions to their books.  The woman who had written the matador book said an editor refused to read/work on her book because of the animal cruelty.  It was at that point that the whole room gasped in shock.  They were appalled!  They rolled their eyes!  How could that editor be so silly? was the general question that hung in the air.  It’s an editor’s job to read books, so it shouldn’t matter what’s in it…should it?

I was taken aback.  I frankly expected more from a bunch of feminists.  If feminists expect people to respect their cause and concerns, shouldn’t they respect the causes and concerns of others?

I wanted to put my hand up and say I understood the editor’s perspective and shame on them for being so rude about someone’s preferences, but I didn’t.  It’s not that I have a problem piping up, it’s just that it’s a complex topic and I didn’t want to derail the conversation and take the spotlight off the writers.  So instead of speaking up then, I’m doing it now.

I’m a vegetarian.  I was a vegetarian for about ten years before I started eating meat again around the age of twenty-five or six, now I’m happily back to my vegetarian ways.  Every time I ate meat for the six or seven years I was back at it, I felt guilty.  I really hated it because I really love (and respect) animals and because I love animals so much I tend to get easily turned off when someone is abusing them.

But in a fictional story does it really matter?  To me it does.

Once when I wanted to write a horrible character, like a really horrible character, I made her kill a dog.  When I finished writing the scene I was horrified, but to me it drove home the impact of her horribleness.  Sure the character was manipulative and a rapist and was responsible for a couple of human deaths too, but to me none of that compared to the evil that was killing an animal.  After all is said and done I still have a residual feeling of guilt for using violence against animals to enhance the negativity of a character.  Why?  Treating animals well is just something I feel strongly about, even in my fiction.  So whenever I see a character in any circumstance be mindless or cruel to animals, I automatically hate them and hold it against them…usually forever.

Overall I believe animal cruelty does have a place in fiction, but if it’s sustained and pointless I tend to shy away from it because it’s just not fun for me to read something that makes me feel horrible for whatever animal is being harmed.

I think in some cases animal cruelty can have a point though.  For example I just wrote a story about an aquarium (which I think are disgusting, cruel prisons for fish) where the main character learned to feel empathy for the fish and ultimately sad about their enslavement.  But a lot of the time I feel that animal cruelty is either used because it’s an easy emotional trigger (like the way I used it to make my character evil) or it goes unaddressed as a problem.  People eat animals all the time, so why should hurting them be a problem?

Ultimately I wouldn’t want to read a book about a matador because the violence against animals isn’t being addressed (as far as I know), it’s just a backdrop for the story of the main character and I don’t find that interesting enough to endure animals being tortured.  Clearly the editor who was being mocked at the event felt the same way as me and I’m here to say I agree with her.  I feel what she’s feeling.  Everyone has their sensitive issues, or things they don’t want to see/read because it bothers them and I don’t think anyone should be put down for that.

For me, I deal with animal cruelty in fiction very selectively and frankly I think that’s perfectly okay.

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NaNoWriMo advice from a fast writer

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I’m a fast writer.

Seriously, short stories take me an hour or two (maybe) and a first draft of a novel has yet to take me more than a month and a half (at most).  Fast is just the way I’m built.  I think fast, talk fast (much to my parent’s confusion), hell I even do dishes fast.  I’m impatient to get on with life, so I get’er done.  To me this is a blessing, although some might see it as a curse.  Once I was in a writing group and one of my group buddies told me that one of my short stories should be revised and revised and that I should work on it for months.  I laughed in his face then quit the group (okay so maybe it wasn’t as dramatic as all that, but I still did disagree and eventually leave because the pace of the group was too slow).  Fucked if I’m going to work on a short story for months, I have things to do with my life.  Don’t you?

Sure you do.  We all have things to do with our lives and we want to get on with it.

So you’ve decided to jump into NaNoWriMo have you?  You think you can write over 50,000 words in one month?  You think you can get a first draft of a novel done in 30 days?

You’re damn right you can.

Here’s a list of my best advice for people who need to write fast this November:

Let go of slow

I feel as though writers have this romantic image of themselves more often than not.  Imagine a secluded space, a darkened cafe or a mountain top, or a secret garden or a dusty library.  There the writer sits, rolling up their sleeves, dipping quill into ink pot and writing the most romantic words of all time, the words that will make the world shiver with delight and quiver with depth of meaning.  There’s writerly advice all over the place suggesting we slow down, take some time and delve into the ‘true spirit of writing’; this pen/pencil/quill in hand idea of what writing really means.  I’ve heard writing compared to meditation, a slow unravelling of self onto the page, a long, deliberate exploration of your inner thoughts.  Does this sound perfect to you?  Do you want to be the hermit writer on the mountaintop slowly penning the perfect prose?

Forget it.  You know what’s boring?  Meditation.  I tried it once and it sucks.  There you are sitting alone in some room or some park when the world is getting shit done.  And please, the idea of writing by hand not only makes my carpel tunnel flare, but it also makes me want to stab my eyes out with pencils.  Who said self exploration has to be slow?  Who said good things take time?  Life is short folks, embrace speed.  Thanks to technology the world is moving faster and faster.  You’re keeping up, so why not your writing?  Forget the notion of slow and deliberate and open yourself up to the creative chaos that is breathless speed, the kind of speed that doesn’t let you pause and think, or ruminate on your success/failure.  The more you think (or over think) the slower you are likely to be because the thoughts and nit picking will slow you down.


Get busy

Schedule other things in your life, fill it up.  The more you have to do, the better because the more you will want to/need to cram into what little time you have left to write.

Also, the act of being out in the world is damn inspiring, walking inspires genius (so does working out – I’m pretty sure physiologically working out is good for your brain).  Taking time to let your mind work away in the background can be the very thing you need.  Don’t shy away from a social life, be inspired by it instead.  The more you force yourself into the writing without breaks or time to think the more clunky your thoughts will become.

Always schedule time to breathe.

Get bored

I bore easily.

As Ben can attest to, I need constant entertainment.

This is probably one of the main reasons I write so fast, because I get bored of my stories.  Not because my stories are boring (at least I hope not) but because there is only so long I like to linger in one spot.

So try getting bored.  Get bored of the word you are struggling with and move on.  Get bored of the sentence and keep going.  Get bored of the chapter, the situation and keep it fresh.  The more bored you are, the less you are likely to hang out with the same ideas forever.  Moving on is the best remedy for boring situations.

Relinquish attachment

I like to move.

I have changed apartments once a year for the past six or seven years.  Each time I move I toss out everything I possibly can (or sell it) and go into the new space fresh.  It’s liberating.  Stuff is just stuff, it means nothing in the grand scheme of things.  This state of mind, this relinquishing of attachment serves me well in writing too.

Words are just words.  They can be tossed out or rearranged like furniture, depending on your needs.  My ability to throw out things, items, objects, that I may have found important once allows me to quickly cull my words.  If a sentence isn’t working, I’ll cut it and start fresh with just the idea.  This allows me not only a certain amount of brevity, but a lack of attachment that I find speeds up my entire process.

Note:  If you have attachment issues and still want to try relinquishing as an experiment, just save drafts so you can go back and linger over your lost words once you are done NaNoWriMo.

Plan, a little

I’ve been running through the opening line for my NaNoWriMo project for the past week.  Just the first line.  The rest is broad strokes, open ended but with a vague idea of where I’m going.
I find a little bit of planning goes a long way, but too much can spoil the fun.  I’m writing a project with my Mother-in-law during the month of November which necessitated more planning than I’m used to.  But I don’t mind.  In my head it seems to be working out.
I don’t want to get stuck.  I don’t want an insurmountable surprise hurdle half way through.

A basic structure is a good idea and knowing the end is key.  Just enough to be ever so slightly bored.  To feel as though the story is slightly written, but still be left with some unexpected moments.

Dream big & positive

Before I even start a book I tend to think big.

I like to think about my potential audience, if I can sell it.  How it will be appreciated.

I don’t write to be famous or make loads of cash and I certainly don’t think anyone should (because good luck with that).  But it’s nice to imagine that some day your work may be read, enjoyed and even awarded, because who doesn’t like to be recognized for their talents and efforts?

I give you full permission to dream big, to imagine your adoring fans and your book/movie deals starring the hottest movie stars you care to imagine.  Because who knows?  And it’s always nice to have a little extra incentive to get writing.

Fuck your word count goals

Keeping track of work count is fun, but it can also be bad.
You have a story to tell, not a word count to achieve.

When Ben and I work out, Ben knows he has to work out for half an hour at least.  He used to watch the clock and as soon as it hit half an hour he would start feeling tired and give up.  So he started turning the clock around and magically he went for longer.

I’m not a psychologist, but I reckon that seeing your daily word count goal achieved will make you more likely to slow down once you’ve hit the mark and that’s just not good enough.

Try re-working the goal in your mind here’s some ideas of new ways to frame it that will probably get more out of you:

• Start writing after breakfast and write until you are genuinely hungry for lunch
• Give yourself a chapter goal – a chapter a day for example (especially good if you have a more concrete story outline)
• Write until you can’t physically write anymore
• Write until the idea is complete

Get competitive

I recently heard someone referring to completing their NaNoWriMo goal as ‘winning’ and I thought: fuck yeah.  I want to win the hell out of this thing.

I’m very competitive though, some people don’t care as much about winning as I do.

But in my heart I believe everyone cares at least a little about winning.  Find that time when you cared about winning something, whether it was the swim meet in grade 3 or the heart of your lover.  Find that and remember that feeling.  The elation, the high of competition.

Then go for the gold.

Win, win, win!

Open the document

This is the first hard part.

This is the one that gets me sometimes.

If you’re afraid to do it, it will never get done.  So just open the damn document and get typing.  I promise it isn’t as bad as you think.

So there you have it.  Some tips from a fast writer.
Have any more?  Let me know below!

P.S. If you actually want to be a writer, don’t use NaNoWriMo as a crutch – read THIS to catch my drift.

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Books on writing (and why I don’t believe in them)

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You can’t learn writing from a book.

There are hundreds (probably thousands) of writing books out there and some that are even considered essential, like ‘On Writing’ or ‘Elements of Style’.  You can read all the books you want though, but the only thing that is going to make you a better writer is…writing.

Reading is good, great even for a writer.  You should read widely to get a feeling for different styles and to expand your mind, but in my opinion, your reading shouldn’t necessarily include books on writing.  I’ve read a couple and at the end of the day, the main message from all of them is: get writing.  And so they should be.  Everyone has different opinions on what makes a good story, beautiful prose and stunning poetry.  Everyone has a different story to their writing life and, although interesting and sometimes inspiring, hearing the stories of how other people write (or got famous doing it) does little to help make you better.  Sure you can learn grammar rules from books like ‘Elements of Style’ but ideally, before you start trying to be a writer, you actually have a grasp on the basics.

With every writing book I read, the writer tries to guide and suggest and I don’t always agree.  I usually agree with about half of the things they’re saying and wholeheartedly disagree with the other half.  One person suggests writing in a coffee shop is for people who are just seeking attention, but I like the atmosphere and the bustle.  Another person suggests not to show your work in progress, but I love having Ben read my chapters as I go along.  Then, of course, there are the attributes that supposedly describe writers, stuck in your head, crazy, lonely, dramatically melancholy, plagued by stories and characters that kick you in the brain until you writer them.  These things seem to be universal, but I don’t really feel as though they fit into my vision of myself as a writer.  Then, on the flip side, there is the good advice: write every day, don’t be discouraged by rejection, dig deep to find good stories, focus on character.  All sound advice, but frankly it just seems like common sense.

I understand that writing is tough and sometimes you’re just looking for a little inspiration, a little moment where you can read someone else’s story and struggles and realize you are not alone.  The appeal of books on writing is that they allow us to connect with like-minded people.  But other than that, these books offer a wealth of advice I could either take or leave.  Simple logic.  So, ultimately, I hold fast to my original thought on the whole matter:

You can’t learn writing from a book.  The only thing that will make you a better writer is writing.

Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know!

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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Advice for new writers (or old ones that need some inspiration)

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The Short

Just write.  Writing isn’t about being good, it’s about being passionate.  Don’t let anyone tell you how to write or what to write, just keep writing and don’t stop till your arms hurt and your eyes refuse to focus on the page.

The Long

Each time I sit down to write and stare at an empty page, a void opens up in front of me.  It’s a wide expanse that alternates between self doubt and emptiness and I peer into it with wide eyes and half a heart.  Sometimes it lasts a fraction of a second and other times the seconds march on into minutes, but either way, it’s my job to leap over the void and into the story.  Each time it’s my job to overcome my boundaries and write.

Art is an act of bravery and writing is an act of art.


When we put words on a page it exposes us, our hopes and dreams, our darker side, our interests and passions.  We are exposed to whomever might be reading our words, but more importantly, we are exposed to ourselves.  When we write honestly and openly, there’s nowhere for us to hide and that can be a scary thing.


Try it now.  Open a word document or a journal (of you like writing by hand) and write a series of statements about yourself.  Each one should start with ‘I’.  Write until you come to a natural end.

Did you do it?

I did:

I am tasting the water.
I am speaking with fire.
I am opening my eyes.
I close them too often.
I am thinking of something I don’t want to do.
I dream of things I’d rather not speak of.
I wish for little but hope for everything.
I am waiting for summer to arrive.
I wish I could see the moon on the lake every night of my life.
I want to write well.
I want to be good.
I need to be real, or else what am I?

So what does this mean?  Maybe something, maybe nothing.  It’s just words on a page that came from my mind.  Sometimes it is more meaningful than others but if we spent our whole lives trying to read into the words that we conjure, we wouldn’t get anything done now would we?

So my advice is to write…but how to write?

Write like no one’s reading


Because no one is.  Sure you’re reading, but you know yourself right?  So it’s not all that bad.  The more you write for other people, the more you will veer away from what you are passionate about and what drives you.  If you aren’t writing for you, you will probably get bored of it mighty fast.

Write like there is no good

There are so many different kinds of writers (and readers) out there, who’s to say what good really is?  And even if there is a good and you’re not it, as long as you are doing what you love, why should it matter?  If you’re writing for fame and fortune, it’s a long shot anyway, even for people who are really crazy amazing.  So best stick with the love and try to go from there.

Write with curiosity

Try new things.  I’ve always written urban fantasy, but I have a great deal of respect and passion for truly well written high fantasy (which I believe is scarce), so I’m going to give it a try.  I’m curious to see if I can write high fantasy well.  Don’t limit yourself to what you think you’re good at, try new things, because they may surprise you and if nothing else, the challenge will hone your skills.

Write free

People will try to tell you all sorts of shit about your writing, I promise.  Everyone will have a different opinion.  Some people will love it, some people will hate it and, unfortunately, some people might even try to read into your psyche through your writing. This is about as effective as a psychic reading (meaning not effective at all).  Sure writing exposes you and opens you up to your inner voice, but trying to make sense of that in any psychologically profound way is nigh impossible and ridiculously fruitless.  Write free.  Don’t read too deeply into your writing.  As humans we are great at (and love to) find patterns.  We will even find them when they are vague or nonexistent.  So don’t cling to patterns and let yourself believe they mean things about your subconscious, and for the love of all the gods, don’t let anyone else do it either.

Write with the knowledge that you can always edit later

Everyone has a different way of doing things, but I like to get a full thought out before I edit.  Whether it’s a paragraph, a chapter or a whole story, if you’re in the flow don’t chicken out and go back to check if everything’s al good.  The past is the past and it isn’t going away, so move into the future as far as you can before venturing back.  But please don’t forget to venture back, because it isn’t perfect back there, not yet.

Write with passion

Write for the love, not the money (because the money will either be slow to come or will never come at all).  Write because you can’t stop yourself.  Write because it makes you happy (or makes you miserable not to).  Write because you’re curious and you want to try.  Write because beauty is possible.  Write because life is too precious to go without mentioning.

All of the points above are well and good, but they all have one thing in common.  The word ‘write’.  So at the end of the day, the take home message is, was and always will be: write.  Just close your eyes, jump over the damn void and write like hell.


Tell me about your challenges and share your ‘I’ lists!

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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The art (and sandwich) of the critique

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So I’ve been attending various groups and trying to chime in on writing forums to critique other people’s writing.  I like doing it because I feel as though I am sort of paying it forward for all those times other people have helped me with critiques.  I also like it because it helps me delve into the craft of writing and really get a feel for different styles and what works for me and what doesn’t.  

So critiquing is awesome, it forces you to think critically about the writing world around you and (ideally) gives you a more honed ability to turn that critical eye on yourself.  

Critiquing is awesome, but sometimes it can be hard.  You want to be helpful, but you certainly don’t want to send the critiquee home bawling, dreams of a literary future crushed under the weight of your scathing review.  

So now, I shall bestow upon you my rules for the art of the critique, gathered during my relatively short career as a reviewer of many works of fiction and non-fiction alike:

Don’t try to change the writer (or the story)

I went to Ad Astra.  It was nothing to write home about (hence the lack of commentary posts about it) but I did hear one thing that stuck with me.  It was during a discussion on critiquing that someone piped up and said – don’t try and change the story you’re critiquing.  

At some point in our lives as readers and reviewers I’m sure we’ve all done it – thought (or said aloud): wouldn’t it be better if the story was (insert opinion on how the writer should change the genre, the style or the storyline completely).

Maybe it would be better if the story was completely different, or if the style was more up your alley…better for you.  Remember you are critiquing someone else’s work, not your own and it’s so much easier if you critique in context.  Don’t try and change a writer or their style, finding their own voice is up to them.  What you should be doing is trying to help them by making the style they’ve chosen and the story they want to tell the best it can be.  

Maybe you’d prefer if half the characters were anthropomorphized animals, maybe you think it would be smashing if the protagonist discovered latent super powers half way through the novel or maybe you think a good dose of gritty stylistic modification would spice up that children’s book.  But ultimately, it’s up to the writer.  Feel free to suggest whatever you want, but at some point it’s going to feel like you’re just banging your head against the wall, trying to make someone a writer they aren’t – and that just sucks for everyone.  

At the end of the day, if the writing just isn’t speaking to you maybe it’s best to just pack it in and pass it on to someone who might be more capable of critiquing that writer’s work.  

Use ‘I feel’

Let’s face it, when we create and allow others to critique our work we are making ourselves vulnerable and it’s a tough thing for anyone to do.  Although thick skin is always good, there’s probably very few people who are immune to the bad review blues.  So let’s do our part to soften the blow a little.  

Using ‘I feel’ can sometimes remind the writer that it is just your opinion.  This is important, because frankly, that’s all it is.  There will always be different strokes for different folks and your critique is probably not the be all and end all.  I try (as much as I can) to explain that my review is just my perspective and if I’m not their ideal reader, I like to tell them that.  Sometimes it helps make things a bit easier if the writer is reassured that your opinion is just one in a million and they ultimately have to do what they feel is best.  

Strengths and missed opportunities

I have someone in one of my writing groups who uses the system ‘strengths and missed opportunities’ for critiquing.  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it’s pretty good.  Starting with the strengths is always a good thing.  As pattern seeking monkeys, when we are told we need to ‘critique’ something, we automatically look to be critical.  But so often when we do that, we miss out on what we liked or even loved about the piece.  Sharing the strengths is not only good because it gives us the warm fuzzies, it’s also good because it’s telling the writer what to keep doing.  

Missed opportunities can also be a helpful way to frame the more negative stuff because it reminds me of the number one rule, don’t try and change the writer.  Instead of thinking ‘why this piece sucks’, when I think of missed opportunities, it makes me think contextually and inside the framework of the existing piece.  So bravo to the person in my writing group who introduced me to this concept – and thanks!

The sandwich

Sandwiches are delicious.  Who doesn’t love them?  So why not make your review a sandwich!  This goes along with the above point and I find it useful in written reviews (or really any time you need to say something critical).  It’s the good-bad-good sandwich.  Start with the good, move onto the bad (or missed opportunities) and end on a high note, with something encouraging and awesome!  Yum – critique sandwich!

Give exercises

I like giving people challenges, or something they can do on their own to help them visualize what I’m trying to say.  If I’m not feeling the dialogue chemistry, I might suggest practicing writing scenes of pure dialogue.  If they’re stumbling over description I say slow down and write a half a page about a location.  This doesn’t mean they should absolutely use it in their writing, it’s just a way to practice to make things a little more footloose and fancy free!

Share your fears and feelings

If you’re a writer too, you probably have some stories to tell (see what I did there?) about bad critiques and times where you’ve felt unsure about yourself.  Share yourself with the writer you are critiquing.  Make that connection, because it might just help them (and you) in the long run.

Don’t be so definitive

Nothing is set in stone, so don’t make it sound like it is.  Try to hold yourself back from saying ‘this is crap’ with no further elucidation.  Also, please avoid making barfing sounds while you read their work too, they won’t appreciate it.*

Don’t be a douche!

Ah the final and most important rule.  Don’t be a douche!  It’s really easy to bring people down, but it takes skill and compassion to actually try to help them.  And ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to do!  Here’s my dos and don’ts:

Don’t

• Be condescending
• Make assumptions about them
• Talk down to them
• Try to ‘educate’ them (try saying how you feel or sharing what you’ve learned along the way instead)
• Write them off simply because you don’t like their writing

Do

• Tell them how you feel
• Make sure they know it’s just your opinion
• Share your own struggles and challenges
• Use the sandwich!

Did I miss something?  Let me know in the comments!

*This may have sounded like I was speaking from personal experience, but I’m not.  It just kind of popped in there.