Getting The Most From A Critique

Every time I get together with my writing group, we make time to share something we’re working on. To get the most of critiques, here’s a few things to keep in mind.

Critiquing isn’t a job to be taken lightly. Someone has chosen to share their ‘baby’ with you, and your care and attention to their work should reflect that trust. Do your best to avoid suggesting changes based on personal preference. People would rather hear up front, “You know what, nothing personal but I don’t read _______. I’m not sure I’m the best one to read your work.”

C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were in a writer’s critique group called the Inklings. They were each other’s toughest critic.

Set The Tone

If I’ve taken the time to bring something to read and get feedback, I’m not looking for a confidence boost, I’m looking to make my work better. But not everyone wants that. When you bring work to a group to read, or a fellow writer for critique, be sure to establish right up front what you’re looking for. When someone says, “I just wrote this, it’s really rough. I just wanted to share.” That person is looking for an audience not a critique. If I picked their work apart they’d be devastated because that isn’t what they were looking for.

Set Goals

What do you want a critiquer to look for? Are you looking for feedback on dialogue, plot, setting, description – what? Give the critiquers something to listen for. When I bring work to be critiqued by a group, I ask them to listen for 1, no more than 3, specific elements. You’re more likely to get useful feedback this way than six answers all over the map.

When I go to fiction intensives at conferences, you’re given a set of 10 or so questions to answer, each examines one aspect of a piece. Is the dialogue effective? Is the story vague in any place? These sorts of focus questions will give more detailed feedback. If you’ve got 5 people saying, “Yeah, I didn’t get that he died there” that’s a definite detail that you can identify to tweak instead of 5 people saying different things, because what if they’re the only one confused by that?

Choose Critiquers Based On Their Strengths

When I’m on the first draft, I’m looking for feedback on several key areas usually. I’m looking for feedback on the idea in general, characterization, and description because I know those are personal weaknesses. These are more big picture edits of a scene or story. Heather is good at identifying with characters – does the audience like my protagonist or is another character stealing the show? I ask certain people to look for specific things.

When I’m looking for brutal honesty though – I mean, cut throat, no-holds-barred critique, I go to Marcy every time.  But why not go to Marcy for all critiques? Because we have a close relationship, I feel free to ask her (though she’s a professional) to read my work, but if I asked her to read everything at every stage I’d wear her out. There’s giving favors and being taken advantage of. I save the Marcy critique for the final step before Beta readers. She’s going to drill into word use, POV shifts, grammar and punctuation (if I ask her to), show don’t tell, small picture edits scene by scene. Often I ask her for feedback on sensory description, conflict, hooks, the finer details of a work.

Does that mean that the earlier critiquers aren’t useful? Absolutely not! Without them, Marcy is distracted by big picture problems and she won’t bother critiquing the finer details because there are major problems that need to be fixed first. Before you ask a roofer to come, you have to make sure you’ve got four walls first. I’ve wasted her time.

When I’m at the final step before querying, I turn to my beta readers. These are readers, not writers. I turn to my mom for some projects (a life-long avid reader in certain genres who won’t hold back on the criticism), and a couple of university pals who are intelligent readers. If your mom loves everything you write she may not be a good one to have at this stage. I don’t have that problem :/

I only turn to writing professionals in my network when I’m looking for a pair of fresh eyes on marketing material like a one-sheet, query or synopsis. (outside of a conference) I don’t ask them for a critique of the manuscript because typically they charge a fee for that, and I’d feel like a skunk asking them to do it for free. A marketing critique isn’t as intense, and I’m asking more for their professional opinion. I’ve only done this twice in the last 10 years.

Know Your Own Strengths And Weaknesses

I know that dialogue and conflict are my strengths. I don’t often ask for feedback on those issues. Rather, I’m going to ask my early critiquers to focus on the areas I’m weaker on. Because I’ve done a lot of critiques, I can recognize weaknesses in other people’s stuff, but struggle to have that objectivity with my own work.

Do you have a critique partner or writing group you look to for feedback?

Lisa

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

Co-Writing When Distance Separates You

Marcy here: You guessed it. I’m super busy too. But that’s actually a good thing for you because it means you get the second part of the co-writing posts we put together a while back and never made live.

How do you collaborate when you live miles–or even countries–apart?

Thanks to the Internet, you don’t have to let distance or conflicting schedules stop you. In fact, we usually only see each other once a year. The online community has created dozens of free collaboration tools you can use to connect remotely. Many of these share common features, like limiting public visibility, assigning certain editorial controls, and requiring you to sign up for a membership. Of the variety of platforms we’ve tried, here are our thoughts on what’s worked well and not so well. 

(We’ve only listed the free platforms we’ve tested. The fee-based platforms have a lot of bells and whistles, but the free platforms offer the basic necessities required for online collaboration. Some platforms, like WebEx, will also give you a free trial, but then want a monthly fee to continue using it. We’re all about free here.)

WordPress

You can create a free WordPress blog, and using the P2 theme, establish a meeting place. P2 lets you post statuses or updates like you would on Facebook or Twitter. WordPress also allows you to import directly from Word with the “kitchen sink” feature that copies all formatting from one program to another, and use standard WordPress tags and categories, which is handy. We didn’t find this platform very helpful, but see its potential for a large number of people contributing to and editing a single work.

Word – Track Changes

With the track changes feature (under the Review tab in Word), Word embeds comments and changes directly in the text. If you’ve got multiple projects on the go, keeping track of which version you’re using for various projects can be tricky. We rename each version with our initials and the version number, so Chapter 2 LW1 or Chapter 8 MK3.

One caution—be sure you learn how to fully use the feature so you’re not sending an editor all of your edits and comments. We’ve found that this one is best left for longer projects like novels. It’s the option we’re using for our co-written novel.

To reduce the risk of confusion with a novel-length project, we send chapters back and forth in clusters of 5. When a cluster has finally passed our rigorous editing rounds, we save a clean version to a final file.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a free document platform where you can create, share, and view documents. There are limitations as to the amount of formatting you can do (margins, page orientation, fonts, etc.). For those unfamiliar with web formatting codes though, this platform does most of the basic formatting required by most publications with the click of a button. You can export a file as a Word document, but Google Docs has a habit of breaking the formatting codes. We don’t use this very often, but know of others who love it.

Writeboard

Writeboard is an online collaborative writing platform. (This company has several collaborative platforms, but they’re not all free.) You can share your writeboard with any number of people, and access your writeboard from any computer with internet access.

Writeboard has a few cons, like the lack of formatting tools and no word count feature, and you must set up separate writeboards for every project. However, once you’re done collaborating on the piece, you can export to Word, or another program, as either a .txt file or an .html file without glitches.

Writeboard automatically tracks every version and who worked on it, and has a comments feature. With one click you can switch back to previous versions (because you liked that paragraph the way it read two weeks ago).

We loved the built-in RSS feed. With a glance at our toolbars, we knew if the other had worked on the document without having to log in to check. Unfortunately, Writeboard will lock you out if your collaborator is working on the document though. And it’s much better for shorter projects.

Zoho Writer (Beta)

So far, the winner for us has been Zoho Writer, though it’s still in beta (a techie way to say they haven’t found all the glitches). Zoho has all the standard word processing features like formatting, page setup, and review tools, and comes with online storage, so we can save all our collaborative documents in one place.

Like Writeboard, it tracks your changes, so if you’re worried about losing your work you’re covered. Finding previous versions has been problematic. We’re hoping this is one of the “bugs” they iron out.

Zoho is our number one choice because it allows for editing and writing simultaneously in real time, has a chat feature, and lets you embed comments like the Track Changes feature in Word. Still no voice chat feature though.

This is the tool we used for creating the query letter, 1-page synopsis, and 3-page synopsis for our current WIP.

What programs have you had success with collaborating on writing projects remotely?

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

Promotion Tips for Co-Writers

Cowriting can be a great boon to your career – think Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins – or the anchor that beaches your writing career. Marcy and Lisa have been writing together for almost 3 years. We started out as good friends with similar interests before launching into freelancing together, and we work well together – but we thought we’d share a few promotion tips for cowriters.

women holding sign 'mutual benefit'The Key To Success

If you write together long enough, one challenge you’ll encounter is how to juggle joint and individual networking and promotion. The lynchpin for us has been mutual benefit. Any of our joint platforms also promote our individual freelance work and vice versa. We’ve reaped many benefits from this, including saving time.

Visibility

If you want a career as a professional writer, you need a web presence through a website, a blog, and social networking sites. As part of maintaining our independent careers, we both have our own websites. This allows us to display our individual work in our portfolio sections (though we also both display co-written articles there as well). It also allows us to have something to show to clients who will only be working with one of us, and to highlight our unique areas of expertise.

To save time and to promote our partnership, we share this blog. Marcy made Lisa sit down and make a plan for the blog, and to humor Lisa, Marcy lets Lisa decide spur of the moment when it’s her week what to post about inside stated guidelines. If Marcy is out of town, Lisa covers, and vice versa. By splitting the work, we’re able to do three posts a week, something neither of us had time to do on our own.

Regardless of who posts, we both promote the latest blog post on networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and G+, doubling the exposure that we’d otherwise have individually. Even if you don’t plan to write together regularly, if you know a writer who you trust and who has a similar vision to yours, sharing a blog can be a huge time saver as long as each participant has high visibility.

Conferences

Another area where our divide-and-conquer strategy has served us well is at writer’s conferences. We bring our own business cards, one-sheets, and presentation binders, but our presentation binders often contain pieces we’ve co-written. We attend different sessions and exchange notes afterward. This broadens our investment at each conference and our network of contacts.

On occasion we’ve gotten a reputation for being inseparable. (David Koop from Multnomah, who we met at Mt. Hermon, will probably always remember us as the quirky Canadian girls who finished each other’s sentences.) The lines can be fuzzy, and you need to be prepared for some people to remember you only for your co-written work and to not want to work with you independently.

This doesn’t bother us, but if sharing the limelight bothers you, you might want to hold off on entering a co-writing relationship.

It’s not all about you

The most important thing to remember when you’re networking and promoting together is that you’re going to be more successful if you support and build up the other person. When we hear about a good opportunity, whether it be an editor looking for new writers, a job, or an idea that we’re not going to pursue but that the other might enjoy, we pass it along.

We’ve even entered the same contests and critiqued each other’s work – never had a problem because we’re friends underneath everything else, and want the other one to see her dreams come true whether we ever see our own happen.

When it comes to managing the distance, as well as networking and promotion, flexibility is the key. Be willing to bend a little, be patient with the other person, and if they’re doing the same for you, you might just form a partnership (and a friendship) that lasts a lifetime.

So – your turn. How do you juggle your writing, your family, and other outside commitments?

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

Balancing The Writing Load

Once you have that co-writing partner, you need to figure out how to divide the work evenly, or your partnership will quickly dissolve. For us, this has all developed organically for the most part.

Dividing the Work

By recognizing our own, and each other’s, strengths and weaknesses, by leaving our egos at the door, we strive to make each other’s writing better, to produce the very best piece we can. Marcy is a I-need-an-outline-for-every-paragraph-planner. Lisa is a who-needs-a-plan-what-fun-is-that-pantser.

Marcy acknowledges that sometimes deviating from the plan makes a piece better, and Lisa admits that planning does save time. There’s an underpinning of respect and grace to each work in our own way. So Marcy plans, and Lisa tries to stick to the plan-mostly. And we both admit when something is, or isn’t working. We’ve never once argued because we both immediately recognize who is right. There’s no gloating or I-told-you-so’s. It can’t work as a competition.

Editing What’s Been Written

The tension in a co-writing relationship isn’t so much in the exciting brainstorming and pitching stage, as in the slow-moving editing stage.

We divide up the work according to the outline. We ruthlessly self-edit, and then turn to the other one to make it even better. Not once has either of us read the other’s first draft and said, “Good to go.” We always have suggestions to make it better. And we like it like that.

But at the end of the day, the sections that Marcy has written, she has final say over, and the same with the sections that Lisa has written. We don’t quibble over word choices very often, because those are subjective choices. We may make a suggestions based on a subjective opinion, but we leave it to the author to make the change or not. There’s never been an argument because we give each other that mutual respect.

Neither do we willy nilly start editing each other’s work. We may add a sentence here or there, but for the most part, we point out the piece’s weakness and leave it to the other to fix it. If they decide to leave it, it stays. End of discussion. Because we trust the other’s abilities, this has never been a problem. There are paragraphs that we have both written that the other one would have written differently – but why co-write if everything has to be written the way you want it?

How disheartening would it be to write something, and forever have the other person change and tweak it without your consent? After a while you’d begin to wonder why you bothered, right? Not many writers are going to stick around in that kind of a situation very long.

Last Minute Details

This is all great if you have the time to bounce things back and forth, right? And it has come up that an editor wants something same day and one of us isn’t available. Because Marcy is a planner, this doesn’t happen very often to us. Because Lisa is a pantser, unexpected things get dealt with in a timely fashion. It’s all good. But if you know this could be a stress point in your co-writing partnership, discuss what the process will be before the situation comes up.

Dealing with Editors

When it comes to corresponding with editors, writing pitches and communicating changes, we divide it up in two ways. Often, whoever came up with the article idea is the one to pitch it, unless one of us already has a relationship with that editor. Regardless, whoever pitches the article maintains all correspondence with the editor. This way the work is evenly divided, the burden of querying, communicating, and submitting doesn’t always fall on one person, and one of us is prepared to have the final say over the finished piece.

Do you have a writing partner? How do you divide up the work?

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

Choosing A Writing Partner

American mothers and sisters, like these women at the Douglas Aircraft Company, give important help in producing dependable planes for their men at the front, Long Beach, Calif. Most important of the many types of aircraft made at this plant are the B-17Fphoto © 1939 The Library of Congress | more info (via: Wylio)

The old saying “two is better than one” is true in many situations, including writing.

Co-writing is a great way to widen your network of contacts, increase motivation, promote accountability, and bolster your writing weaknesses all at once. We’ve been able to enjoy all of these benefits since we began writing together regularly. Whether you’re considering co-writing because your credentials are stronger together than separately, or because you want a break from this otherwise solitary business, here’s how to get started and what to avoid.

Your co-written work will only be as good as the relationship that backs it. While requesting that all potential partners submit a resume and published clips might be taking it a touch too far, your reputation (along with a lot of precious hours) will be tied up with this person once you start writing together. So what important factors do you need to consider before making a commitment?

Look for someone whose abilities you respect. Mentorship has its place, but not in a co-writing relationship. Just like in a marriage, you want to partner with someone you respect, trust, and see as your equal. There’s no room for co-dependencies. You want someone who pushes you to get better. With a deadline in red ink on your calendar, you don’t want to have to teach someone the basics of writing. And, as we already mentioned, your professional reputation is on the line. If you miss your deadline, it reflects poorly on both of you. On top of that, your name will be attached to your joint effort when it goes to print.

Look for someone with similar likes.

How long would any friendship last if you had nothing in common? What would you talk about? What would you do together? In a co-writing relationship, the same applies. If your partner prefers to write marriage and parenting articles, but you want to write about hot button topics like AIDS and prescription drug abuse, you’re probably not a good fit. This is where the marriage analogy breaks down. Co-writing isn’t like a marriage where compromising on your interests is good, and you can daydream about shopping while at the hockey game with your husband. Your whole heart has to be in every piece you write. If you’re not both equally excited, one of you will end up doing most of the work and feel taken advantage of while the other grows resentful at being “forced” to write about a topic they’re uncomfortable with.

While we share many writing interests in common, we also have many that we don’t share, but they’re differences in background and experience that make us stronger when we write together. Lisa does a lot of contract writing for non-profits. Marcy does a lot of SEO writing. We can each bring the skills we’ve learned from those different disciplines to the table when we co-write, but never have we tried to coerce the other into writing about the things we individually specialize in.

Long-term goalsLife goalsphoto © 2010 o5com | more info (via: Wylio)

Choose someone who also shares your long-term goals. Are you happy working for non-paying markets because you’re writing as a hobby, while your potential partner needs the money from a paying market to make ends meet? Do you eventually want to give up article writing to move into writing novels independently, while the other person is looking for a career-long partnership? You might not think so at first, but these will breed conflict the same way it does in a marriage when one spouse wants children and the other doesn’t.

Finally, you want someone you can have fun with and who you genuinely like. If you think the same things are funny, and are able to accept each other’s quirks and differences, you’ve probably found someone you could work with. While we’re called to show the love of Christ to everyone, we’re not called to have an identical relationship with everyone. You’re going to get along with some people better than others, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Choose someone that you want to spend time with.Big Funphoto © 2008 Ernst Moeksis | more info (via: Wylio)

Do you have any other advice about choosing a co-writing partner?

Marcy & Lisa

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

Surviving a Critique

I have a love-hate relationship with critiques. I recognize they’re important, yet it hurts to hear my work isn’t perfect, and it’s even tougher to tell someone else what’s wrong with their work. Add to that the danger that things turn nasty or devolve into back-patting and they can end up being a waste of your time and money. So why bother?

A helpful critique can point out things you’ve missed, teach you a new technique, or make the difference between publication and a rejection. Despite the difficulties, every writer should join a critique group, find a critique partner, or have a manuscript critique done by a professional.

The trick to successfully critiquing or being critiqued is to follow a few guidelines.

Be Specific

An effective critique is detailed and offers solutions to any major problems you find.

It’s not going to help your fellow writer to tell them “something” is wrong with their scene. That’s too general to be useful. If they’ve been writing for any length of time, chances are they already know something’s off. Even telling them there’s not enough conflict is too vague. A good critique will give concrete suggestions for how to fix what’s wrong.

Think about it this way: Would you want your doctor to tell you that you have an infection and send you home to figure out how to treat it yourself? Or would you want him to tell you what to do to cure it?

Don’t Re-Write

Unless you’re co-authoring a work, your job is to tell them how to fix something and then let them do it. If you change it for them, you risk destroying their voice. You’re also not giving them the chance to learn by doing.

In addition, don’t change something just because you would have written it differently. This is their manuscript, not yours. Their unique voice is part of what it will take to eventually sell what they’ve written.

The caveat to this is that, if you’re providing an edit as part of your critique, you can (and should) correct punctuation, grammar, and formatting mistakes. You can also take out extraneous adverbs and adjectives, and suggest a stronger noun or verb to replace them.

It’s a fine line to walk, but the more critiques you do, the easier finding the balance becomes.

Critique the Writing, Not the Writer

Every writer needs to remember this isn’t personal. A critique of your work is not a criticism of you. Every critiquer needs to be careful that it stays an objective critique of the writing.

Here are some of the major phrases to avoid:

Why would you write it that way? While your intentions might be good, this is going to come across as questioning their intelligence.

Everyone knows that . . . A new writer may not know, and you’re going to come off as a pompous jerk for telling them that everyone knows you should do this or shouldn’t do that. Just tell them what the problem is and how to fix it.

I pointed this out last time. You may have to point out the same thing twenty times before they figure it out. Don’t demean them by mentioning that you’ve told them this before. Whether they take your advice or not is up to them. And they may not have taken your suggestion because you may be wrong. Be humble enough to allow for that possibility.

Focus on What You Know

If you’re a new writer, focus on your strengths. For example, if you’ve been told numerous times that you have a knack for realistic-sounding dialogue, focus on the dialogue.

If you don’t know what you’re good at, look at the big picture. Do you see any plot holes? Do the characters seem to be acting consistently? Do you spot a better first line buried in the second paragraph?

Be Honest

Friends don’t let friends write bad fiction (or bad non-fiction). You’re not doing them any favors by sugar-coating things because you’re afraid of hurting their feelings. Be gentle and diplomatic, but please be honest. Otherwise you’re wasting their time and yours.

Don’t Argue

It doesn’t matter what side of the critique you’re on: don’t argue, don’t defend, don’t apologize.

If you’re the critiquer, give your critique and then let them take your advice or not. Explain if they ask for more details, but if they tell you your critique is a bunch of hooey, be the bigger person and don’t react.

If you’re the one receiving the critique, accept it with grace. Thank them. Then give yourself the distance of a couple of days to decide if what they’ve said has merit. They might be wrong. But once the sting wears off, you might see they were right after all. You’re going to feel like a buffoon if you lost your cool only to realize later they were right.

Put It In Writing

There are two reasons for providing a written critique along with an oral critique. First, it’s easier to be more honest in writing than in person. Second, the person receiving the critique isn’t likely to take in and remember everything you say. A written copy will help them when they get home and want to make those changes.

We’re here to help. Be sure to let us know if there’s a fiction or non-fiction topic you want us to write a post about.

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

Marcy

Let Criticism Make You Better

When Lisa and I began plotting to launch this blog, we considered the name “The Thick-Skinned Writer.” To us, it summed up what it takes to survive as a freelancer or an author. You’re going to face bad reviews, rejections from editors, constructive criticism from peers, and censure from friends and family who don’t understand your job. And, as Lisa wrote in a previous blog, you have to take it like a man (even if you’re a woman).

Once you do that, you can actually use criticism to help make you a better writer (and, dare I say it, a more patient person).

Take a Deep Breath and Walk Away

You’re not objective immediately after receiving criticism. They’ve attacked your abilities. They’ve attacked your “baby.” What do they know anyway? They don’t get what you’re trying to do.

The person who pointed out a weakness in your work hurt your feelings. You might have thought you wanted them to point out your flaws and tell you how to improve, but secretly you wanted them to tell you how great your work already was. We try to protect ourselves by refusing to accept that there’s any merit in what they’ve said.

Even after all the time we’ve been critiquing each other’s work and writing together, Lisa and I still have that initial reaction of I liked it better the way it was. We expect the other one to tear our work apart, deconstruct it if need be. We want them to because we’ve learned from experience how much better our writing is for it. And yet, we still balk. We can’t help it. We’re human. What we’ve learned is to stop and set it aside before responding. Usually, when we come back afterward, we find that the criticism had merit.

You need time and distance to gain objectivity. The longer you work at it, the thicker your skin will grow and the quicker you’ll be able to transition from criticism to improvement.

Separate Helpful Advice from Harmful Advice

Part of using criticism to improve is knowing which criticism is helpful and which is harmful.

Harmful Type #1: The Irate Reader

This person read what you wrote, and they’re so offended by it that they had to write a long, scathing letter to the editor (or you) outlining everything that they feel you said and did wrong. They’ll pick on your facts. They’ll pick on your objectivity. They’ll pick on your character. (I once received feedback on an article suggesting that I’d lost the ability to discern right from wrong.) Ignore them. You can’t please everyone. Not to mention, for every irate reader, there’s probably another reader who agreed with everything you said.

Harmful Type #2:  The Novice

I’m about to burst a bubble. Please don’t hate me for it. Excellent writing isn’t about talent. Yes, some people have more talent than others and they improve more quickly, but the best writing comes from people who put in the hard work necessary to learn and practice their craft. Even Lisa the rule breaker (you know I love you too, Lee) will tell you that there are some writing rules you shouldn’t break. If you want to write well, you need to follow them. End of story, turn off the TV, go to bed.

The point of that rant is this: Take any advice you get from a novice with a grain of salt. Their criticism might have merit, but it might not because sometimes they just don’t have enough experience. Here’s my word of warning about writer’s groups. They can be immensely helpful, but they need to include writers at all stages of their career and levels of experience. Otherwise, it’s like a bunch of infants trying to teach each other to talk.

Most importantly, reject all criticism you get from a perpetual novice. This is the person who’s been at it for years, isn’t making any progress, and doesn’t accept advice from industry professionals. They know they’re right and unwilling to consider they might be wrong. In my opinion, if you want the right to dish it out, you have to first be willing to take it.

So what counts as helpful criticism?

  • An editor gives you input on an article or asks you to change something. They’re a professional and they want their magazine to be the best.
  • A paid manuscript critique from a writer with a track record, an agent, or an editor. You can get these at a writer’s conference (like Write! Canada). Some seasoned writers will also do these upon request.
  • Writing contests where you get feedback on your entry.
  • A writing/critique partner whose work you respect.
  • A well-balanced writer’s group.
  • A legitimate writing program (either online or at a local college or university).
  • A writing mentor (someone with more years in the trenches than you).

Be Humble Enough to Keep Learning

The world doesn’t contain a perfect writer. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Be humble enough to keep learning. The moment a best-selling author gets complacent and stops pushing the limits is the moment their work becomes cookie cutter and they start to fall in popularity. The good news is that when they do, it opens the door for a writer who’s willing to work and improve to take their place. It could be you.

Anything you’d like to add? Leave us a comment.

Marcy

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.