In getting started with our "Edit with Love" series, let’s start the way we should ALWAYS start when reading someone’s work: FIND THE BEST PARTS, NO MATTER HOW SMALL.
This simple action is one that gets overlooked a lot, with reviewers quickly moving on to what needs to be fixed. Sure, it saves time to get to the point, but part of refilling the creative well is by knowing what is working, even if everything else is a work-in-progress. Compliment what the writer is doing well, no matter how minor it may seem. Emphasizing the good opens us up to hearing about the bad. After all, most of us know we have strengths and weaknesses – sometimes we need to be reminded of what our strengths are so we can draw on them when we are feeling down about our abilities.
Here are some complimentary areas I’ve seen in recent work:
· “I really liked the way your character handled this situation.”
· “This is such a creative way to show the world to the reader!”
· “Your dialogue is really authentic and I can tell who is speaking through dialogue alone.”
· “I could really feel what the character is feeling here.”
· “Good sensory details, the smell of the air.”
· “I like your use of metaphor in this chapter.”
These sound trite perhaps, but tailored to the work, it makes all the difference. Don’t be afraid to use smiley faces to further translate your pleasure with certain passages or techniques. I always finish up with a note at the bottom telling the writer to keep going, to keep writing, and to keep coming back. We all need a reminder that no matter how it might sting, we can choose to keep moving forward and hone our skills.
Remember, when someone asks you to read their work in progress, it is an honor and a great act of trust. Don't abuse it!
Next week we’ll look at “Using Artistic Language” and don’t forget, KEEP WRITING!