Mar 23, 2010

It’s Okay—not everyone will like it

Sun_Rays_by_Hamrani When I wrote my Middle Grade PG Love Scene Blogfest post, I had an idea in my head. First off, I though, “when have I ever read a love scene in a middle grade book? Oh, that’s right. Never.” Would Judy Blume have her MC fall victim to uncontrollable lust and go bang her best friend’s brother? I should hope not—otherwise, Ms Blume would not be writing for kids 8-12, and I would have a few more of her babies on my bookshelves. So I tweaked the prompt a little—and came out with my entry. Overall, I was pretty happy with it. It was a little-kid-love-scene, and it suited me just fine.
Before I go any further, I’d like to tip my hat to those of you who write MG. In a way, it’s very simple—kids don’t read complex sentences, so when you write it, the simpler, the better. Emotions are raw and character behavior is almost animalistic. But for someone who usually writes for adults…wow. It sure ain’t easy to switch writing styles.
For my entry, I took a fairly common scenario, and put my story to it (in a format fit for ages 8-12, of course).  When I had finished, I asked J to read it over and tell me what he thought.
One paragraph later, J looks up and says “I don’t like it. It’s choppy…simplistic. Elementary. Nothing like your usual stuff.”
And I proceeded to panic. No lie; my first thought was I’m losing it! But then, in a rare moment of clarity, I realized that *ding ding ding* it’s okay. I’m writing a completely different genre than what I usually do. Of course it’s going to be different. And I’m writing for kids, so duh it’s going to be “elementary”.
So, is it a good thing that J didn’t like it? Considering he’s not a 10 year old girl, hell yeah it’s a good thing. He likes my adult, paranormal stuff, and this may be a stretch, but I consider it a success that my eleven year old protagonist didn’t resemble my two hundred year old vampire warrior that stars in Nightlings. Hurray! I think I can count the MG/PG Love Scene Blogfest as a successful writing exercise, because that’s what blogfests are—interactive, writing exercises.
It’s not easy for us writers to remember that not everyone is going to love our babies like we do. In fact, it’s even harder for us to appreciate that fact. How do you take your criticism? What do you do to keep from letting it get you down?


  1. We as writers are ALWAYS our own worst (most strict) critic. We're the hardest on ourselves and nit-pick so much at our own work. And we can be terribly sensitive of other people's views on our babies! You have to remember that take each critique in stride and they are not always right, but sometimes we have to listen, and sometimes we have to ignore!

  2. I first remember that not everyones taste is the same as mine...or the ones I write for. Then I also accept the fact that not everything I put on paper works. There will be some failures, as in any creative endeavor, but it doesn't necessarly reflect upon everything I do. Hit some...miss some. :)

  3. I think it just took practice for me--the whole "learning to understand that not everyone's into what I write" concept. Because, clearly, I LOVE the genre I write in! But that's what you have to remember... YOUR love for what you write =)

    As for criticism, I LOVE it. (When it comes from people who understand my genre and know what they're talking about!)

  4. Having just had to adjust my style slightly for a ghostwriting project, I agree that switching can be one of the hardest things to do.

  5. It's tough - we want everyone to like our writing. Knowing that's not reality makes it even tougher to put our stuff out there for others to read!

  6. I tip my hat to you (and everyone else) for participating in that blogfest-- I was so at a loss I skipped it because I had no idea how to BEGIN to write MG.

    When it comes to criticism, I just try to trust my gut.

  7. as long as it works for you... its a winner...
    I just try to add what it makes me feel... i don;t judge it..

  8. I decide if there is any merit to the negativity. Then, I focus on the comments that were positive. :-)

  9. If you haven't read "Forever" by Judy Blume, you should. It was my go-to "OMG SEX!" book when I was about 12. You know, before we had these here fancy interwebz.

  10. I'd like to think that I take critisisim well, depending on what's going on. And my PG scene wasn't MG it was YA, a little mix up is all. And I adored your scene, for the genre it was written in, not my normal reading style but it fit the genre well I thought. And I always do have to remind myself that not everyone is going to love my writing like I do. But that's life.

  11. Criticism is a little like sex - the first time it kinda hurts, but it gets better. I'll never forget my "first time"; when a manuscript evaluation service gave me feedback that ripped my baby apart. I was angry, I was humiliated. I cried into my beer. Then I fixed it. Nothing quite compares to that first time, and thank goodness, it gets easier and easier - now I almost like it!


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