Developing Rhino Skin, Part 1

Some Writers Deserve to Starve! by Elaura Niles

Developing rhino skin is part of the process of becoming a writer.  Critique groups can challenge writers’ rhino skin.  Here are some tips:

The Etiquette of Giving Critique:

  • Never attack.  If someone is writing a manifesto, your job is to aid them in making it the best manifesto ever written, no matter how much it creeps you out.  If you have issues with religion, profanity, race, or nonvegetarians, keep them to yourself.  It’s about the writing, not you.
  • Don’t argue.  It’s pointless.  This is not a debate.  If you want others to consider your points at length, write them down and drop it.  It’s not your book.
  • Never rewrite another member’s work.  It takes away from your experience.  It taints their work with your voice.
  • Never interrupt another member’s critique.  Got an urge to butt in?  Button it, bit your lip, seal your mouth shut with masking tape.  Interrupting is disrespectful, so wait your turn.  If your turn has passed, make a note and talk with the author later.  Privately.
  • Write down your critique.  A suggestion for a story twist may throw the author at the moment, but upon reflection, and reading your note later, it may be a useful tool.
  • Always be constructive.  “You’re really talented, but I think it needs a ‘page-one rewrite'” doesn’t help anyone.  Be specific.  Show them you have read their work.  Praise when praise is deserved, but never degrade another’s work.  Suggest stronger plotlines, better verbs, and clearer sentences at appropriate times.
  • Keep it brief.  Make your point.  Quickly.  Then move on.

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