A pet peeve of mine has made an unwelcome visit this past week. That of aspiring authors telling aspiring authors how they should write. This is the stupidest thing I've heard of. Why don't you ask a blind man to teach you how to drive? It's about the same thing. It's just when you actually crash, it can be a lot more painful for the writer because they don't know why they hit a tree. At least in a car, you can see the deer that cut you off.
And it's not as if we can deny this is happening either. Look at all the crit groups for romance writers. Look at all the aspiring writer blogs who put up a snippet and then try to edit the work. It's so sad in so many ways. These authors are getting very little real education but when things go wrong (ie the rejection letters start banging at their front door) they have their cheerleaders in place. It's cruel, in my opinion, to have the people who helped drive them into a tree giving the standard, "the agent didn't know what the hell they were talking about" or "It's such a good story".
Why is it so sad? Because the cheerleaders don't know better themselves.
I'm not a know-it-all by any shade of the word, but I know someone who is. When you talk to my Mom, you might as well be talking to a walking, talking dictionary on writing. Yep, I got lucky. She had my back when I waded into the adult pool. Though, at times it was very painful for me to hear what I was doing wrong, I recognized the one thing she was doing – she was telling me exactly what I had to fix and how to do it.
What can an aspiring writer do about it? Not much at this time. There are things you can recognize (and this comes directly from my Mom's playbook on making an aspiring author an author) –
1. Know your specific problems when it comes to writing.
2. Don't take it personally when someone actually does point out what is wrong with your story.
3. Find someone who will help you fix the problem. Look specifically for consistent comments – these are normally what hurts the story.
4. Sit down, shut up and listen instead of going "she doesn't like my story" or "she doesn't see my vision".
Mom told me from the get-go that I was gonna get beat up. Whether it was from her or an editor, I should always look at what someone was pointing out and understand I need to learn how to fix it.
So, what's your take on this? Has it become a real problem for aspiring authors to crit/edit other aspiring authors work or do they really help?