Category Archives: Friends

Don’t Take Critiques at Face Value

Don’t Take Critiques at Face Value

After NaNoWriMo, there will be a lot of novel exchanges. So I just wanted to point out a few things I’ve learned about critiques over the years of receiving and giving them. I’ve also observed some really upset writers, and I’ve attended writer groups who only allow positive feedback … which to me, is useless.

Besides these famous quotes,

“The first draft of anything is shit.” ― Ernest Hemingway
“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” ― William Faulkner
“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” ― Neil Gaiman

I’m sure you’ve heard that you have to develop a thick skin. So what does it mean to have thick skin? For me, I have to remind myself not take the critique at face value nor take them personally. Bad critiques are not the ones that come back with lots of notes; the bad ones are the empty ones that say everything was perfect … because it’s not. (See Hemingway & Faulkner quotes) There’s always something that can be improved.

You want your novel/chapter to come back completely marked up. And the first reaction to getting copy back that looks like someone rewrote your story, is probably going to be either, “I should have caught this; I’m a horrible writer.” or “They don’t know what the hell they are talking about.” Most likely, one of those thoughts, or something similar, will go through your head. Let it. It’s normal, but you have to get over it if you’re going to make your story the best it can be.

After you’ve read over the critique and are finished cursing, think about any notes as a whole. Mull them over. Do you agree with them? If yes, awesome. Do the necessary tweaks. If No, whatever you do, don’t automatically disregard them. If something takes the reader out of the story, makes them stop reading to write a note, something is wrong. (See Gaiman quote) Maybe the comments will give you ideas for a new direction or fill in a gap somewhere else.

On one occasion, I didn’t agree with what a writer friend said about my character’s career choice. After thinking it over, I decided that my friend’s opinion would work great as the character’s father’s opinion on the same subject. This set in motion a lot of other changes too.

Furthermore, If you don’t know why a critiquer/editor changed something, (even something as small as a comma) asked them why they changed it, or look it up. Learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them. And guess what? Sometimes even the grammar pros make mistakes. So it is really important that you take control of your story.

But you know what? This is your story, so you can choose not to change anything suggested, and you should look at critiques as such … suggestions. Suggestions you will take into consideration. And as you ponder, also consider that not everyone enjoys reading the same genre, and not everyone knows your style. (I’m guilty of choosing to use incomplete sentences, and I like starting my sentences with conjunctions – these things always get marks. *shrugs*)

Also, remember to thank your critiquer, no matter how crazy you think they are. You asked for the critique, and they used their time (the more marked up the copy the more time they took) to do you a favor.  And if they are a writer, you can get always get them back when it’s your turn to critique. Mwah ha ha!

Love and Laughter,


It’s not always about you, Princess

Hi Friends,

So today I thought I would tell you about other people’s work. BTW – The title of the post was overheard in conversation and is now part of my work-in-progress. I think it’s hilarious. (It is true that what you say around me might end up in a book – or on my blog lol) : Handcrafted pens and gifts – Can you believe that I’m a writer who is actually married to a pen maker! That’s right, my husband, Don Vann turns pens using exotic woods and custom acrylics and lot of other material.  One of my writer friends had a custom pen made to match her book colors. Don also used logos, names, etc. to personalize pens. Christmas is coming up and these pens make wonderful one-of-a-kind gifts. Sinfully Delicious Wick’d Potion Perfumes and Perfume Jewelry – Wick’d JFay of Studio3b is ready for Halloween. Stop by her online store, if you dare, and visit the Bloody Bordello of Vampire Perfumes, the Dark Fairy-Tale Line, and the Haunted GothicPage. Attention authors: she also creates custom blends to match your projects. BTW – Wick’d JFay is my sister.

UnHappily Ever After : Tales with a twist – writer Tammy Kane emailed me the other day about her photo/storybook, “Unhappily Ever After”, which she is publishing soon. You know me, I really appreciate unique and creative spins on fairy tales. You can stop by and “like” her page to keep up to date on this project.

Okay, so that is all I have for today that is not about me. I would love to make this a monthly post about creative people. If you would like for me to mention you and/or your project on one of my “It’s not always about you, Princess,” post, email: dorlanasfairytales at

Love and Laughter,


Reconstructing Grimm presents Sherlock Holmes

Production team; from left to right:
Production Manager: Amanda Hull
Co-Director: Tom Marks
Writer/Director: Liz Shipe

The very talented and creative team, Reconstructing Grimm (They are responsible for the awesome cover of Supernatural Fairy Tales) has a new project:  “Sherlock Holmes and a Most Irregular Tea Party” is an interactive show in collaboration with Milwaukee Entertainment Group, written by Liz Shipe.

The location itself, The Historic Brumder Mansion in Milwaukee, WI., is so primed for the world of 221 b. Baker St. the audience will feel completely immersed into the Victorian era.

A fun and unique aspect of the show is that it will be documented online from auditions to opening night on Reconstructing Grimm’s blog.

Here are the details:

Main Cast; from left to right
Dr. John Watson: Max Hultquist
Inspector Lestrade: Bryan Quinn
Sherlock Holmes: Michael Traynor

“Sherlock Holmes and a Most Irregular Tea Party”
[ a Murder Mystery Event ]

September 21st, 22nd, 28th, 29th at 6:30pm
October 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th at 6:30pm
Sunday October 14th at 1:30pm
Join the Baker Street Irregulars at the home of Sherlock Holmes for an action-packed party hosted by Mrs. Hudson, and help Sherlock and Watson solve the unexpected mysteries of the evening and keep the streets of London Safe!

Images © copyright Reconstructing Grimm


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