Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Real Men Read Romance

Most of us have critique partners and trusted first readers that we depend on to tell us what sucks and what works in our fiction. I am so lucky to have a wonderfully brutal group of people who believe enough in me to donate chunks of their time to help me improve my writing.

And they’re all men.

Morgan and my little brother Jon get the first pass – Jon (Who is going to kill me for posting his goofy devil horns picture. I couldn't help myself!) is my logic man. He can spot a plot hole from a million miles away. Morgan focuses on grammar and clarity. He also always seems to find the threads and story elements that I managed to hide from myself during the drafting process.

My crit group, Smyrna Writers, gets the next draft. Mark and Bob are the group’s core and their insights are invaluable. They’re objective and honest, yet know me and my work well enough to comfortably be able to tell me when I’m being an idiot and when I’ve hit the bullseye.

My friend Al gets the “I think it’s almost done” draft. He’s like a fiction barometer. If I don’t make him laugh, I didn’t do my job.

All of them provide a much needed peek into the male mind and heart that, I hope, makes my heroes much more realistic.

This didn’t really register with me until the subject came up during a message board conversation with Anitra and some of the other TM’s and it made me wonder how many other romance writers have the luxury of feedback from a male perspective. And as wonderful as my guys are, it also made me worry that I don’t get enough female insight.

What do you guys think? Do any of you have male crit partners? Would you if you had the opportunity? Does gender really matter when critiquing romantic fiction?


Lexie O'Neill said...

So sorry to all that I've virtually disappeared (exam week)! I don't have a critique partner--have tried several times--and either they or I turned out to be too busy. There's also the fact that the last one and I just wrote so differently we couldn't help each other.
Your arrangement sounds wonderful! I think male or female, someone you can rely on sounds great.

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

I'm very blessed in that both male and female family members and friends are willing to read my work. Well, they are a lot more willing when there is pizza and beer involved! :)

I think my logic man would be my brother. He has a knack for finding little glitchy things that I never notice. My dad would be the sci-fi/fantasy know-it-all (and I mean that in a good way) since he can spot things that have been done to death and offer twist ideas. My sister is the romantic who can help me beef up the sweetness factor or help me scale it back if it's too much. Before my mom died, she was my faithful cheerleader--she loved everything I did. :) My BFF has all of things mixed together so she generally gets to see it after everyone else.

And my dog is my cuddle baby when things go wrong. One sloppy kiss from her seems to make everything better!

Mel Hiers said...

Hey, Lexie! Welcome back! Hope you're surviving exams. It seems like finding a crit partner within the writing community would be hard. Like finding a husband. Or an agent. :-P

Hey, Anitra! I finally used the idea. :-D Sounds like you've got a great team there. Your mom sounds a lot like mine. She's a great cheerleader, so I only give her the best drafts. It's weird, but the contest sort of forced me to "come out" as a writer to the rest of my family and I'm getting all sorts of feedback on VotB because Mom's passing the manuscript around. I think the funniest one was from my gramma who said she liked it because there wasn't any sex. (Anna and Dave's romance follows a three book story arc, so she probably won't be seeing the next two. :-)

Savanna Kougar said...

Mel, you are one lucky girl...er...woman! Wish I did have a good crit partner. But I'm on my lonesome. I'd luv the viewpoint of both a another and a man because sometimes it is difficult to get the right balances sorted out.
Sorry I didn't comment earler. My phone line cable got cut, so I've been incognito and not very happy about it.

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

LOL Mel on her not seeing the next two installments! Most of my historicals are sweet, my futuristics are sensual, but my fantasy work is very erotic. I am sensitive to each person's comfort level of hotness. :)

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Mel, lucky to have good cps in the family. My husband is always keen to read my work, but he gets it when it's polished. He does pick out the odd spelling mistake!