Friday, February 19, 2010

Are You A Special Snowflake?

Last week I was reading this particular blog by Angela James and I snorted my coffee through my nose. It was this line that did it to me:

The critique partner who thinks every word you write is a special snowflake may not be the one for you, as they’re not helping you learn. Seek out places and people that will help you learn.

I LOVE that line! Special snowflake! I wish I'd come up with it.

I immediately sent this link to my critique partners. The response back: We all know you're not a special snowflake! Geez, Heather. It would be nice if you had a little bit of snowflake in you.


I admit, I'm a tough critiquer. I try to be respectful (I think I succeed) and honest (I'm certainly that). The thing is, I feel that if you're asking for my opinion that you want my opinion.

The sad truth is: There are very few writers who want to hear what they can fix. They think their work is perfect to start with. If you have anything constructive to say, they break down in tears like you murdered their dog.

I'm not an insensitive person. Do you realize how this makes me feel to know that I've hurt you? Like crap, that's what.

Every single time I critique for someone outside of my critique circle I agonize over what I'm going to say. They have no idea what a critique from me is going to be like, even though I give them fair warning before I start. Nine times out of ten it ends badly. And I lick my wounds and swear up and down to whoever will listen that I will NEVER, EVER critique for someone again.

And then I do.

Why would I put myself through the torture? Because every once in a while I meet someone I click with. Who can take my comments in the manner they're intended and use them to figure out how to improve their writing. And in turn, I end up with someone who's willing to be honest with me and whose opinion I value.

Finding a click is a funny thing. I wish it happened more often. It doesn't, but I'm grateful for when it works.

If you're looking for a Special Snowflake, that person is not me. Consider yourself warned.


  1. A Special Snowflake! That is awesome! I think being a tough critiquer is a good thing. I cringe when I get something back that says everything looks good. I KNOW it doesn't. "That's not helping!" I want to scream. But I don't.

    You are a rare breed.

  2. I don't think someone is a wet noodle (or in this case a special snowflake) if they don't click with a "harsher" crit method.

    I welcome crit, I have people that rip my book apart and I can take it from them just fine. But then there are others—who do the exact same thing—and yet it doesn't gel.

    I have no clue why.

    Like you said, finding people you click with is hard, but it's worth it when you do. There are many styles of crit that get positive results.

  3. I agree with you, Natalie.

    I wasn't trying to be mean when I made the special snowflake reference. I agree that if someone can't take a harsher critique, that's fine. That's their thing, not mine.

    I was just making the point that I'm well aware how I critique and that I'm uber happy when it does work out.

    I should also add: this post was not made in reference to anyone. Rather, I was extremely happy that I am clicking with someone new. And I wanted to express my joy with that.


  4. I also want to add real quick:

    I don't consider myself to be a harsh critiquer. I really don't. At no time do I ever purposely try to sound harsh. I think I'm truthful and blunt. Those two things don't equal harsh to me.

    A harsh or easy crit doesn't change my point, though. There are many writers who want to hear, "You are perfect." And I've never said that. Not once.

  5. Funny!
    I do agree that you need to be truthful to critique someone's manuscript, otherwise why bother. But I do think you can be diplomatic and say positives along with the fixes, too. A few special snowflakes along with the muddy slush :)

  6. I LOVE the way you critique, Heather. You've been a godsend!

  7. I would LOVE to have you critique some of my stuff! I NEED the brutally honest. I need that ripping apart of the insides. LOL

    I agree ... no special snowflakes are helpful. LOL

  8. Kristi - You have NO idea what you're asking for. ;)

    You can send me the first chapter, if you'd like. I'll take a look at it and see if it's something I'd like to beta.

    My email is in the sidebar. I'll let you know I received it if you decide to send it.



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