22 February 2012

Lego My Manuscript!

This is my 100th post. Is it bad that I didn't think I'd be blogging this long? Ha!

Instead of What's New? Wednesday, I have a writing analogy for you.

My children love playing with Legos. They dump our thousands of Legos into a pile on the floor and build houses, skyscrapers, boats—anything and everything they can dream up. Once playtime is over (and there's no safe place to walk in our house) my kids refuse to disassemble their creations. They simply can't bear to see them taken apart. So we usually preserve them, setting them aside to be admired. Then later, when no one is looking, I tear the creations down and put the pieces away.

When I work hard on a chapter, several chapters, or even an entire manuscript, it's difficult to see my brainchild ripped to pieces. Editing and revising feels freaking awesome upon completion, but when I'm still in the glowy "Look what I made, Mom!" stage, I don't want my work to be disassembled.

This is why a critique partner is important. I hand him my WiP and he tears it down chapter by chapter when I'm not looking. He is able to do what I won't or CAN'T do, which is objectively analyze my writing.

If you can't bear to subject your WiP to scrutiny, remember critiques should ultimately strengthen your story. And unlike my children's Lego creations, your handiwork will survive the process. I promise.

57 comments:

  1. Yes, I think it's a similar feeling! There's a fear there, like if you pluck at one thread, the whole thing will come unraveled, and you won't be able to stitch it back together. But you're right! It's so necessary, and we need others to help us because there's no way we can independently see the flaws. Great post!

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  2. love the analogy! It's so true, our stories need critique partners to be the best they can be.

    my kids can't bear to have their creations taken apart either, and I too do it when they are sleeping, so funny!

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  3. You are so right. The phrase, "Kill your darlings" can trouble me for a while when it comes to revising. I get it, I understand the need for it, I just sometimes plain ol' don't want to do it!

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  4. I think I'm more of a smasher, of Lego and my work! I know what you mean though - in my case, critiques help me see the bits I don't need to take down, whereas my instinct is to just smash it all if one part isn't working.

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  5. Well said. I have stepped on many a lego in my house. The analogy is great. Thanks!

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  6. Wonderful analogy - and so true. Critique partners make this solitary journey collaborative.

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  7. I agree. There are often times parts in my MS that I know, deep down, should be removed or drastically changed. But then I think, 'Okay, if my CP says it needs to be, then I will. If they don't say anything they must like it and I don't need to change it.'

    Inevitably, nine times out of ten, they say the exact thing I'm thinking. 'Change this!' haha :)

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  8. Critique partners are worth their weight in gold.

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  9. This is a super analogy, Emily, and very true.

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  10. I love it! And for just that reason sometimes I've thought it would be easier to write the draft, then have my CP actually do all the revisions. Then she doesn't think, "Well, I have to keep that line in because my mom loves it!" or "I have to keep that character because he's named after my third-grade teacher!"

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  11. Good post, Emily! It's like we have to "destroy" one creation in order to build a bigger and/or better one.

    I am way too old for Legos but I still love them. :)

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  12. Thank goodness for critique partners! I've learned to love critiques (though that took a while!).

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  13. My crit partners are the BEST! They look at my stories and tell me that maybe my Lego castle doesn't need wings, a tower would be better. They are always right...how did I not see it?

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  14. It's so important to be able to let your project be ripped apart, eventually it will make it stronger, but it still hurts.

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  15. Such a great analogy. I've definitely learned that people have to read my work when I'm not looking because it just makes me way too nervous and self-conscious!

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  16. giggle. I thought this post was going to be about agents and publishers who take forever to 'think about it'. Nothing worse than having it tied up in a maybe.

    My kids hate it when I dissemble their lego creations. Great analogy.

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  17. Nice analogy!! My kids are usually the ones that tear theirs apart. And then I step on them and say not so nice words.

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  18. Exactly! I'm picturing some of the creations my kids make and sort of cringing that my ms could be so raw ;) It's all in the eyes of the beholder right? Thank goodness for cps!!

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  19. Kyra, I have wise children. : )

    Jaye, yes they do!

    Richard, I agree.

    Caryn, the voices in our head get in the way, don't they?

    Madeline, destroy and rebuild!

    Hope, ha! That's so true. What we're so proud of could actually be junk.

    David, I cater to my audience. :D

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  20. What a great analogy. I hated stepping on those things when my son was little. Have you been to Downtown Disney (Orlando) to that Lego shop? It's very cool.

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  21. Great post, Emily! And so true. Hope you're feeling well these days, or at least haven't stepped on any legos lately. As a mom of four lego loving kids, I'd rather step on my manuscript :)

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  22. I wholeheartedly agree! Crit partners are the best. Most of the time they are telling me things that I already know deep down but am too stubborn to admit. :)

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  23. I'm taking this step now with my second novel by handing it to two beta-readers. This is the first time I've done this. I wrote my first book without any input at all from betas. But it took me three years...much of that putting it in a drawer so I could view it objectively. Betas may help the process along a wee bit faster.

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  24. definitely need more perspective!
    and legos built from bottom are so difficult to picture until almost done!

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  25. LOL! I love the mom analogies... you speak my language! I love my betas... I'm just about done with my WIP so I'm gearing up for their critiques... they're soooo essential. Don't know what I'd do without them ;)

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  26. Great post Emily! And so true, CP's are worth their weight in gold!

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  27. The Lego analogy is brilliant! I never thought of it that way. :)

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  28. Awesome 100th post! That's fabulous! And I agree. Crit partners are wonderful. Sometimes its hard, but it always makes my work better - and I canNOT do it objectively so crit opinions are pure gold!

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  29. glad crit partners are not like siblings or cousins who like to tear apart the creations just to see how loud the creator can scream.

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  30. Congratulations on 100 posts! :)

    I love the analogy. Both for its writing significance, and, well, the fact you mentioned Lego.

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  31. I'm happy to hand my work to my critique partners!
    And congratulations on a hundred posts.

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  32. Kudos on this analogy. It's quite appropriate and soooo terribly true.

    I want my piece to be perfect just the way it is when I finish the first draft. BUT, I'm smart enough to know that there are probably enough plot holes and grammatical errors to build a new city with, so having another set of eyes review, critique and point out the things that should be so blatantly obvious - but I miss it because it's my baby - is extremely important.

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  33. Congrats on 100 posts! That's a lot of words.

    Takes someone with a good eye for story and a willingness to use tough love to make a good lego-breaker-upper/critique partner.

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  34. Impressive analogy! One worthy of a 100 posts princess for sure :) Good to get back to your awesome blog.

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  35. Congrats on your 100th post! I used to live in fear of the critique. So much so that I didn't even let anyone see my first novel until the night before I was going to submit it and boy was I glad I did. There were so many things wrong with it that I would have been so embarrassed about later on!

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  36. Great metaphor. I love my crit partners and have come to rely on them. It takes awhile to get used to taking critique. Practice makes it better. :)

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  37. What would life be without Lego?

    Oddly, I never had problems tearing my creations apart because I couldn't wait to get on and make something new. I think a similar feeling is powering me through my current revisions - I want to put this behind me and move on to a new project.

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  38. Tara, very true!

    Carrie, anyone who takes a lot of time to create something has a difficult time destroying it. Even my four-year-old can't. :)

    Leigh, if only we could be objective. That would be awesome.

    Nancy, ha! No kidding.

    Botanist, I've gotten to the point when I feel the same way. Bring on the tough love!

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  39. AND you don't cut your bare foot when you step on your manuscript. I always like to snuggle for just a little bit with a finished draft before I send it out to be deconstructed, then I'm ready to face the critiques.

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  40. Great analogy! I've had my share of Lego tear downs. Manuscript ones too. And you're right. As tough as it is to have your work judged, with someone you trust it ultimately leads to something great.

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  41. This is a pretty fantastic comparison! I love CP's for this reason exactly. They can do a lot of hard work for us that sometimes we aren't quite prepared for.

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  42. So true. I have two wonderful critique partners, and I totally rely on them.

    Congrats on your 100th post!

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  43. Beautiful. Thank you. Some people find it hard to take feedback.

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  44. I love this! It's so true. And we have the same problem at our house with blocks and legos. :)

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  45. Leslie, give it a good snuggle, pack it a lunch, and send it on its way, right?

    Robin, you got it!

    Carol, I have three and they all do something different for me. They're wonderful!

    Peaches, feedback can be rough, but when delivered with love, it's priceless.

    Katie, watch your step! : )

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  46. Thanks for the hopeful post regarding revisions. I'm shopping around for a professional editor and getting lots of feedback int he meantime, a long, but worthwhile struggle:)

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  47. Ah, legos. That's why you need to have so many of them--so they'll be able to play with more without dismantling their previous creative works. But yes, input from critique partners is so important.

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  48. So good!
    Can I add... A good crit partner is invaluable
    It took me a while to know what I was looking for in a cp.

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  49. Yep, I have trouble tearing apart my story too. That's why I like to outline first. And yes critique partners are a must!

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  50. It is hard to tear it apart, but you're right in that there's nothing like putting it all back together!!

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  51. Yes, I am super-late, but I loved this analogy! Editing = writing with legos. Wait, that didn't come out right, but I totally identified with this post! I like the fact that I can build again, nothing is stuck together forever, until I get out some model glue. ;)

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  52. So true... even if it hurts, it's needed.

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  53. Lara, you're right. You can always rebuild!

    Tania, yes it does. But that's part of being a writer, don't you think?

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts!