Table Talk in Writing

Friday night Dear Hubby and I played Sequence with Eldest and a handful of his friends.  Even though the kids cheated horribly, DH and I kicked some kid butt. 

The reason, at least to my way of thinking?  The kids were so busy trying out their secret table talk that they failed to keep their heads in the game.

Writing is a bit like this.  Okay, A LOT like this. 

Just yesterday, one of my crit buddies and I chatted about how we–insert writerly name here–have the tendency to defend and explain our positions during a critique session. 

“But,” we might say to some feedback, “this is why I did it.”

Or, “I know this sounds confusing now–insert explaination–but it makes perfect sense later in the manuscript.”

Oh yeah, we are masters at defending our positions.  What we should be doing, however, is keeping our heads in the game. 

While we may have the luxury of enlightening our crit partners with extracurricular table talk, we do not have this same advantage when our readers include agents, editors and the paying public.

In the future, we may be able to insert a little chip in our digital editions that says, “Press button here to understand this section of the book.”

Until then, our manuscripts better speak for themselves.  And this means no table talk.  Because whenever we do this, we cheapen our writing and cheat our readers out of a delightful experience.

So, what do you do with critique commentary?  Have you had to pull out your cheat sheet and explain your writing to your readers, or do you just sit back and keep your head in the game? 

6 responses to “Table Talk in Writing

  1. I think we’ve all done this. I do try to ask my crit buddies, after having explained the passage, what they think I might do to improve the attempt at foreshadowing. Or ask if it’s needed. That’s usually a win-win response.

    • Victoria,

      Good point in opening the dialogue. I think this is the key to making feedback work.

      Thanks for the comment and the perspective.

  2. I often catch myself thinking “oh he/she just doesn’t GET it.”

    And then I have to remind myself–right. That would be the problem now wouldn’t it?

    The reason I always wait a little while to respond to critique. And usually my response ends up being “Thanks so much!”. Even if it makes me want to cry. 😀

    • Great strategy, Michelle. The waiting to respond, not the crying!

      It usually takes time for us to get over the, “Pshaw, they don’t know Jack about my writing,” and get to that place where we can say, “Uhm, as much as it sucks, they have a point.”

  3. I was working on narratives with my students the other day – and this was the toughest concept to get across. When they were conferencing I kept hearing, but that’s what I meant! We did a lot of revising!! 🙂

    • That’s great. What grade do you teach again? Because I’m moving to your hometown when my littles are old enough to be in your class.

      : )

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