Monday, January 28, 2019

Literary Leftovers, Critique Groups, and a Matter of POV

Years ago when I first started writing, I'd never heard of POV and had no idea what it even meant. Show don't tell?? Why can’t I use a plethora of adverbs? Omniscient is something God is. 

What I didn't have was a problem accepting the hard critiques. I’d spent much of my life involved in theatre, with directors telling me how to portray a character. They didn’t always want what I was doing, and would suggest a different way. 

When I began writing novels, I joined a critique group, where I also received tough critiques. The difference was, while they were hard, I never viewed them as harsh. It's all a matter of POV. I wantedto learn. I read those critiques from the POV of being taught - not attacked.

Good critique partners won't let us get away with anything less than our best. We should grow to the point where we don't need compliments. The highest compliment I can receive from my CPs is getting back a chapter with no suggestions or corrections. I think that’s only happened once. 

How do we do give the best critiques? Read with an editor's eye and a brother or sister-in-Christ's heart; the mindset that God deserves our best not our leftovers. When I’m lazy and don’t feel like thinking up a new meal, I fix leftovers. I even tell myself I’m being thrifty. That might be fine with food—but not in our writing. 

What are literary leftovers?
  • Not removing superfluous adverbs in contrast to spending an extra twenty minutes looking for just the right verb. 
  • Not knowing your characters well enough to communicate their hurts and motivation.
  • Not investing the time required to get the character's motivation shown-not-told on the page. 
  • Using clichés or over-used metaphors
  • Recycling a great metaphor or simile without changing it.    
  • Using the same old conflict over and over. In romance, if miscommunication is the only conflict, that’s week-old-moldy-green leftovers.
  • Not always striving to grow as a writer.

Even if you've already got an agent, have been close to a contract, or you’re published, you can still get a low score on a contest entry. Fiction is subjective. We all know that. But instead of ruffling your quills in indignation, change your personal POV. See teaching not attacking. You'll be glad you did. You'll add another layer to your rhino skin, and you'll be more willing to kill your darlings. It’s all a matter of yourPOV. 

Do you have any other literary leftovers you can add to this list?


Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She's an award-winningbestselling novelist, a multi-published playwright and contributor to the award-winning blog, The Write Conversation. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler who thinks he’s a teddy bear. You can find Ane at her website,Novel RocketFacebook,Twitter,Pinterest,Google+and The Write Conversation.


  1. Love this post Ms. Ane! Thank you so much ma'am. With your permission, I'll share these words with my Christian Writer's Group "Read with an editor's eye and a brother or sister-in-Christ's heart." - Mrs. Ane Mulligan, a genteel yet proud woman of a fine southern heritage.

  2. Great post, Ane!
    Critique is beneficial for our growth as long as we are open to learn from it.