i hate to make you read this: critique guilt

I feel guilty.

Critique group yesterday.  Chapter 10 gallops along—pathos, intensity, drama.

Fearless leader reads with vigor and gusto.  Including the “fudge” word.

Only it wasn’t “fudge”.

And Lord, the name-calling, including, “baby-lick”.

Only it wasn’t “lick”.

And by golly, Fearless Leader read it like she meant it!

At first I laughed, but then, I was mortified at what I had done to this tableful of  refined ladies.

Week by week I have spooled out my story, made them care about my rogue’s gallery.  They’re willing to go along for the ride. (Because they’re  really good sports.)

Over nine chapters they’ve learned my main character’s story:  hardship, trauma, sacrifice.  So when the big moment came, and the “f” bomb exploded…


They were ready for it!  Judging by the reaction, you might say they relished it.

Because the words MEANT SOMETHING.  They were meant for anger, for the ultimate put-down, like they used to be.  They weren’t scattered through the text to be cool.  They didn’t pop out three and four times a paragraph instead of “um” and “uh”.  The two offending words were each used once, strategically, and for great effect.

Okay, then.  No guilt.

But then I think about Fearless Leader, her impeccable pageboy, her sweet smile, her lady-like voice, barking out those words…

I still gotta cringe.


About Lisha Cauthen

Lisha Cauthen writes YA novels for guys that girls like to read too.

Posted on April 30, 2009, in childrens' literature, end of western civilisation as we know it, writing, YA literature and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Yep. Felt the same way when she read the first chapter of my adult manuscript. 🙂

  2. Oh, yeah, Coooolllleeeeen. Hmmmm. Was I there for that? ‘Cuz I remember YOU reading your first chapter, all head down, and everything…

  3. But think about it…
    Fearless Leader would never use those two words in Real Life. You have given Fearless Leader the opportunity to bark out those words for a Completely Sanctioned Reason… helping a fellow writer to polish her manuscript. It’s Fearless Leader’s duty. Therefore…No Guilt. 🙂

  4. Sooo,

    Fearless Leader sort of enjoyed it. Interesting.

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