Editor’s Critique: Sample 3

This is an example of the type of critique provided by the Clash of the Titles editor to one of the participating authors. Hey, XXXX:
You’re quite welcome, thank you!  I appreciate the high marks.  I’d be grateful in return, if you’d grade me in the group… I ask everyone to offer the same brutal, honest and sincere feedback to my comments, changes and editorial suggestions; way down there somewhere there is a post where some were posting about it, but you can just grab a new line up top if the spirit moves you.  It’s the only way I have of seeing whether/how effective I was in the process.
I also enjoyed reading each different iteration of the story–each one in and of itself.  I find (and fear) that my feedback sometimes gets taken too literally (I’ll admit it: my feedback sometimes lacks bedside manner).  I don’t intend to be sound mean, but when you’re working with your story, it’s like your baby, you just want it to live and be happy and healthy, which is what all writers want.
While it’s difficult to say that I go strictly by the book or am too professional (perhaps officious is the right word), I’m sure some writers feel that way–in fact, last year, I had at least one high-profile writer quit after completing the first video chat, because [he felt] I was either too caustic or he was used to being coddled.  I asked him if he’d been through the workshop experience, and he said yes, but I gave him the boilerplate warning anyway, you know, “In the workshop experience, it’s nothing personal, don’t feel defensive, it’s all in service of the story, blah blah blah.” Afterward, he went through several shades of indigence and agreed to meet again in a month.  Haven’t seen him since.
I know I can come off as too brusque or unwavering, especially on the first draft, but one of the reasons I prefer the video chat is as much is to “meet” my bullpen of writers, get to know them a bit, laugh a little, and hopefully by the end of the first of the four monthly workshop sessions, I am disarming, intelligent (and modest!) and someone you want at the end your video chat, offering feedback, and that I helped strengthen the story in your rewrites.
I know I learn something each time from the interactions, whether it’s video chat, or a “lesser” format–wherein a few authors have pointed out basic grammar stuff that I didn’t know, forgot or just missed.  Mostly it’s going over the story with a fine toothcomb, noting every suggestion, along with the reason, and by the time we’re done with grammar, typos, etc., we get on with having a good time (editing in its purest form is fun for both parties).  The other three sessions are comparatively breezy, and while I don’t believe I’m collaborating, I’d like to think that every story that has found its way to me one way or another, I’ve had a positive impact on it that strengthened it and made it ready for the market. Well, this one, anyway! 🙂
You’ve been a model writer in this exercise in the sense that you “Got it”. Not only did you understand your task in respect to the title, but you surrendered to it utterly.  You changed everything I asked, the way I asked for it, and in some cases, over-corrected.  You weren’t defensive, in fact, that you “stood up to me” sounds somewhat unlike what happened–held your ground, I think, would be a better way to put it.  When your science (astronomy) beat mine, you didn’t mind saying so, and when mine won the day (only in that I happened to be better in touch with new developments), you graciously nodded and worked them in.
I have yet to read this last polish, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s in the Goldilocks zone: Just Right. 🙂
Best,
–Gil

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