Thursday, January 2, 2014

Simon Cowell or Paula Abdul?

Remember the first few seasons of American Idol? Simon, Randy, and Paula were the panel of judges, and each had their own styles of critique.

Simon, of course, became known for his sometimes blatantly harsh feedback--sometimes bringing hopeful performers to tears. But when he gave someone praise, they were usually REALLY good. So it was one way of knowing someone had the it factor. And if I were a singer and Simon gave me a compliment, I'd know I for sure I had a real chance of a singing career. He predicted Carrie Underwood would go on to win the show as well as become a major star in the very beginning of her season. Look at her now.

Paula, on the other hand, never wanted to hurt anyone's feelings. She was polite, sensitive, and gentle. I often wondered if it was because her own singing voice was never very strong, although very unique. She really struggled with telling people their weaknesses, but at the same time, she helped balance the feedback that was given from the panel, and probably saved a lot of egos from sinking into a perpetual abyss of failure. Her agreeable style of feedback was a welcomed relief for many aspiring performers.

Randy was somewhere in the middle. Not as blunt as Simon, but not as gentle as Paula. His tastes in music seemed to vary, and he could enjoy a performance and style that Simon would scoff at. That was important too, since not everyone will be a mainstream hit. Randy represented the audiences that could march to a different beat, and that was cool. Because we NEED variety.

So you can see where I"m going with this, right? How each judge brought something important to the table. When you're critiquing someone's work, which judge are you more like? Or do you range between the three mentioned here?

For me personally, when someone's critiquing or beta reading my story, I want a little of each. I want honest feedback even if it hurts, so that I can fix what's wrong and grow as a writer. I want it to be softened with gentle words so my ego isn't ripped to shreds and I know I can press on. And I want my work to be seen as an individual piece of art that doesn't have to compare to what's already popular or mainstream.

This is also how I try to critique others. I believe the golden rule applies here more than any other. We all know how valuable it is to find CPs and betas who truly get our work and help make it shine. And critiquing others' work has helped me grow as a writer in so many ways. I've learned more from evaluating others' stories than any paid workshop has ever taught me, and it helps me pick out areas for improvement in my own work.

I say seek out new CPs and betas with each new story, and tell the ones you already have how much you appreciate them.

Hey, I've got some fun news! I'm co-hosting a blogfest with Crystal Collier and Tammy Theriault that will be a smashing good time! Get this, we want you to tell us who you'd have your parents arrange your marriage to, if you know, you lived in a time or place when that was commonplace. Here's where the fun comes in--it can be ANYBODY! Fictional characters, celebrities, politicians.... you name it! But we want to know why you picked them.

So put your thinking caps on and get creative, because this is going to be so much fun. I don't even have to think about who my arranged marriage should be to. I've swooned over him ever since I first read the book. :)



Sign up below and spread the word! The more the merrier!  

And Happy New Year!!

Tell me, do you find value in your critiques--the ones you give as well as receive? Are you Simon, Paula, or Randy? Or a little of all three? Please share ...

21 comments:

Norma Beishir said...

I hate to admit it, but I'm a Simon.

Crystal Collier said...

Wahoo! Here's to an amazing blogfest and abundant cheese. =)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm somewhere between Randy and Paula...

Andrew Leon said...

I think the issue there is that we can't really be all three styles at once. That's comes off as kind of bi-polar: "It sucked, but I really loved it!"
>blink< What?
And, mostly, people who are like Paula -cannot- be like Simon. They don't have it in them, and, if you surround yourself with Paula's, you'll be in for a rough ride when you make it out into the world. I don't find the Paula's very useful from that standpoint.

Yes, I am more like Simon.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I'm signed up!

I could never be a Simon. First, I don't have that much confidence in my knowledge to think I could be the definitive judge of anything. But I do try to be honest, noting what bothers me as a reader. But I always have to remind people, there is a personal taste factor in all of this. I mean I was not a fan of the last few Potter books...so what do I know?

JJ said...

I am definitely straightforward and blunt, but I don't go out of my way to hurt anyone. I would rather say nothing.

Years ago, at the college I where I was teaching, people used to say, "Ask JJ." Often, the response would be, "No way. He'll tell me the truth."

There are no writers who have not faced rejection.

Madeline Jane said...

Ahh, American Idol will never be the same. At least I can still watch Simon's brilliance on the X-Factor. I think I'm somewhat like Randy, because I never seem to like too much mainstream, and I say bro too much. ;)

Donna Hole said...

I'm a bit of Simon/Randy. I'll never say "you suck give it up" but I won't ever say "aw precious, just keep trying" either. While I'm somewhere in the middle as a critiquer, I lean towards the harsher realities. Not to be mean, but to prepare the author for the realities of professional (no I'm not a professional) editing when the writing is accepted.

I'm an eclectic reader too; I love anything that is a well written story even if it is not in my preferred genre. Good writing always shows, even if it needs a little more spit and polish.

.......dhole

Kyra Lennon said...

I can't cope with Simon style critiquers. Not only because harsh words are painful, but because, IMHO, it shows a level of arrogance and I'm not a fan of arrogance!

However, I do want honesty, I just believe there are ways of saying things politely, and without crushing the spirit of another person who has worked hard to create something. :)

Denise Covey said...

I'm definitely a Paula, but I always try to be honest but tactful. I did hurt a CP once that I know of and that was a bad experience. It is a difficult task.

Great blogfest. I won't sign up while on my travels but will look at it again when I get home and see how things lie.

Happy New Year!

Denise Covey said...

I'm definitely a Paula, but I always try to be honest but tactful. I did hurt a CP once that I know of and that was a bad experience. It is a difficult task.

Great blogfest. I won't sign up while on my travels but will look at it again when I get home and see how things lie.

Happy New Year!

Jess said...

I think I'm more of a Paula than a Simon, but I always try to give some sort of constructive feedback. On a bit of a side note, I'm excited to see what Harry Connick Jr. brings to the show as a judge this coming season :) The blogfest sounds cool! I'm taking a blogging break over the next month or so, or I'd hop on the ride.

Karen Walker said...

I'm a Paula and I need a Paula to give me feedback. I don't believe criticism should ever be harsh or cruel. Honest, yes. But Simon can be very cruel and judgmental and there's no need for that.

Carrie-Anne said...

I never got into American Idol, though I watched parts of a few shows now and again. I'm probably more of a Paula. A good critique should be honest yet friendly. I really dislike the apparent trend of ONLY mentioning what you didn't like, instead of also what you did like. I had one failed connection with a would-be beta who even criticised the fact that I didn't use that butt-ugly, generic Times New Roman. Nope, not gonna write in anything but Palatino after 20 years together.

Misha Gericke said...

I'm a bit of both. Probably more between Simon and Randy because that's what I actually want in my critting.

I like compliments where the bits are good, but I don't want to wade through stuff to try and see what's wrong.

If I did, I wouldn't need a crit partner.

Lexa Cain said...

You hit the nail on the head of the perfect critter. It's important to be honest, but be diplomatic and encouraging at the same time. Good luck with your blogfest! :-)

jamieayres.com said...

I try to be a bit of both for others as well, but honestly, I like a Simon. My skin is thick and tough, so I say, bring it on! Excited for the blogfest . . . I already know mine too!

SA Larsenッ said...

For me, it's all about honesty, delivery, and motive. If I'm reading for someone else, I promise to give them my true opinions in a cordial manner for the betterment of their work. Period. In return, I expect the same.

William Kendall said...

I could never bring myself to watch those kind of shows... just the commercials are enough to have me rolling my eyes. I'd be inclined to leave my snarkiness to insulting idiot ex-brothers-in-law...

Have fun with the blogfest!

Leslie S. Rose said...

I guess I'm a Paulimon. I make sure to point out everything I love, but I also don't pull any punches with pieces that hit me with a clank. Of course, I never say, "That hit me with a clank." Blog hop looks like a blast.

erica and christy said...

Well, I suppose when I'm nitpicking a part that is confusing or giving an honest opinion or suggestion on how to fix something...I'm Simon. But a few paragraphs later when I say how much I love a line or a scene or how a character is developing, I guess that's Randy. And in the end, when I gush about the writer's overall talent or pinpoint my favorite part of her style..I'm Paula? Thanks for your feedback on my First Impressions page! (Sadly, the mom is not paranormal...strictly a contemporary YA.) :) Christy