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Budding writer age 10 v upset by criticism

(7 Posts)
Habanera Mon 18-Mar-13 10:25:03

My dd wants to be a fiction writer, nothing else will do, never has wavered since age 5, so she entered a competion locally and had to go to the presentation to find out how she did. She threw herself into it (actually she was still only 9 come to think of it) accepted no help and submitted a long but exciting story. It had a few flaws but she has had zero advice I.e. from school on things like redrafting so refused to see the need or do any (I am just mum so know nothing).

She was at least outwardly not expecting to win anything , and didn't place - ok she was disappointed. TBH I think there was an element of luck and the winning stories were not massively better but only a bit of each was printed so no way to learn much there. But she was VERY upset by the critical commentary feedback. It had some praise but was more than 50% negative- bit harsh really for a child on first attempt.

I know it's tough out there - criticism is hard to take. the problem is at state primary school she never gets any, and the schoolwork is too easy for her, so she's got a false impression of her own ability plus no advice lp to develope the next skills she needs to improve what can I say if anything to help?

Nyx Mon 18-Mar-13 10:32:01

That is a shame for her, I understand she must be feeling crushed. Perhaps tell her that the criticism is intended to help her; if her story was absolute rubbish, they wouldn't have bothered to spend so much time on the criticism. Was it constructive criticism? Tell her that if she takes on board what has been said, she will be able to write an even better story.

Explain that even the best writers rewrite and rewrite and amend and cross out, and still get criticism. Also, you can't please everybody all of the time, etc.

FWIW' I am impressed at her dedication and her ambition. I bet you are really proud of her!

TunipTheVegedude Mon 18-Mar-13 10:46:02

Buy her a 'how to write' book that's aimed at kids (I don't know of any in particular but they must exist) to make it clear to her it is a craft you learn, and find some accounts by her favourite writers about how they got rejected and learned to improve. Maybe google for their websites. They often have bits of autobiography and advice for children who want to write.

There's an essay by Jacqueline Wilson in the Children's Writers and Artists Yearbook where she says 'don't be a ninny like me, almost giving up at the first attempt'. It's not worth buying the book just for that, but quote it to her.

I really feel for her, it is horrible. When I was 10 my mother proudly took a long story I had written to show my teacher at parents' evening. A few weeks later, I wrote something in class which my teacher loved. Teacher said: 'It's so much better than the book your mum brought in, that wasn't really any good, was it?' As soon as I got home I ripped up my book and put it in the dustbin.

My skin is thicker now, and hers will be with time! At the moment I am sending a draft of my current attempt at a novel round to friends to read and comment on. The people I absolutely want to hug are the ones who say 'Hmm, that character doesn't really work, and that bit doesn't make sense, and the problem with your writing style is this....' because they are giving me the priceless information I need to make it better. I guess if she felt the story was finished she doesn't see the criticism as something she can use, but if you can help her see how writers use criticism positively she can start to understand that it's part of the process of writing the best book possible, not an evil thing that means she isn't any good.

Good luck to her. Tell her to keep going x

TunipTheVegedude Mon 18-Mar-13 12:39:15

book recommendation - I just randomly came across people recommending it on a writer's forum.

Habanera Mon 18-Mar-13 15:50:58

Thanks NYX and TV, I'm sure the criticism was meant to be constructive there was just rather a lot in one go! She said she saw others over their shoulders and they were all positive - some exaggeration probably on her part. In fact you are right, this is the first proper response she has had, and means she was taken seriously! Maybe we can put that one in a drawer and come back to it one day.

She isn't planning to quit anyway and did a bit of work on something she's doing for class. She'll show'em! (Maybe)

The book writing magiclooks excellent, not in stock right now - any others out there? She's a heavy duty reader as you might guess.

Best of luck with you endeavours I love to read but can't come up with any stories.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 18-Mar-13 15:58:26

If you click on the other sellers on the link, they have it in stock, it's just the main one that hasn't.

I'm glad she isn't planning to quit. Putting it away for now is sensible. Sometimes you can come back to criticisms when you're in the right frame of mind for them and find them more useful than you initially thought they were.

Ullena Fri 24-May-13 20:23:03

I know of a small journal that accepts children's work. They are very good when it comes to feedback. PM me if you would like their contact details smile

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