Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On Critique

When I first started writing with the goal of eventually getting paid for it, I thought this meant that I'd be doing lots and lots of writing. I was right, in a way - I am doing lots, and lots, and LOTS of writing. But there's something I do even more of than that: critiquing. The art of giving and getting feedback is an integral and essential part of being a writer, and lately, I've been doing a lot of both.

And it is an art! In the past few days, I've been reminded of a couple of the finer points. Namely:

- Modesty. No-one is the be-all and end-all of publishing, and nothing grates more than critiquers who think (or sound like they think) they are. Your opinions are only your own, and it doesn't hurt to say so in your feedback. Equally, don't ask for critique when what you really want is praise. Which brings me to:

- Readiness. The person who asks for feedback and then argues with their critiquers will not have critiquers for very long. If you're still so attached to your manusript that you can't see how someone else's ideas can improve it, then you're not ready to receive critique. Which brings me to:

- Generosity, or as I like to say to my kids, "Do Unto Others". Offer honest critique, and you will get honest critique. Don't ask for feedback unless you're willing to reciprocate. Which brings me to:

- Moderation. An avalanche of edits, however well-intentioned, is still an avalanche. Choose the most important, most glaring things to point out. Too much negative can be overwhelming. Which brings me to:

- Balance. No manuscript, no matter how awful, has nothing redeeming about it. Find the good in each piece, and praise it.

Now, go forth and critique!

And thanks for stopping by.


  1. Excellent points, Ishta! Good for you for seeking out the critiques.

  2. Thanks, Lizann! It's been a busy week, but a good one. There's nothing like receiving a bunch of comments within hours of posting to kick you into high gear!

  3. I'm surprised how well I've been able to take critiques. When I was younger, I used to get so devastated when I'd hear something besides "I think it's great". Maybe age and a lot of other criticism in other areas has hardened me! What I'm trying to get my head around is the fact that you don't have to try to take every bit of suggestion from 20 different people and try to incorporate it. I did that in my first few rounds with my critique group and I just ended up frustrated and with a huge headache!

  4. Ha-ha - yes, I remember trying to incorporate every bit of feedback with my first MS and it ended up worse than when I had started! LOL! I think part of this is knowing the heart of the story you want to tell. It's something I still struggle with from time to time, but now when I try to rewrite based on someone's feedback and I don't like the results, I just go back to my previous version. You can't please everybody!