Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Re-Post: On Critique

I'll be attending the Writers' Intensive sessions at the SCBWI Winter Conference this Friday (and while the writers' intensive is full, you an still register for the rest of the conference), and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get and give some in-depth critique. In light of that, I dug up this post from last August, which pretty much sums up my feelings about the whole process. Enjoy.

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. have fun at the conference! I so love going to conferences!

  2. Have a great conference and tell us all about it! Wish I could be there. Maybe next year. I look forward to your critique ...

  3. Well said! I've seen your critiques at writeoncon last year and you do them very well. Have a great time at the conference!