Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WiP Wednesday: Critique

This has been an incredibly weird week. A week with eyes and teeth and lots of green snot. But then it grins, and it's kind of cute. Ever had a week like that?

I just sent out a batch of 15-pages to a few wonderful folk who agreed to critique for me. You know who you are, and thank you!

There's been a lot of talk about critique lately. At least, the Query Tracker blog had a lovely post on critiquing the other day. Click on the link if you didn't get to read it.

But I find I feel different than most people about critique. I don't feel like I need a sandwich method. I don't really want fluff or carbs. Give me the meat. Tell me what you're really thinking.

It never hurts me.

The worst that can happen is that I won't agree with something you say. But more often than not,  later, when I've let the feedback simmer for awhile in my sub-conscious, I realize I do agree, and I can go ahead and make a change.

Critique is always helpful as long as it's polite and given with the writer's best interests in mind. But critiquers shouldn't have to claw out their eyes trying to think of something complimentary to say.

A good critique is like a surgeon's scalpel making a decisive cut. No tiger claws involved.

It's not meant to destroy, but to help, to ultimately heal a problem in the manuscript.

So slice away, my friends, with your steady hands. I trust you.


  1. I totally agree that critiquers should say what they think. Just say it, move on. But sometimes what they're thinking is actually positive, and that's okay to share, too.

    (Your surgery analogy, by the way, is spot-on. Clean, purposeful incisions - that's how the best constructive criticism always is.)

  2. Thanks for this, Amy. You're totally right.

  3. I want it straight too, good and bad. I hate hearing "I would keep reading this if I picked it up in a bookstore." Even if that's true, I've seen that reiterated in so many critiques for so many varying levels of writing that it's meaningless. Okay. I'm done. I didn't feel that way when I first started, though, it's just as I've gotten more confident that there are some real strengths in my writing that I can handle getting it straight.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly, but I've got a few years into this, lots of rejections, and some acceptances. I've learned I don't need the fluff anymore, I want to know what makes a reader skip sentences, what did I do that makes their minds wander to "Did I remember to feed the cat?"

    I think the fluff should be reserved for the new writers who need encouragement more than the scalpel!

  5. A friend gave me some good advice about receiving critiques...Only take the advice you want to take and don't let your critiquer's voice become your voice.

  6. that's how the best constructive criticism always is.)
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