To Critique or Not to Critique…

Being Critiqued

Deciding whether or not to have your work critiqued is a tricky thing. My advice is to not rush into critiquing if you’re not ready to hear that your work could benefit from changes or that you’ve made some mistakes. From my perspective the number one rule is don’t ask for your work to be critiqued simply because you wish to hear someone tell you how good it is. More often than not that road leads to disappointment.

Ask for a critique because you’re at that stage in your writing where you’re ready for not only constructive criticism, but an acknowledgement of what you are doing right.

Listen to what your Critique Partner has to say. Don’t take offense and justify what you’ve done. Refrain from arguing. Sure, have a friendly, lively discussion, (my CP and I go at it with a fine tooth comb and that’s the way we both like it) just don’t adopt the attitude that you’re right your CP is wrong. Remember, you asked them to check for faults/ways to improve your ms. You don’t have to agree with everything your CP proposes, but do consider they may have a point. The final decision always rests with you.

Certainly don’t be afraid to explain your reasons for writing a particular scene/character the way you have. The problem is, you know what your characters mean, what their motivation is. If your CP has a problem with it, it may be that some crucial point is missing or that you have not clearly explained the driving force behind their actions.

It may transpire that while you’re clarifying, the simple act of discussing that scene will bring to light something you have not included. Or your CP may have a suggestion or two that will keep your idea and make it more apparent to the reader – or inspire one in you.  If your CP found it a stumbling block in your story there may be something to their criticism.

If you don’t understand your CP’s point ask politely for clarification.


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8 Responses to “To Critique or Not to Critique…”

  1. Suzi Love Says:

    Great post on critiquing, as it can be such a sensitive subject.
    I’ll spread the word,

  2. sandra Says:

    Thanks, Suzi. I took your advice and created a couple of posts yesterday. The flip-side of critiquing (as in giving one) is scheduled for Saturday. Then I’ve got a photographic one the week after. So thank you for your encouragement and support. 🙂

  3. Helene Says:

    Very timely post, Sandie. I’ve had a number of discussions with people recently about the pros and cons of crit partnerships. I think respect is the key to a good relationship (of any kind!) and manners are part of that. Love it!

  4. sandra Says:

    Thanks, Helene. 🙂 You are quite right re the respect and manners. 🙂

  5. Vonnie Hughes Says:

    Sensible advice, Sandra. Hothouse flowers don’t survive long in the critique garden. But how usefuly they are, those tough critiquers!

  6. sandra Says:

    Hi, Vonnie! Thanks for dropping by. LOL re the hothouse flowers comment – that is so true. I still slap my forehead when my fabulous CP points out possible flaws. I for one have to state that my writing has improved unbelievably since being lucky enough to land a great CP.

  7. Kylie Griffin Says:

    Quote from our post for me was: “…number one rule is don’t ask for your work to be critiqued simply because you wish to hear someone tell you how good it is.” closely followed by the don’t rush into finding a CP until you’re ready.

    Unfortunately there are some writers out there who think that’s what a critique is or should be. Downside to that attitude is your work never improves nor will you grow as a writer.

    Establishing clear expectations of what each of you want out of a partnership is important too. Working out how much time and effort you think you’re going to be able to spend on helping your CP is another – if you’re expecting to receive an in-depth crit of a piece of work but your partner only make a few comments then perhaps she’s not the best fit for what you need at that time.

    The other thing to remember is that a crit is just one persons opinion and isn’t gospel. You don’t have to change or modify your work if the suggestions don’t gel with what you’re trying to achieve (there’s a difference between something not being made clear and altering your voice or the direction of your work).

    A great post Sandra – sorry for the novel but this is a good topic to discuss the pro’s and con’s of. 🙂

  8. sandra Says:

    Hi Kylie, Thanks for your input. 🙂 It is a rather overwhelming subject and your points are all bang on.

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