Saturday, November 17, 2012

Coffee and Critique

Coffee and Critique

I miss my critique group. They are a fabulous bunch to say the very least! Almost all are published authors, writing in a wide range of genres. Each member brings a unique writing style, point of view, and knowledge of both reading and writing. Working with them fills my cup, if you will. It allows my creative juices to run freely and their wisdom is vast. My schedule has been more demanding than ever as of late, making it impossible for me to meet with them. It is clearly evident my writing has suffered in their absence. That said, this post is about the the importance of critiques, especially finding a critique group with which you can trust your work and heart.

A few thoughts about critiques:

  1. Find someone (or several someones) who is honest but also understands tact. A poorly delivered critique can be crushing. You also need to find someone who understands writing and reading. They have to read in-depth and in a variety of genres. If you can find someone who writes in your specific genre, i.e., children's or horror, even better!
  2. Make sure your work is ready before you give it to them for a critique. If you present a rough draft, critical time will be wasted on basic grammatical and structural errors.That is a major no-no in our group!
  3. Be prepared to possibly have some kind of emotional reaction (good or bad) but understand their critique is not about you.You did ask for their opinion about your work, like it or not. 
  4. After you review or listen to the critique, let it sit for a few days. Any emotions, the highs and the lows, will have subsided, and you will be able to look over the critique(s) more objectively. I often need a good week.
  5. Revisit the critique(s) when you have dedicated time to work through it. Focus on how the suggestions and revisions would help make your work better in the long run.
  6. In looking through the critique(s), label or identify your technical errors because those things absolutely need to be fixed.  
  7. Once this is completed, review the more subjective comments. Chew on these for awhile and then make your own decisions as the author about what you’ll use and what you’ll ignore. A word of advice - if you had multiple critics and they all made certain comments about the same thing, pay attention to it! 
  8. Last but not least, make sure you thank your critic(s). Even if you disagreed with some (or all) of what they had to say, they did take the time to help you. In the end, if you were not satisfied with the critique(s), find a new critique partner or group. There is help out there!

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