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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Writing Tip~Critiquing

Today’s tip is inspired by this week’s #WritersRoad chat. Our topic was being a good critique partner. This can end up being so much harder than it sounds. Those of you who are in, or have been in, critique groups know what I mean. It was a great chat filled with a lot of good advice.

Tip: Be the kind of critique partner or beta reader that you expect others to be.

I’ll add to this though, be respectful, mention what worked, what you liked, and don’t try to force your ideas of what needs to be done or changed onto the author. If you expect others not to hold back, understand that others may not be open to this kind of critiquing. The safest thing to do is to get to know the writer first, ask about their expectations, and respect them.

22 comments:

  1. I agree so much about getting to know someone before entering a critique partnership. I can't imagine doing something like that for someone I didn't know!

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    1. I've done it at workshops or after workshops, and it often doesn't go well. Knowing someone and what they expect is key.

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  2. Sounds like it was an excellent chat last night. Sorry I missed this good one.

    Your post is so on point. You can use the same critiquing skills for all writers. I love what you said: You have to know the writer first so that you can customize your critiques. Not all writers are the same.

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    1. Sorry we missed you too, it was a great chat. Being different is what makes writer's wonderful, but unfortunately it also makes critiquing hard.

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  3. Very good advice, Heather. I recently let one of my beta readers go. Let's just say she held *nothing* back. And when I told her I thought her comments were rude, insensitive, and lacked tact, she basically said that's how she likes to be critiqued herself. I'm happy to report my other seven betas were a bit more gentle, but no less honest.

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    1. Yikes Melissa, so sorry to hear that. I don't mind tough crits but they have to be tactful and never rude. Good call!

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  4. Being a good crit. partner is imporant. You're right about respect and not pushing what YOU think is best. I think it's important to find a crit. partner that has the similar insights as you.

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    1. Similar insights is a great place to start. :)

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  5. Great advice! I'm blessed that my critique partner and I swim so well together.

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    1. Thanks Kittie. I'm glad to hear that you have an excellent crit partner. :)

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  6. Sorry I missed the chat. I had a much-needed dinner with a friend last night. I like to give constructive feedback with some line editing (if needed). No one wants their story changed by someone else.

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    1. Family time must come first. :) We understand. It sounds like you have excellent critiquing style.

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  7. Great advice. It is indeed to hard to find a good critique partner and beta reader, and to be one. You're always balancing on the edge of honesty and constructive criticism and of not offending the writer.
    I'm considering trying a critique group again if I find something that will be a good fit. Having said that, Tina Moss has always been a great critique partner for me.

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    1. So true, it is hard on both sides of a critique. It's a ashame you and Tina can't make it to the retreat this year. I have a feeling you'd both fit right into our group!

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  8. Heather, I wish I could have joined you on this #WritersRoad chat. An excellent discussion I'm sure. And great takeaways too!

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  9. These are all great tips. It's important to tell the positive as well as the things that need improving.

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    1. So true! I like to think of it as both sides of the coin. We need both to improve. :)

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  10. Awesome tips, Heather. Our group called it the "sandwich" critique, where you sandwich critical stuff between good stuff. It helped soften the blow :D

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    1. I love that term, and what a perfect idea! I think I'd like your group Julie. :)

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  11. Good tip, especially the part about not pushing your ideas on them... only the writer knows right and feels right for their story:)

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  12. Very well put, Heather! I recently had a new writer come to me in tears, not because her critique partner hadn't given her great crits, but because he'd had nothing good to say. It's important to remember to say what we liked about a work, I think. Balance is a good thing and compliments can take the sting out of things we know we need to fix.

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