Critique group critiquing

Yikes! I’m in a predicament.  I have to give input on something that is confusing at best.  Where do I start?

You know when you’re reading a piece you’ve been asked to critique or edit and while in the solitude of your own space a sentence jumps out and smacks you in the face, but not in a good way. You shake your head and reread it. First silently, then aloud to your dog who was sleeping peacefully before said sentence made its appearance known.

 

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Yes, can you believe it, that is what they wrote? I ask my trusty and furry companion.   He cannot.

His eyes suggest, as does his yawn, that I should move on. That maybe the next sentence will be better.

You know you’re in trouble when your forehead starts to ache. Each line across it deepening, and your dog gets up to find a quieter more peaceful spot.

How to put criticism or correction nicely?  It’s an oxymoron of sorts. Now I know how to deal with this oxymoron, or I thought I did.  I have in the past couched phrases to gently nudge, but its not my go to response, and its definitely not in this particular case.

Critiquing is headache provoking! At least for me it is.

You’re trying to make sense of what’s in front of you, all the while having a running inner monologue full of exclamations and explitives and at the same time trying to think of how you could, and should put a positive spin on your criticisms.

I think its time to take a Tylenol.

If this is a window into the daily task of an agent or editor it’s no wonder they push manuscripts aside if they’re not captivated after reading the first few lines.

What was it that Thumper said to Flower in Disney’s Bambi?  “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.”  That is a tempting road to take-but no that won’t go over well.

I’ll look at the manuscript again later, maybe I’ll have an epiphany and come up with magnificent efficient constructive criticism on the second go around.

Also I think its time I look at what I submitted.  Is my critique partner reading my piece thinking exactly what I’m thinking about their piece? Not only do I have a headache, now I’m a bit nauseaus as well. I’ve got to go reread and probably revise.

‘Til soon,

Pssst-if you have any advice or suggestions on how you’ve constructively critiqued a difficult piece I’d appreciate it if you’d share them.

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5 thoughts on “Critique group critiquing”

  1. I enjoyed this post, Jan. I have never critiqued someone else’s writing. I don’t think I have sufficient experience for that yet. I do get my own work critiqued by a few people. They often have a number of comments, suggestions and changes. Developmental editing has resulted in quite a bit re-write for me and a change in the entire timeline of my book. I embraced it. It was exactly what I was looking for. How else can we ever improved. Critiquing must be honest or it serves no purpose.

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  2. I agree. Without constructive criticism we can’t improve. And its so important when giving criticism to validate the writers perspective when communicating your perspective as a reader, because as writers we can get so caught up in our work and the thoughts in our head that we can have a difficult time seeing our work from a readers perspective.

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  3. When I’m in a situation like this, I often ask questions in my critique. “Why did the character do x when before he was thinking y? It feels contradictory.” “Is your theme about trust or more narrow, how trust develops between step siblings? Does this scene showcase that clearly?” By asking questions, I hope to help the author focus on what they want the piece to be. Once they have a better understanding, they revise accordingly. Often the confusion in the text is a result of confusion in the author. Another reason I use questions is that they force the author to find solutions but don’t have negative connotations within themselves. Sometimes it is hard to come up with the right questions though.

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  4. As a teacher and a reviewer I have experienced this feeling far more often then not. My best advice is to be honest. Always professional, but honest, and try to find one good thing (or even better than bad thing) to praise.

    Liked by 1 person

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