analyzing critiques

In a moment of bravery, you have posted or submitted your work to a critique group for discussion. Then you receive your critiques. You immediately swear you will never set another word to paper; however, after a three day depression, you realize you want to write more than you want to breathe.

So now it’s time to analyze those critiques. There are numerous places telling you how to give a good critique, but there aren’t many places where you can find sound advice on how to analyze those critiques.

The first thing to remember is you don’t have to do everything everyone recommends. Analyze not just the comment, but look at who is making the comment.  An older, more experienced writer will pick up on issues that an new writer might overlook.  Some writers focus on line by line “nits” while others focus on summaries and overall characterization.

Sometimes, with the best of intentions, people will recommend changes that fit neither your writing style nor your characters.  Everyone writes differently, and if you are a careful writer, you will have information that you want to present in each scene.  You are in the best position to know how that information should play out in terms of the theme of your story or novel.  So if the comment or suggestion doesn’t fit your writing style, feel free to reject it.

However (knew that was coming, didn’t you?), I always try to take a second look at an individual’s critique whether I intend to use their comments or not.  Sometimes a minor change in wording can work wonders, and if the problem is such that someone takes a moment to type a reply about it, I have to reconsider my sentence structure or the presentation of my information.

If there are more than three people looking at your work, you are in for a variety of opinions. Some of these opinions will be valid to your plot, characterization, and writing style, others will not. 

I use what I call “The Rule of Two.”  If two or more people point out an identical  problem, then you need to fix it.  I had three different people read one of my chapters, and all three pointed out the same paragraph as being convoluted.  Needless to say I fixed it immediately.

Finally, I always try to thank the person critiquing my work whether they give me a paragraph summary or a line by line critique.  It takes a lot of time to sit down and thoroughly analyze someone’s work, and I believe a quick acknowledgement of that individual’s time is common courtesy.

So good luck in analyzing those critiques and look them over carefully.  There are many folks who will help you take a ho-hum manuscript and turn it into a great one if you’re willing to listen. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this!  😉

Copyright 2009 Teresa Frohock


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