Friday, 3 May 2013

The almighty power of Critique

If there is one thing that has both helped and hindered me the most in my writing journey it has been critique. We are too close to our own writing to see its deficits. Our friends and family might be good at proof reading but how much do they know about craft?

Good critique is invaluable. Good critique has taught me more than anything I could read or study because it points out what I personally need to work on. When I first started I was desperate for advice and knew no one; so I resorted to online peer critiquing. Now I know this might work for some but for me it was a horrible nightmare.

It was a nightmare because I write romance, and the few people who bothered to comment were of the literary persuasion that thinks of romance not so fondly. Not saying this is the case for all literary types but it was for these. They were primarily older males that neither appreciated nor understood the genre, or the style, and so their critique was extremely disparaging and in truth; patronizing.

I have to tell you I even received Rhett Butler type lines from these men like 'Frankly, my dear' where they proceeded to educate poor little me on true literary technique - at least as they saw it, and in great long essay form.  This is not constructive, this is not helpful. It almost stopped my writing.

Critique can be helpful or it can be destroying. Going to the wrong place for it can have major adverse effects. Not everyone will make a good CP. Think carefully before putting your work up in a public forum where people of all types can bash you down. Not everyone is constructive, not everyone will get you or your writing.

Now I'm not saying a good critiquer is someone who only has nice things to say; personally I'm quiet tough and not everyone likes that. But, I try to be honest, point out what needs work, but be encouraging. Sometimes what I have to say could be taken the wrong way, but honestly I would not offer the critique if I didn't really see something in the work.

I very recently gained a new CP whose work I really connected with and who connected with mine. She pointed out a few things (some of which stung - mainly because any criticism of our writing feels like someone telling us our soul is ugly) but she was so spot on so on point, that her advice has pretty much single-handedly helped me smooth out those last niggly bits from my MS. And guess what? I think I might just be doing the same for her.

Other writers are for the most part our best resource and our best friends. The important thing is to find people who write what you write! Find people who connect with your writing at least on some level and show your writing to no one else. If you are connecting with other writers on forums and social media this is a great way to find CP's - People you connect with but who will be honest. Also if you're a romance writer like me, try RWA CP matching services. I know I have found a real gem of a CP that way. These people will help you, support you, and encourage you constructively.

Want to share some CP love or advice?

1 comment:

  1. I actually found a great reader through reading blogs. I was stuck on my contemporary fantasy - knew something was wrong but just couldn't figure it out. Then I noticed that Nicole, a blogger, had a background in editing, so I asked her to read it for me. She was AWESOME. Totally got me back on track so much so I made her a web site so she could do it for others ( ).

    Thought I could just do it all myself and it turns out, I couldn't!