Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Writerly Wednesday: Critiquing & Critique Partners

I've been actually writing here lately. Believe me, this is a big deal because I'd hit a wall. I'm not sure what the problem was that was keeping me from moving forward, but I hope I've gotten over it. And I didn't get over it all by my lonesome. It took some very encouraging words from one particular awesome CP *cough* Stefanie Gaither *cough*. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Critique partners/writer buddies are INVALUABLE to the process!" If you're the type of writer who doesn't want/need writer buddies, then you are better than I, but this girl right here neeeeds someone to talk to who truly understands.

Me when someone who isn't a writer tries to cheer me up.

So, today I'd like to talk about what I think makes an awesome critique and an awesome CP. First off, I think finding someone you mesh with is very important. When Stef and I first started emailing, I decided to ask a few questions. They were very important questions like "Which do you prefer: Star Wars or Star Trek?" And I must say that Stef got a point against her when she said that she hadn't seen Star Wars.

My reaction when I read her response.

But I let that slide because she was funny and awkward and wrote in the same genre as me. And then when I got her first critique of my work, I knew I had to hold on to her. She wasn't afraid to be honest about my writing like some of the other potential CPs I'd been emailing with. BUT she wasn't harsh about her opinions, either. I'm pretty sure she was the one who told me about the "sandwich" method of critiquing.

Mmmm, sandwich...

This is where you give a compliment before and after a critical comment. This just makes sense to me because we don't want to bring our friends down, but we do want to help them. So, wrapping a comment like "This character action doesn't seem to fit who the character is. Seems more like author intrusion," with a couple of *honest* comments like "Love this word choice" and "Excellent description" can soften the blow. 

(Sidenote: Know that when you make the step up to getting an agent or an editor, this isn't the normal style of critique. When those awesome people mark up your manuscript, they won't flatter you for every time they want you to change/cut something. They took you/your work on so you know already they like it.)

I'd also like to mention that even if a CP doesn't give as many compliments as you'd like, you should never, ever completely dismiss their critique. If you don't agree with something, that's fine, it's your writing and you should follow your gut. But take their comments into consideration, at least.

A lot goes into giving a good critique. You're focusing on the work as a whole a lot of times. Does the plot make sense? Are the characters likable? What about the grammar, word usage, and punctuation? I think it's a good idea to ask if there's anything in particular the author is curious about. Are they just looking for an overall feeling/vibe the reader gets or maybe they're looking for how a relationship between two characters is developing? 

Also, I think an awesome writer buddy doesn't only critique. They're there to bounce ideas off of, to listen to you ramble until you hit that one thing that makes sense. And returning the favor is part of the relationship. 

And that's all I can say on the subject at the moment, but I'd like to hear from you! What makes a good critique in your opinion? Are you looking for a CP? Feel free to tell us about what you're writing and reply to others' comments. You never know where you'll find your perfect match! Can you tell that I love match making? ;)

1 secret replies:

  1. And just for the record, I have since seen Star Wars, and it was pretty okay.