Showing posts with label critiques. Show all posts
Showing posts with label critiques. Show all posts

Gracious Acceptance - 8 Ways to Deal with Critiques.

Last month we saw 10 ways to improve the way we critique. Let's now take a look at the different ways we may respond.

Say you have submitted an article to your critique group, and you've received several responses. How do you react?

Here are eight possible scenarios:

1. "I love it when Jane critiques my work. She enjoys my writing so much she rarely corrects anything."

Jane is not critiquing your work. She's patting you on the back. This is of no value to you as a writer.

Don't you need encouragement? Certainly, but not to this degree, especially from a critique partner. Surely there should be some encouragement in the crit as well? Yes, there should. And hopefully she has given you some along the way. But telling you you're good will not improve your writing.

2. "I dread opening Jim's critiques. They usually resemble a blood bath."

Hmm. It could be that Jim is over heavy with his corrections. It could also be that he's the best critic you have. Don't be put off by the amount of corrections. Look for a bit of encouragement, but definitely look to see if his comments are justifiable. In which case, give thank for his dilligence, and tell him you appreciate his help.

3. "I find Mary's critiques difficult as I don't feel happy with the changes she insists I make."

You don't need to feel happy. You need to see if it improves your writing. If you don't like the changes she suggests, don't follow them. She is not telling you that you must make them. It's not Mary's article, it's yours. Ultimately the acceptance or rejection will be yours. Don't feel you have to follow every suggestion in your critiques. Absolutely not!

4. "I get indignant with Geoff's critiques. I often end up challenging him which leads to a healthy debate."

No, no, no! You should never enter into a debate when someone critiques you work. If you don't understand a comment, by all means ask for clarification so you can be sure what they mean. Then just say "Thank you for your time" and move on. If you agree, follow through. If you don't, disregard what doesn't resonate with you. But do not argue. He will never critique your work again--rightly so! Even trying to explain what you meant to say is not the correct approach. You're not going to be next to your final readers to explain. So if he hasn't got it the first time, perhaps you do need to follow his suggestions.

5. "I get confused when four people tell me to change the same thing, but in different ways."

Of course you do. Take a good look at the comments and decide which suggestions you prefer. Which are closer to what you want to say? When I work through a critique, I do it paragraph by paragraph. I belong to a big critique group and often have 5 or 6 crits of the same article. I look at the first section and check all the comments, then edit accordingly before moving on. Just this last week, I received two suggestions for the same paragraph. I liked them both. Which to take? I copied both sets of comments to my working copy and continued with the article. By the time I reached the end, it was clear which of the two suggestions would work best for me.

6. "It doesn't seem like my article any more, now that I've worked on all the critiques."

This can happen. You've lost your voice. This you definitely don't want to do. Go back to the original and take a fresh look at it. (Never save over your first draft.) Check your critiques again and if necessary start over using less of the suggestions than before. Won't this take a lot of time? Yes. But do you want to be published or don't you?

7. "I often read critique points and choose to ignore the suggestions because I don't agree."

That's your prerogative. Take a good look at what they're saying though, before you decide to ignore them. But let me say it again—it is your article. You know what you want to say. You'll find this especially relevant if you've written in British English for an American market. American spelling, punctuation, grammar, and even words are often different. If only one says, "We would say XXX" and the others don't comment, you're probably safe to leave it alone. But if they all say, "Your comma should go here . . ." listen to them! Don't take the attitude of "I'm writing in British English." If you're writing for an American market, you shouldn't be! Learn from the Americans in your group.

You will always find suggestions you don't like, and that's fine. Analyse what they're saying. Be sure you understand their suggestions. Make sure your work says what you want it to. Then feel free to ignore them and move on. But above all . . .

8. "I accept the critiques with grace and appreciation, even though I may not use all the suggestions." 

The person has taken time off that he or she could have used for their own writing, to help you. Do not argue with them. Do not point out they are wrong. Just accept their suggestions gracefully, and move on. If you don't understand what they mean, by all means ask for a clarification. But appreciate their suggestions, and use what is helpful. Then move on.

Over to you. Any comments, or additional questions you may have in connection with the above? Do you have any examples of times you've reacted in any of the ways mentioned?

Further Reading:
How to Tread Lightly - 10 tips on doing a critique by Shirley Corder.
Critiques are Essential by Karen Cioffi-Ventrice
Finding the Right Critique Group by Linda Moore Kurth



SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on her sojourn in the cancer valley.

Please visit Shirley's Write to inspire and encourage website or at  RiseAndSoar.com, where she writes to inspire and encourage those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or FaceBook

Rejections Lessons


My writing teacher warned me this would happen. One rejection letter after another piled on shelves and shoved into filing cabinets. There's enough paper to cover my office walls--and ceiling and floor and some of the hallway.
 
Well, that's one solution.
 
There has to be more to the rejection letter than dust collector and object of scorn. Most writers will say that the best way to handle rejection letters is to read them, file them, and send the rejected piece off to someone else as soon as possible. It's not bad advice, but it's not good enough.
 
Take a long, hard look at that letter. Has the editor tossed you a crumb of hope? Given you even the slightest chance to hang on to your confidence and self-respect?
 
Yes, it's a form letter--the same terse, soulless letter they send to every writer who doesn't make the grade--but what else? Amongst all those stiffly typed words, is anything other than the signature handwritten? Quite likely. Editors like to add quick notes to writers who show some promise. If you can decipher the scrawl--editors are as inscrutable as doctors when it comes to penmanship--pay attention to the words. If you're lucky, the editor will compliment one or more aspects of your story--then tell you exactly where he or she thinks you went wrong.
 
Take the comments seriously, but don't take them to heart--unless they all start saying the same things. If nine out of ten editors say your ending falls flat, it probably does. Don't sulk. Don't get angry. Fire up your computer (or uncap you pen) and get back to the business of writing. Tuck your original version away--just in case--and start making changes. Use the suggestions you like. Dream up a few of your own. Throw away the rest. After all, it's still your story. You can only make so many changes based on outside commentary before it becomes someone else's story.
 
Thicken your skin by joining a writers' workshop (either online or in person). Everyone submits their work for critique. It won't take long for you to realize that a single story can generate critiques that run the gamut from "this is absolutely wonderful" to "better luck next time."
 
Whether you're hearing from fellow writers or detached editors, don't take the comments personally. Except in rare cases, critiques are aimed at the story, not at the writer.
 
Finally, accept the fact that--for most of us--the rejections will far outweigh any successes. Writing is a subjective art form. Standards of quality shift from person to person and from moment to moment.
 
Remain as true as possible to your original vision. Somewhere amidst all those publications is an editor who sees life as you do--or at least appreciates the way you present your case.
 
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Betty Dobson is an award-winning writer of short fiction, essays and poetry. She also writes newspaper and magazine articles but is still waiting for those awards to materialize. In the meantime, she continues to run InkSpotter Publishing, which is always open to submissions and queries.

The Benefits of Belonging to a Writing Group


Do you belong to a writing group? If you do then you may know the benefits of being part of a group of people with the same goals as yourself. If you haven't thought about the need to become a member of a group you might consider these benefits.
  • Writing is a solitary activity and belonging to a group forces you to relate to real people rather than the characters in your mind. Whether it is in person, by an online web cam, or within an online group who email back and forth, it will help keep your mind and your writing fresh.  You will gain feedback from a real person and return your opinions in an exchange that will help you improve as a writer. It will give you  a sense of belonging to these members and help you to be accountable for your writing and your goals.
  • An active writing group can offer critiques and suggestions when your manuscript seems to stall. An outsider can give an objective view of what is taking place in the story and shed light on making your characters come alive.
  • Being in an active and positive writing group is a way to network, find writing connections, and share contacts in the publishing world.
  • A writing group can help market your work and in return you will do the same. It is a win win for all active members and can lead to collaboration on future projects.
Making the most of a writing group is a big responsibility but well worth the effort. Be active, do your part to critique and participate in a timely manner, be respectful of the other members and their work, and share in promoting and networking. Keep communication open. Be honest if you cannot uphold your responsibility for a period of time and be dependable. Your commitment will ensure the success for all group members and that can only improve your chances for writing success.

Terri Forehand- Author of The Cancer Prayer Book (http://www.dreamwordspublishing.com/ )
http://terri-forehand.blogspot.com/
http://thecancerprayerbook.blogspot.com/

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