More Talk about Critiques


In my mind, there is a difference between the feedback you get from a writing class and your personal critique group.  Both are valuable. In a writing class, you can get twenty or thirty difference perspectives on your writing from people of all ages and backgrounds.

These are people who don’t know you well, who may write regularly or not at all or who are just beginning. Their insight can be informative and very eye-opening. Listen to them. Figure out which ones have the greatest insight into other’s writing and hear what they have to say. From this group you can sometimes see how a reader will view your work. That’s a valuable lesson. But, as I alluded to in a previous post, also know this data may be flawed.

People sometimes just want to say something to say something, to look cool. Or the opposite often happens. The group can’t bear to hurt your feelings. Just take in the information, watch their faces, listen to what is not being said. Do they laugh at the appropriate times? Does the group seem restless when you read? Use your eyes as well as your ears and become a better writer.

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~ by Gwen Dandridge on January 21, 2010.

10 Responses to “More Talk about Critiques”

  1. Great advice Gwen! Even a comment that seems “off-center” at the time may actually be a great suggestion once you’re home and reviewing the comments in the quiet of your office

  2. Thanks Alexis. I think we all need that time to fully absorb criticism. It isn’t easy sometimes.

  3. I’m feeling that right now with my online writing class. It’s interesting trying to figure out which opinions I trust the most.

  4. It’s hard itn’t it? You want to believe the good news and ignore the bad and it just isn’t that simple when you are dealing with your sorting through your own filters and others.

    It took me so many times as I was writing ‘Lady and the Tower’ to drop the descriptions down in the early chapter. I would get feedback that it was lovely and then feedback that it was too much. I’d edit out a line or so terribly proud of myself. I finally bit the bullet and wiped a bunch out. It is still flowery.

  5. Very good advice. Listen to what is NOT being said. I also agree w/Alexis, and I keep those comments that don’t make sense to me at the time on file. Often, I can absorb them better later.

  6. It’s interesting to watch a group during a reading. It is so telling.

  7. I find that even with my own critique group, which is full of veteran writers, I throw out half of their feedback. Being in a group forces me to write…that’s the main thing…I know we’ll all find our way just by taking part and meeting regularly.

  8. It kind of depends for me. Sometimes everything is useful and other times not as much. All times I’m grateful for their input.

  9. Nice blog, Gwen. Are you currently enrolled in creative writing classes?

    • I always take Anne Lowenkopf’s Adult Ed class on Novel Writing. I also try to take a City College advanced creative writing class whenever I can.

      Plus, of course, I have two critique groups I’m in. An ‘adult’ group and an SCBWI people group. Both are wonderful.

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