Neil Gaiman on critiques


There is a wonderful quote from Neil Gaiman about critiques:  When people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

He’s right, hit the nail smack on its head. When a reader is confused about something you wrote, for whatever reason, it is imperative to take a hard look at your writing. You need to figure out how to fix it.

Sometimes all you need is the simplest of changes. Once for me it meant the switching between using the word THE and the word A. Sometimes it means reworking whole chapters. Occasionally it may mean taking a hard, unpleasant look at your plot.

But lest you think I agree with him totally, I don’t. I wish to modify the second part of his premise to: when people tell you what is wrong and how to fix it, they could be wrong.  

This is a reminder so you don’t ignore all your critiques, his advice, like all advice, isn’t right all the time. Sometimes your critiquers do know what is wrong and how to fix it.

That doesn’t mean that you must take their way of addressing the problem. It means you should seriously consider their  comments and make very sure their suggestions fit with your characters, your style of writing, your story.

Otherwise you could end up writing their story, with their characters and their style. So while it is important to listen, to hear and consider a critique. It is also important to remember whose story it is.

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~ by Gwen Dandridge on February 28, 2010.

3 Responses to “Neil Gaiman on critiques”

  1. Excellent points, Gwen. And you should know – you’re a master critiquer yourself!

  2. Thanks Sherrie, but I actually defer to you as a critiquer.

  3. Great advice! Thanks for sharing.

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