Advice Gone Bad

When you ask for feed back or a critique what do you normally get in response?

I think some people forget what a critique is. Is the character hard to like up front? Well okay, but the question should be does something develop that makes the heroine likeable later or maybe should something be added? Did you find word misuses or grammar issues? Great, point out the issues, but you probably don’t have to find each one unless you are being paid or have enough time.

For those in a critique group do you critique an entire manuscript or simply excerpts that the author has chosen as problem areas? Plot issues are a great piece of advice but unless you’re reading the entire manuscript this might not be something you should comment on.  Remember to help the writer improve the story, don’t try to rewrite it in your own words.

Not everyone can edit or critique regardless if they love to read or write.  Choosing people to help you can be very tricky.  I had a critique group that had potential. The issue was that one lady was more advanced in her career which should have been helpful to us, but apparently we were of no importance to her. Another lady simply LOVED everything.  It was a nice ego boost but wasn’t helping anyone grow as a writer.  A third was helpful and I still talk to this person, but one person isn’t going to catch everything.  I belong to a local writers group and the thing is, that  not everyone is in the same place.  In fact most are older, 50+, just starting out because they now have the time. That isn’t my target audience.

What advice do you take?  What do you ignore.  How did you find the group you trust?

I take what I can out of each conversation and I just make sure to not let any scathing reviews hurt me.  Bruises are inevitable, but you just brush it off and move on.

For those with kids or dogs, writing advice is closely related to that of unsolicited parenting advice.  Annoying, and inevitable, and generally not helpful.  One in awhile those someone says something that makes your writing just a little bit better.

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6 thoughts on “Advice Gone Bad

  1. Katherine Checkley says:

    Hi Michelle. I’ve been with the same group since 2007, and it’s always worked great for me. There’s been various changes in the group over the years, and I even took a two-year hiatus at one point. I got my graduate degree in creative writing, so for a time my classmates were my critique group. I’ve also attended seminars, workshops, getaways, etc.

    As far as critique groups go, I like when they give me the “big picture.” I’m with you…trying to reword my text doesn’t fly with me. Generally speaking, in the initial drafts, tell me about the plot, characterization, tension, etc. I’ll deal with the line by line later.

    • M. Ziegler says:

      I’m impressed you’re group has lasted. My group was good for two years and then just stopped. I can’t say it was a disaster though.

      I love that you’re idea of a critique is how I think. I’m g lad you have a group that works for you.

  2. Paul says:

    We usually do one to three chapters at a time, depending on length. We usually mark the grammar stuff we find, but only discuss in person the bigger picture stuff. Not stuff that is wrong, though. We also let the author know what is good too.

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