Receiving a Critique: What Can YOU Do?
You’ve all heard the duct-tape threat; it will be used on any writer who interrupts, defends, or argues in response to a critique. I don’t go QUITE that far. It is important, though, to give the critiquer the same respect (by listening & taking notes) that they have given to reading your work and writing out their feedback.
- Ask questions.
I know. I just said not to interrupt, and I’m sticking to that. Write the question down and wait until the critiquers are done talking. You might hear the answer you need, without having to ask. And if you’re truly confused, raise your hand. Ask and be answered, then go back to step 1–listening.
Spend time with the feedback you get and consider each point. Yes, you know your project very well, but you don’t know it perfectly. Fresh eyes, from a strong reader, can provide a solution to the problem you’ve been wrestling with or send your project in a new, brilliant direction. Just because an idea doesn’t resonate with you the first time you hear it, take note and give that idea full consideration when you go over the critique.
I know. Of course, revise. But with the critique pages at your side. Look at each comment your critiquers have made and mentally lay that comment aside your project. Does it have validity? Will it improve the writing or the overall book? Is it possible, even if the critiquer’s feedback seems off, that the passage they pointed to is having a problem? And really, really analyze the big critique elements–plot, character, structure, voice. This is what you’ve asked your critique partners to do: dig deep into your project and help you see the best vision for it. You asked, they gave. Now use it.
Yes, of course, my list assumes that you are working with supportive, encouraging, and skilled critiquers. That’s my wish for you, and that’s a big goal you should be shooting for. You should also, though, be remembering your part of the whole, and making sure you’re shouldering that commitment.