Critiquing ~ Weighing the Benefits

Welcome to my first personal blog post.
Thank you for stopping by. My topic today is Critiquing. What a difference the process has made to me and in the quality of my writing.
Like a lot of writers, I tend to be a little introverted, well actually, I’m a cave dweller at heart. But that’s a subject for another day. It took awhile before I was brave enough to share my work with others.  No matter how easy some make it out to be, it is scary that first time to open yourself up to criticism.
In the beginning, your confidence is already in tatters, if you’re like most of us with an abundance of rejection letters in our writing files. The last thing you need is to be told all the things that are wrong with your prose.
Having an open mind, viewing the remarks on a professional level rather than taking them personally, and partnering with the right group of people can make the experience of critiquing very rewarding.
There are different approaches, and some just do not work for all people. Personally, I like critique groups, as opposed to individual partners.
Usually, there are a few in the group who enjoy sharing their work with each other, and often participate on the side. I enjoy that, too.
The advantage of being part of a group, in my opinion, is that you don’t have to feel guilty if you’re too busy to participate. There are others who can fill the void when you have to bow out.
In a well-organized critique group there are usually a variety of skill levels, with experience in different aspects of the process.  Everyone brings something to the table that can benefit their fellow critique partners.
Admittedly, not all critique sessions are as beneficial as others for a variety of reasons. It could be that the person giving your critique is less experienced. Or, she might not be keen on your genre. Or, they may just have a different approach to storytelling. Whatever the reason for a less than ideal critique session, it helps to have the attitude of taking the bad with the good.
In my opinion, the benefits outweigh an occasional negative experience. And sometimes your story just sucks. It’s good to find that out early on, before wasting more time trying to bring to life a dead horse.  Yes, I have many dead stories, along with those dreaded rejection letters, filling up my writing files, too.
Even if someone less experienced performs your critique, we are all readers. It doesn’t hurt to get an opinion from someone who reads the kind of stories you write. After all, that’s why we do this, I think. We want our readers coming back for more.
Please share your opinions on critiquing. Do you find it helpful? What kind of setting works for you? Do you have any advice to offer your fellow writers?
Thank you again for stopping by.
Best Wishes and happy critiquing! Joyce
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34 Responses to Critiquing ~ Weighing the Benefits

  1. Carly Carson says:

    Hi Joyce,

    I have mixed feelings about crit groups. You can get excellent feedback (DD’s group). I’ve had 3 critters there say the same exact thing about my entry. Then you know it has to be changed.

    Or you can get Person A saying I love line A and Person B saying, Get rid of line A. Leaving you nothing but confused. So, like anything else, you have to sort the good from the bad. Kind of like contests.

    The blog is pretty and restful.

    • Joyce says:

      Thanks, Carly, for commenting. I know what you mean. I’ve had the same experience. I’ve even changed something because it had been the opinion of more than one critiquer, but when going through my publisher’s edits the professional editor suggested changing it to exactly the way I had it written before making the critiquer’s suggested change.

      That’s when I realized the story belongs to the writer and critiquing is merely a tool, but should never override an author’s gut feeling. In my opinion. LOL

    • Joyce says:

      Oh, and thanks you for the compliment regarding the look of my site. *smile*

  2. great first blog Joyce. congrats on taking the plunge. and remember content is king – not the bells and whistles.

  3. Excellent post, Joyce!

    Critiques are a sticky wicket for me. I think they can be invaluable in the development of a story, but I think at times they mess with a writer’s style. I went through a phase where I was too invested in the ‘rules’ and the opinions of people critquing my work to let my own voice shine through. I think this is something each writer struggles with at some time.

    That being said, I have never written a story that was not improved by comments made in a critique. Whether taken in a group setting or individually, honest feedback is invaluable – so is the author’s gut instinct. The trick is finding the balance.

    Congratulations on a successful 2011 and all the best in 2012!

    Margaret

  4. Gale Stanley says:

    Joyce, the blog looks great and I enjoyed the post. Critiques are a necessary part of the process. We develop a tough hide early on…

    • Joyce says:

      Definitely true, Gale. I guess we all have shed a few tears, but eventually it gets easier. And, if we can step back and be objective, we might actually learn something. LOL

  5. Lia Davis says:

    Great post! I belong to a great online critique group and have learned so much from everyone. I too was very nerves about sharing my work with others at first. I also was nerves about giving crits at first because I didn’t think I knew enough about writing — being a very inexperienced and a new writer at the time — to give anyone advice. But I’m glad I did it. I just signed my first contract.

    Love the site! It’s beautiful.

  6. Ella Quinn says:

    Very nice blog. I agree with you absolutely about critiques.

  7. Hi Joyce, nice blog and a good topic to start off with. I love critique groups, but that could be because I’ve never had a single critique partner. I like have many opinions and picking through what works for me and what doesn’t. In the end, it’s your story and you have to go with what feels right to you. Great job! I would love if you could take a look at my blog site too and leave a comment:-)

  8. Casea Major says:

    Joyce – You are right. Critique groups are the best. I belong to a wonderful crit group I found last year and because of the help and hand-holding of several great partners my work has come a long, long way. Critiquing others as well as receiveing critiques is the single most important reason I was published after only four months of writing. I take my crits very seriously both giving and receiving. Everyone has something of value to share if they take the time to do a proper critique. No not everyone is at the same skill level or has the same style or enjoys the same genre. But if someone makes a comment, I can generally find value somewhere in it.

    That being said, perspective is everything. You know your own work, voice and style better than anyone. And you have to learn to weigh what others say vs. what you want to say. It’s a fine line and takes some practice. But in the end the balance between the two is what brings about a winning MS. My motto is “If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a crit group to write a novel.”

    Great first post, Joyce! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Madison says:

    You and I have belonged to the same on-line critique group for a couple of years now, (as well as a few others who commented here today – waving at MK and Gale), and I think all of us can tell you, critiquing is vital. We need that second or third set of eyes to see what we can’t because we’re too close. What is crystal clear to us has others scratching their head saying, “huh?”.
    Good luck with your blog. Congratulations on your releases, one which I know for sure I critiqued 🙂

    • Joyce says:

      Thank you, Madison, for stopping by and commenting. And, yes, your critiques have been priceless. You have a good eye for detail and have helped me a lot over the past couple of years that we’ve partnered. I appreciate you and wish you many sales of your own in 2012!

  10. Marika Weber says:

    I like critique groups, too. I like hearing it from more than one person.

    Great blog and website. 🙂

    Marika

  11. Marika Weber says:

    Okay, one thing I noticed is that when you comment, you don’t have the button to receive comment updates. 🙂 Just a suggestion.

    • Joyce says:

      Oh, shoot! Wonder how I add that? Ugh! I’ll have to dig some more. And I thought I was doing so good. Just goes to show, there’s always more to learn.

  12. Jenna Jaxon says:

    Great first post, Joyce.

    I found a wonderful on-line crit group a year ago and they have made all the difference in my writing. Like Casea, I believe they were instrumental in getting my work published. I have to have several other pairs of eyes on my work because I am very blind to certain important things–like motivation! I have it up here in my head, but have to be reminded to put it on the page! LOL So my vote goes to crit partners or crit groups. A most invaluable part of the writing process. 🙂

    • Joyce says:

      I know what you mean. I’m a member of a couple groups, both really good, but with different structures. One meets a couple of times a month, the other lets you post pages anytime, and pull pages of others to critique. And then, I have a few fellow writers who we swap pages occasionally or when needed. I like them all and they’ve helped me a lot, too. It’s almost like gaining a community of friends to share mutual hopes and dreams. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Best to you in 2012.

  13. Lisa Kumar says:

    Great first post, Joyce! Like you, I think critiquing is invaluable. In my writing, I know the story and characters so well that I sometimes forget to reflect that on the page. Why can’t everyone be mind readers, lol?

    I’ve also found that critiquing other people’s work has helped me tremendously as a writer. What is so apparent in their writing–the good, the bad, and everything in-between–is there in my writing to some degree. I just can’t recognize it so readily in mine. Every crit is really a learning experience for me, no matter if I’m the one critiquing or receiving the critique.

    • Joyce says:

      Thank you, Lisa, for stopping by and leaving a comment. I agree with you, every critique provides a learning experience. Even though I have a long way to go, I know my writing has improved since working with critique partners. Wishing you much success with your writing in 2012.

  14. Hi Joyce,

    I like your blog its has a pretty back ground. I found that a light background and dark font is easy on the eyes and this blog is very easy on the eyes.

    I have been in four critique groups and found most to be valuable to my writing processes. So far Roses is the best. Having several eyes help to catch what I miss is great. The people there helpful and encourage me to be a better writer. And the different levels of experience brings more to the table.

    I feel like I’ve become a better writer because of my critique group. 🙂

    Janice~

    • Joyce Palmer says:

      Thank you, Janice, for stopping by and commenting. I like the Roses group too. Lots of experienced writers. I enjoy critiquing with you. Best regards for 2012.

  15. Calisa Rhose says:

    I love every one of my cps, Joyce. I’m in two groups and each offers different areas of help in a crit.

    Nice site, great topic!

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