Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June IWSG: 5 Tips on How & When to Critique Other Writers

1.) Do Unto Others...

Critique other writers how you'd like to be critiqued. Simple. 

2.) It's Not Open Season...

Whatever you do, please don't open fire a critique at an unsuspecting writer. At a table full of other writers having lunch, it's not okay to clank your glass with your fork, announcing that the writer sitting across from you has a typo in her published book or story. 

3.)  Don't Slap Someone Across the Cheek Unless They Ask For it...

Calling you the b-word for no reason deserves a whack. A writer making an honest mistake, does not. Yes, mistakes need to be corrected, but for us writers, it needs to be done in a kind & gentle fashion. Thick skin takes time to grow. Unexpected slapping is not okay.

4.) There is a Time & Place...

Critique sessions are an excellent place to give constructive criticism. I've been to several open, gentle critiques and they generally work well. But one on one critique sessions work even better. The receiving writer will be less defensive (And we're always defensive, even if just a little.) if approached alone.

5.) Play Nice...

This one goes along with tip # 4. Remember playground rules. It's not okay to call the writer out on the grass, in front of all the other kids, and stick your tongue out w/ a "Na-na na-na, boo-boo!" and tell them all the things wrong with their story. It's mean and ugly, and we know better.

Here's a great article I read yesterday. Most of the critiquing advice out there is plain common sense. Think before you speak. As you may realize from the mood of my post, I recently had an interesting situation happen to me.

This weekend, I'm attending a SCBWI "Critiquenic" in Austin, TX. I'm looking forward to the event dedicated to teaching writers how to critique and why it's so beneficial. 

If you're interested in joining the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex Cavanaugh. We meet through our blogs on the 1st Wednesday of the month for support and camaraderie.

This week, I'm borrowing my good blog buddy & fellow Insecure Writer's sign-off tag line. Randi Lee, every time I read your last line, I smile. Today, it really resonates with me. Hope you don't mind. ;)

"Stay classy, blog-o-sphere!"


31 comments:

  1. Excellent advice! We wouldn't want someone to do any of that to us, right?

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  2. Very good advice. I've learned as I've gone from others how to do it better. I'm afraid my first attempts both at being a CP and having one might not have been very positive.

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    1. Julie, we've probably all done things we're not proud of as critiquers. It's a learning process, always evolving, improving.

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  3. Great advice. I like that you said it takes time to develop that thick skin. How far along a writer is should also determine how we critique them. :)

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    1. Excellent point, Rachel. I just thought about that as I read Julie's comment above. Maybe as we mature as writers, we also mature as critiquers. Giving someone harsh feedback at inappropriate times may show our own lack of maturity in the writing process. I feel better already. :)

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  4. This is an excellent post, one that will help a lot of reviewers and writers alike!

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  5. Hi, Candilynn,

    I have critiqued many a novel and LIKE you say, be kind and THINK before you write. I found that pointing out good things with the writing is also beneficial. It gives the writer a positive nudge in the right direction on HOW to follow through with the not so great parts ...

    Also, giving examples is very helpful. Sometimes a few words mixed around can really pump up a sentence to shine.

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    1. What an excellent addition to the tips, Michael. Positive feedback before the constructive, helpful advice. I agree.

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  6. I always wonder how writers can bear pulling apart other writers' work. I always imagine them doing the same to me. I would never critique someone else's work in a negative way, there's no need for it.

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    1. I don't understand it either, Laura. Thanks for the visit!

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  7. I can't tell you on how many levels I love this post. Thank you!

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    1. Wow, thank you, Karen. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :)

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  8. Michael, you're right, give examples. Telling someone their character sounds feminine, with no suggests, makes it sound like an insult.

    Great points, Candilynn!

    Looking forward to learning more from your conference!

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  9. Great rules for critiquing.

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I'll be making my rounds this evening and tomorrow. I appreciate your visit. :)

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  10. Right. We don't want feedback unless we ask for it, even then it should be restricted to crit meetings only. And just because someone is your critique partner doesn't mean they can critique us outside the appointed time.

    Great rules to live by. :)

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    1. I appreciate your thoughts. There's a time and a place.

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  11. Excellent post! So very true.

    IWSG# 123, until Alex culls the list again. :)

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  12. I usually have no trouble with CPs, betas, or forum members who want crits from me. But every once in a while I find one who doesn't just say thanks and go their way, but tries to get into a debate with me about how I'm wrong and they're right. So I don't see many problems with misbehaving critters; I see problems with misbehaving crittees! lol

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  13. Excellent tips, Candi. I try to incorporate them into my own critiquing or betaing.

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  14. @Melissa, thanks! I'm on my way to pop in to say hello. :)
    @Lexa, lol!
    @Clare, thanks! Hope all is well!

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  15. Melissa, just read your post. Interesting about the "no reply-comment" blogger thing. Hmm. So I'm trying it out with my own comment. We'll see...

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    1. Looks like I am. :( I'll follow the link you provided and try and fix it. Thanks!

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    2. Woohoo. At least my link helped someone. :)

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  16. Wow, I can't even imagine critiquing someone unless they expressly ask for comments. These are great suggestions, and especially important when critiquing someone for the very first time. Once a rapport has been established some of these rules can probably be bent a little, but still never, never in front of an audience. Like I said, wow!
    I think behavior like that says more about the critter's social ineptness than the crittee's writing.

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    1. I just had a conversation yesterday about your last comment. After our discussion, I have to agree with you. Thanks for your visit, Kirsten. :)

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  17. Candilynn, you are ALWAYS classy :D In the spirit of IWSG I just want to say thank you for always supporting me. You're a great asset to the writing community, and a great pal! Next, stellar post! Completely agree with you about firing your guns before someone asks you to shoot. I think a lot of people like to flex their "grammar/plot bunny/general-use-of-the-written-word" muscles whenever they can, and that doesn't make for a very good critic. It makes for someone who needs to take a step back and sort out their priorities. You hit the nail on the head with this one!

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  18. I love it how most of what we do can usually come back to playground rules. Unsuspecting name calling and slapping is never classy. And you always are! :) Hope you had fun at the critiquenic!

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