My Two Cents Worth On CritiqueA Lesson by Feary
Everyone will face it. Why not learn about it?
Critique is something every writer will face- sooner or later. Heck, critique is something everyone will face, no matter what they do!
That's fact. But what is critique?
Google's definition: A detailed analysis and assessment of something, esp. a literary, philosophical, or political theory.
To keep it simple, critique is a more detailed comment on goods, bads, and maybe's of the piece. It is not being rude, it is not being mean- it's purpose is to help, and that only.
But, before I move onto my opinion on critique, I need to get organized. Below is my list of good critiques, bad critiques, good writer responses, and bad. 3 being worst, 1 being best.
Three: "wow this is so stupid y u even a writer u should just die in a hole" Okay. This isn't even critique anymore, it's bullying! They rudely insulted the writing, without giving reasons why or suggestions, and then they insulted the writer her/himself- usually critique is commenting on the writing, not the writer. This shows both.
Two: "This is a poorly developed piece. The pacing is wrong, the characters are barely even 1D, and grammar needs major improvement. And the dialogue is stiff. Nice try, but next time make sure it's perfect before you show it." This is getting more into what critique actually stands for...but it's still terribly bad. You're wording everything bluntly, like it is fact. You still did not help the writer in any way, and you also brought them down.
One: "This is such an interesting piece. You certainly have potential hidden in there somewhere. And the idea seems so action-packed. However, the dialogue seems a bit...unrealistic. Nobody tells straight out what their plan to kill someone is, right? Maybe try listening in on conversations outside- you can get a nice perspecive..." I'm not finishing this one because it would be too long, but this is definitely one of the best critique you can find. You kindly say good parts, and when nearing the improvements you say it kindly, in an opinion, and you actually say what to do that will help them.
See, this is what I think you need for a good critique that won't hurt the author:
>>>Say good pointers as well as bad
>>>Say it kindly- in fact, pretend you're a teacher talking to a kindergartener. I'm not saying writers are that sensitive, but you need to be cautious as so to not trigger any warning signs.
>>>Clearly point out that what you're saying is an opinion. Even if you're a best selling author that also happens to be an amazing editor, what you say is just your opinion.
>>>You suggest something that will actually help them improve, not just standing on the side thinking you're right, but wondering how the heck their going to do it.
>>>No matter what the reaction, you are always civil and kind.
Three: "u should be nice!! im only 13 after all, and that was so mean! and anyways i know my writing is perfect so shut up!!" Even when they are faced with the best critique ever (see above), they are defensive, rude, and most of all: think their writing is good enough. Every single piece can improve. NEVER say you have amazing talent unless you can prove it.
Two: "im only 13, give me a break. my writing is good enough, and i like it, so don't say its bad" This is better...at least the writer doesn't get into a fit and start insulting the criticizer, but still: they defended themselves and said their writing was good. And they had no evidence as well except for their own little minds loving every single word they write.
One: "Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate it. However, I'm not really looking for critiques at the moment, I just wanted to share this piece." Now this is what we're talking about. The writer is civilized, and they would thank the criticizer even if they don't deserve thanks. This One is what they would say even if they were facing the worst critique, a Three.
This is what I think you should do in order to not get into a fight with the reader:
>>>Don't be defensive. It annoys the criticizer and doesn't help you as a writer.
>>>Be kind and civil. Don't start arguments no matter what. If you really don't like the comment, delete it and push it away from your mind.
>>>Politeness is key.
Now we can go on. Let's first backtrack back to the purpose of critique. It is used to only help. If you find a comment discourages you or does not help you at all, delete it and ignore it- it means nothing to you and never should. Also, remember that they are criticizing the piece, not you.
But if a critique is kind, the least you can do is know that they are only trying to help. Don't argue with them 'till sundown- try to understand. (unless if it's of course a Three).
And critique is there for a reason. If you're that defensive and that full of yourself, critique will never help, your writing will never improve, because you think you're All-Mighty and can beat Shakespeare. Keep an open mind to the critique you receive- don't put up an ignorant wall.
But at the same time, know that those critiques are just one reader's opinion and one alone. Take the critique into consideration, but if you still like the way it is, don't change it. However, if multiple people comment on one particular thing, you should probably change it.
Hey, majority rules.
In order to be a good criticizer, you must say good pointers as well as bad, say it kindly, know what you're saying is an opinion, don't get into fights with writers, and write something that will actually help them.
And for us writers....well....
Take the critique into consideration, but know that you aren't forced to change it, and they are criticizing the piece, not you (majority should still win though).
Added on March 29, 2013
Last Updated on March 29, 2013
AboutI am unique, that is all I will say.