Be aware when asking for critiques

Be aware when asking for critiques

A Story by Kate

Things to watch out for when asking for a read or critique of your story.

A lot of what I term "professional critics" on this site. A lot and you need to watch out for them or at least be specific as to what you want from them when you ask for a read.
Some of them volunteer themselves because they love to tear other's writing, or shall I say less than perfect writing apart. I believe they do this for the sake of their ego--they do this because they like to make themselves look good, or think that it makes them look good.
I made this mistake once, but though it took a while, I finally saw through it.
Case in point or how I found out the hard way.
There was someone doing a lot of critiques, obviously getting a lot of requests for critiques so I asked him to take a look at a story I'd written. What I wanted was his views on my plot and the characters and did they work in context, but fool that I was I did not say so. Or point out that I was weak in the show versus tell area, that I didn't really understand it and had not found any resources to learn about it so I could apply it.
So guess what, the review focused almost entirely on that, that much I remember although I can't remember everything he said because, of course, I deleted it. Who wouldn't?
Being older and smarter now, and still trying to master the "show versus tell" demon, I can, if I remember, be specific about what I want the reviewer to look for. You can tell someone the areas where you know you are weak, but tell them, look, what I am looking for from you is this. And tell them.
Also, another quarrel I have with this person, if I ever run into them again on this site, is boiler plate, cut and paste responses. No no no no no no. That is not what I am looking for, I am not interested in hearing you quote yourself or what you have written. To me it's rude, unless you preface it and say something like, "Here is an article (or whatever) that illustrates what I am talking about." Simple and much more polite. 
Also, this same person got rather what I call personal, sometimes on the verge of polite insult, if there is such a thing. Of all the writing books I have now read no one's gotten personal or talked about how what you're reading hurts your feelings, or whatever it was that was said. No, don't get personal like that, it's not necessary.
Have I received harsh critiques? Yes, of course, some I've even learned from. I've written a couple of people back and said, "Look, I'm really interested in learning about this, can you give me advice?" And yes, few of them even changed their tune. I got advice, lists of names of writing books, and some seemed somewhat chagrined at how they addressed me. This is the old "catching flies with honey" tactic, and it can work.
It's hard to get professional-level writing critiques and advice on writing sites. Used to on Urbis, but Urbis has been dead for a long time. I've run into a few on this site which surprised me but I'm happy to see it. You can read a book and try to apply what you've read, but someone who can critique well is hard to find. Reviews tend to just add strokes, which we all love and some people, especially on Wattpad or Inkitt seem to expect, but that's not what we might need. It's helpful to be told we're doing badly and why.
When you ask for a critique from someone who seems to know what they're doing, learn to be specific. They might be helpful or the kind of person who loves to revel in their "rightness" and tear your writing apart. My advice, if you care to take it, is tell them what you're looking for, what you want them to look at. Feel free to point out where you know you're weak but what you're interested in is actual commentary on your story. This will be much less frustrating for you when they reply back with what they wanted to point out not what it was you really needed from them.

© 2022 Kate

Author's Note

Remarks welcome, as well as shared experiences.

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Added on May 29, 2022
Last Updated on May 29, 2022
Tags: critiquing, critics, writing books



Redmond, WA

I don't like to read poetry, basically I don't like it. As song lyrics, great, but reading poems usually will not happen. I am a terrible reviewer and my readers deserve better. The trouble is that.. more..