Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to Give a Good Critique (Part II)

Hi folks,

I’ve been very MIA lately. I had pages of thesis due Friday (I submitted 60 of them), and my Teaching Popular Fiction class began last week. Don’t be surprised if, in future, there are posts about teaching.

There isn’t a post about teaching today, though I hope something is learned. Back in March I wrote a post about giving a good critique. I’d like to add to it.

-How not to word a critique—“You need to do the following.”

Even if something would improve a story/fix confusion, starting with the words “you need” is not a good way to convey this. The idea of a critique is not to come off as if you are attacking either the writer or their work. Critiquing, yes. Criticizing, no. To the writer, “you need” says “I know better.” Even “There needs to be” is better. That says “in order for the story to work, from my perspective, the following needs to happen.” Be careful with this, though. Use only when explaining things that have already happened that, as of yet, do not make sense. Do not say it about things that have not happened yet because that is telling the writer how to write. And no one likes that.

-Listen to your critique partners

And remember what they say. If they repeat themselves about a change they are making, don’t say you didn’t hear them or that you didn’t know. On top of this, do not back up your “I didn’t hear/know” with your version of how you want the story to go. That will, in all likelihood, not be received well.

Now, “take these broken wings (lessons?) and learn to fly.”

Thanks for reading, and I should be back to posting more regularly.

@desantismt on Twitter

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