I hope you enjoy this post. Emma Gitani is a member of several of the same writing groups as me, and she shared this with us today. It’s invaluable advice, especially to those of us who occasionally allow our ego to make the decisions for us…
I belong to many writing groups. A critique group is different from a normal room. It is a place to post your draft for honest feedback (not troll comments). Here’s the thing. A critique is supposed to catch your boo-boos in writing, but more importantly, it is about story structure and character development. Early on in my progression, I realized I posted for critique too early. Not self-editing before I submitted my wonderful story because it was *wonderful*. I have a background in writing and editing technical documents. I know grammar and I’m a good speller. Wow, my arrogance still makes me laugh.
I received a true, honest critique for this *amazing* story of 750 words. The review was a 1,500-word response in polite but straightforward language. I shut down my computer and stewed for two days. Almost in tears, ready to give up because I was so wrong. I was not a good writer…
A couple of days later, I opened my email and story, and went through the review. It was spot on. I used too many adverbs, my tense shifts were huge, and I had a horrible habit of using passive voice.
After this experience, I have made some rules for myself before posting.
1. Read it (out loud)
2. Self-edit looking for my problem areas (gerunds, tense shifts…)
4. Then I post (there will still be problems because I don’t know everything)
My writing has improved tremendously (adverb intended) from self-editing and analyzing others’ works.
When receiving a critique do not.
1. Argue with the critique
2. Defend your decisions to break rules (can’t break a rule if you don’t understand it)
3. Make excuses for your error
When receiving a critique do:
1. Thank the person for their time
2. Ask questions to clarify if needed
3. Thank the person for their time