The Art of Critiquing

If you’re a writer, you know that critiques are essential. Having a fresh pair of eyes reading your work helps pick up plot holes and grammar mistakes. They can point out when something doesn’t make sense, even if in your mind it does. It’s not that they’re trying to be mean. No, they want to help you make your work the best that it can be.

I’m part of a large critique group that meets once a month and you get to submit every few moths. I also have a smaller online group where we all send our work in each month, as well as another online group where we can submit whenever the mood strikes us. I also have a few critique partners.

So, for the most part I have a lot of eyes that go over my work. But with contests coming up, I started switching my pitch and first 250 of ELEMENTAL with other writers. Sounds great, right? Well, the other day a girl I was switching with messaged me back with my critique. In the forward message she said she had a lot of comments because she didn’t like my premise of a demon-fighting witch. She claimed that in literature most witches are on the same side as demons. So, I bit my tongue and read her comments. My reaction:
Weasley twins 2
(Yes, the Weasley’s will be backing me up.)

It’s not that I’m upset that she didn’t like it. I know that people have different opinions. It’s okay. I’ve gotten enough praise from my large critique group to know it’s a good story, even if the genre is a hard sale. But that’s not what the critique is supposed to be.

When you critique a work, you are looking for discrepancies in the writing. Your critique should be bias, well not totally bias. It is okay to let someone know if you like it or not. But your critique isn’t supposed to be based on that.

I went through her comments, and changed the places where she mentioned that I had telling verse showing. Those comments are helpful and made my scene better. So, I sent it back to her. She replied saying that she didn’t know why I sent it to her because she was just going to comment on parts she didn’t like.

Again, that’s not what you’re supposed to do. When you write a critique, you go over the mistakes you found, but you also mention what you like. If the writer has improved in their skills. If there are lines you were captivated by. If you would read on. A critique is not to tear someone down, but to build them up and help them become an amazing writer.

I’m fortunate enough to have met some amazing people through this process. I’ve grown as a writer since I started, and I have to place credit on my critique partners and the groups. A constructive critique creates a better writer, a negative one makes a writer stubborn. Just remember that when you are asked to look at someone’s work.


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