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Monday, March 21, 2011

Critiquing

This is a current topic of discussion on several of the writer boards that I frequent.  I personally do quite a bit of review and critique work for other writers.  So much so in the past that I had to cut back on it quite a bit.  I was spending all my free time looking at the work of others and none on my own.  Some people ask how do you do a good review or a good edit or a good critique.  Everyone has different ways that they do it.  I have several rules that I follow.  These are not hard and fast rules for all people, but my own rules that I have set for myself. 

1.                  Remember that you are reviewing someone’s hard work.  It means something to them, and their heart is involved.

2.                  Don’t only focus on the bad stuff.  There has to be good in there somewhere.  Make sure to touch on it as well.  Point it out. 

3.                  Keep it constructive.  Always.

4.                  Be honest, but not hurtful.  If you hate the story, instead of saying that, say what they could do to make it better.

5.                  Remember that it is not your story.  You might have done it differently, but you didn’t write it.  Stick with the edit and the critique. 

6.                  If you aren’t sure about a change make sure to state that you aren’t or even better look it up.

That’s about it, the basics anyway.  Are there any other rules you use that aren’t on my list?  Do you want something in particular when you ask for a review or a critique? 

7 comments:

  1. My tip is to consider what type of critique they want. Line, Beta, etc. Make sure you are both on the same page on what they want. Also, know what your strength is. If you aren't good with grammar - don't offer a line critique. If you don't have the time to edit the entire piece - don't offer a beta/overall critique.

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  2. I'm actually uncomfortable with the term "review". On my blog I post my thoughts about what I read, but it certainly isn't a review. The book could be a marvelous piece of literature yet I didn't enjoy it (as happened before).

    When I write about a book I either didn't like or didn't care about (those are the toughest for me), I always make sure to keep in mind that this book could be someone's life work as you pointed out.

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  3. I like to give reasons for why I think a change is needed. I think it's better to provide an explanation for the person so they aren't simply thinking that you like your way of writing better than theirs.

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  4. To be honest, I have the same feelings as Man of la Book.

    I have usually try to say that my blog is more about my random thoughts on a book than an indepth review.

    Some good points you have made however here!

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  5. My philosphy is to be gentle, but truthful. If I really disliked the story and just don't get it, it's very hard to be truthful and gentle so I try to find something I liked about it. If I think that something needs to be changed, I try to come up with an idea on how to make it better. I try to stay away from critiquing someone else's grammar and punctuation so much because I am definitely no expert with either of those and need help myself!

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  6. I think a good point to add is to address the writing itself, not the author. And try not to dictate. As in: "You should write it like this" VS. "This line might read better like this."

    Good points, Courtney.

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  7. When people review one of my books, I like them to be honest, but not hurtful. If something needs work, tell me. Or suggest some ideas. This also goes the other way. If someone says "it was good", that doesn't help me. I like to know what was good, what they enjoyed, what they'd like to see more of.
    Talia
    http://taliajager.blogspot.com

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