I was not going to read my critique until I saw your name on it and knew that it would be helpful without making me burst into tears. Your ideas were extremely helpful and I don’t know if we are on the same wavelength (dangerous for you) or not but I instantly got the point of all your suggestions and think they will improve the chapter a lot, especially the part about where the chapter should end, and about how I should describe the sister and the jealousy thing.
I also want to thank you because your critique was in no way cursory and I can tell you spent a lot of time and thought on it. And most of all thanks for not making me cry.
Dear Aspiring Author,
Good, then I did it right.
There is one golden rule about writing a critique, and that is, if you are a wordsmith, make sure your audience receives the message you intended to send. Anybody can say something needs to be improved; not everyone can explain what to change or make suggestions that might be better. It’s awesome when people do that for me, even if I can’t use the suggestion. It helps me get to a solution by seeing examples of the right direction.
A few other things to remember (and some of you have seen these before):
If a crit can’t deliver their message without coming off as harsh, consider why they are even doing it – and whether their input is worth receiving. Sometimes it’s not. I don’t mean we need to sugar coat things; I mean we can use the written word to inspire people to become better writers, or we can use it to degrade and humiliate them. I think you know which way I roll on that one.
Look for the constructive things in what the critique says, even if the message was delivered poorly. But there will be a fair amount to disregard altogether.
When it comes to crits, many hate anything with unique style, and some of the harshest critics can’t assemble an interesting story. Your unique style is your voice. You may need to rein it in or refine it, but never lose it. It’s what makes you YOU, and you’re kinda awesome.
When you read a critique of your story, read it in combination with other critiques. If three critiques all point to the same thing as a problem, consider addressing at it. Don’t change anything based on just one crit.
Look for people who want to help you improve. They’re awesome! That doesn’t mean to seek out fans or to make friends, because that tends to lead to supportive sounding crits that mean well but aren’t necessarily truthful or helpful. Find writers who get it, and read their stuff. Look at their other critiques. Develop a network through correspondence with them and look to make better stories all the time.
In the end, succeed or fail, you own your stories. Own them proudly. Most people would love to do what you’ve done. That makes you kinda awesome, too.
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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.