Wondering about critiques?
If you’re wondering about critiques (how do I do them? what can I learn from them?) go to the Novel Journey blog and check out some of the first chapter critiques they’ve done. You’ll get a great idea of both how to do a critique (things to look for, input to give, etc.) and what you can learn from reading a critique of someone else’s writing. Mistakes are mistakes and we all make them. If one writer makes a certain mistake, chances are, somewhere along the way, I’ve made it too.
One word about critiques. I’m not a hundred percent sold on them. I think they can be very subjective and opinionated (which I think most critiquers will agree with and tag on a disclaimer “This is just my opinion, take it for what it’s worth”). What one reader finds worthy of critiquing and commenting on, another may find totally fine. Now, obviously there are mechanical problems, POV problems, action/pacing problems that are clear as water and need to be mentioned. But I find some critiquers get crazy with the red pen and start inserting their opinions everywhere. Let’s face it, all of us could critique Jack London or Ernest Hemingway and find lots of things to comment on, but would it be justified? Probably not. Just us throwing around our opinion.
On the other hand, it’s very valuable to get someone else’s view of your story, what works, what doesn’t, where the action slows, what’s unnecessary, what should be cut. But remember, it’s just their view. One reader may critique your manuscript and say cut this, cut that, chop, chop, chop; another reader may critique it and say, hey, I like it how it is.
When receiving a critique, remember it’s not gospel. Weed out the valuable input from the opinions and take it all with a grain of salt. When critiquing, be careful not to let your personal tastes get in the way. Or just add that disclaimer–Only my opinion.