A Few Thoughts About Critiques

Earlier this week I attended a meeting of a local writers group, and the meetings always open with the critique of two pieces of writing. For this process to be beneficial for the writer who has submitted his or her work for review, there has to be a balance. You need to be truthful, without discouraging the writer to the point where he or she stops writing.

I’ve had my writing critiqued and it was a helpful experience; there were some serious errors in spelling, grammar and plotting. Nevertheless, since a harsh critique can be discouraging,  here are some points to keep in mind, while your work is being discussed by other writers.

1: The individuals who are offering their opinions about your work, aren’t necessarily better writers than you. Just because someone is talking about a subject, doesn’t mean he or she is an expert in that field.

2: You’ve probably had the experience of leaving a movie theatre, and telling your friends how you would have written a different ending. Are the individuals offering a critique of our your story giving you advice on how to improve the story, or just telling you how they would have written it?

3: You are responsible for the material you write. Although you should consider suggestions made by other writers, it will still be your name on the cover of the book.  You don’t want to keep making adjustments to your story, based on the opinions of other writers, until it no longer feels like your story.

4: Writing isn’t strictly a logical process, you have to leave room for inspiration and intuition to guide you. If you think to yourself, “Wow, that’s a great idea!” and someone tells you, “I just don’t think that will work,” you’re going to have to decide between your heart and their opinion.

5: Keep in mind that everyone (and that includes me!) likes to believe that their opinions are important.  What is the highest priority of the writer discussing your material, helping you become a better writer, or having his opinion heard?

Consider the suggestions of other writers, while maintaining your unique voice, and keep writing!

P.S. I’ve been working on a science fiction (space opera) story, and the word count is currently at just over 40,000 words. I don’t know if it will be a novella or a novel.


Copyright © 2019 By J. Paul Cooper




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