How To Take a Critique

groupDo you have a critique group?  If not, you should.  Everyone needs feedback on their work and people who know you and your writing are the best place to get it.

This isn’t to say that when someone gives you a critique that you should make the changes as if you are going down a check list.

  1. Fix spelling error.
  2. Move comma.
  3. Her eyes were green in paragraph 2.  When did they turn brown?
  4. Does anyone actually say this?

What it does mean is that you need to read their comments and see what isn’t working.  If they question a character’s motivation, you may not have done a good enough job setting it up.  Do you use both scenes and sequels?  Sequels can be incredibly short, just a line or even a few words, but they give your character a chance to reflect on recent events. 

If your critiquers think your story ends too soon, you may not have tied things up neatly.  This doesn’t mean you need to use their suggested ending, but do look at your climax and denouement.  Is it satisfying?  Or does it feel like you’ve cut things off?

When two or more people make similar comments, pay attention.  This may be a weak point in your manuscript.  You don’t have to use any of the suggested fixes, but you should look at this part of the story and see what isn’t working and how to fix it. 

True, some people simply won’t “get” your work and their comments may not be terribly helpful.  But if you constantly write off the critiques you receive, you’re probably missing an opportunity to grow.  How can you help your reader grow if you aren’t willing to do it yourself?