Monday, February 2, 2009

When two or more agree

We always talk about the subjectivity of the publishing business and how what is good for one person might be bad for someone else. This is completely true, however, I have to draw a line with this one.

I think writers have their blinders on when there have been several critics that say the same thing about their writing, and yet they seem to think that they might be wrong. Sure, they may be, but darn it, when several people are saying the same thing, then maybe you as a writer might be the person at fault.

When I talk to writers, I always stress the importance of getting feedback from a lot of people. Not only do you get a chance to hear a lot of perspectives, but it also gives you a chance to follow potential patterns in the comments. Seeing those patterns should give you something to look for and edit later. I should stress though, that when I say to get different perspectives, I mean to find people with very different points of view. If the only people you go to are people who think like you, then you aren't getting what you want.


  1. Good point--but one should also know how to take critiques as well. It's almost an art form in itself to know which comments to pick and which ones probably aren't useful. And especially important to understand why BEFORE MAKING CHANGES. The worst thing that a writer can do is make changes because someone said to, without thinking about what's good for the story.

  2. Amen, Scott! The worst thing about critique groups is that you end up telling the same person the same thing, time after time, manuscript after manuscript. Sure it's great to 'believe in your art' and 'follow your muse,' but that doesn't mean you should trade in your eyes and ears when you decide to become a writer. I think this is the one great thing about contests---you get a chance for a handful of anonymus, trained or published readers to comment on the same piece of work. If you get repeat critcisms, you can idenitfy the problem and fix it. It's sometimes worth the entry fee just to see where you're going off the tracks.