Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Open Communication In Critiques

Getting feedback from someone else regarding your project is essential. Too often, we spend so much time in front of our computer, we start to write with blinders on and can't see the mistakes we are making. But, getting poor feedback from someone is going to be equally as bad for an author. The key to making the critique successful is open communication on the part of BOTH people.

For the person doing the critique, worrying how the person will feel if you told them truth is worse than telling them their writing is a piece of "you know what." Leading them on and giving them the image that what they have done is fine will only lead to problems down the line when they start submitting works to the editors and agents and the rejections roll in. Up until that point, everyone "loved the writing." Except, the reality is that they weren't coming out and telling the person the truth.

There is a second level here that we need to acknowledge, and this applies to many of the contests writers enter. The person providing the critique needs to be honest of his or her capabilities. I have mentioned this before in an earlier post, but would you take your car to a plumber to be fixed? Probably not. The same goes for getting feedback. If the person you are getting the feedback from is struggling to get published, or maybe even write a quality story on their part, are they the best for getting feedback for your story? Probably not! The key is the person doing the critique needs to know his or her strengths and weaknesses. Focus the critiques on what they are good at and limit the critiques of what they are weak at.

But the open communication issue also applies to the writer. If you send your story in for feedback, it is beyond crucial to focus in on what YOU need the help with. Just saying "tell me what you think" can potentially lead to making changes in places you didn't need or what. One of my Greyhaus authors is really good with that. "Hey Scott, when you take a look at this, can you just make sure the GMC of the heroine is coming through in chapters 1-6." Making a statement like this prevents me from making plot changes or other suggestions that might not work with the outlined story she had going.

Critique is good. Feedback is necessary. But, if what you get is sending you in the wrong direction, then you have problems.

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