Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How do you crit?

We’re all different and that usually means we do things differently as well. I’ve been wondering how fellow writers choose their critique buddies and how they personally critique.

Do you choose a group of your same genre or are you one to break out of the mold and try something fresh and new?

Do you read a chapter before deciding if you’ll connect with the characters before making the connection with the author?

Are you light hearted and supportive when you tear a person’s work a part?

Are you one who gives a very honest critique and sometimes can be displayed as rude and hurtful?

I personally don’t have a critique group set in stone. Though I’ve tried to fit in to several groups I’ve never quite meshed. I love all of them but I just never felt the connection with their stories like I’d hoped. It was then I realized I’d chosen them for the wrong reasons.

I’d chosen them because they were my friends. I loved them. We loved each other. We got along so naturally so would our work. Though I loved everything I’ve read from all of them I never felt like I fit.

That was until just the other day. A secret someone – I will not name unless they want me too – came into my life (She’s been around we just finally connected) who writes the same stuff I write. Together we clicked. We’ve read one another’s work and fallen in love. I love reading all of hers and I’m constantly dying for more. She’s the first time I felt like I belonged.

So I guess for me it really was about the connection with the story AND it’s writer. For me it was about sitting in the same genre. Someone who can understand the ins and outs for what you’re up against. Though I’ve written three YA novels my love is for chick lit. I want someone to read my work that loves it as much as I do.

So… tell me your story!

33 comments:

mooderino said...

I'd say I was pretty harsh, but I temper my approach for different people. Basically the better you are the more I won't bother with the spoonful of sugar. Personally I find the negative stuff is more helpful, encouragement isn't really an issue as whether I'm up or down I still keep writing.

Of course not everyone feels the same way, which is to be expected.

regards
mood
Moody Writing
@mooderino

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Hi Jen! Crawled out from under the revisions to pop in for a sec:) So, I usually pick people to try and critique with that I think will benefit from my perspective and vice-versa. I've got a pretty thick skin, so I temper myself a lot when I give feedback so that the positive and the encouragement always comes first, followed by my suggestions. So glad to hear you found someone who writes the same thing you do - that's key. It's very difficult to get a valid critique from someone who doesn't write in your genre at all - only because that probably means they aren't reading as much of it either. Have an awesome week - miss ya and I'll be surfacing soon and will shoot you an email:)

Sarah Pearson said...

I don't have a crit partner yet but I'll be hoping for someone whose writing I really 'get'. I can't explain it, but I think I'll know it when I see it!

Miranda Hardy said...

I'm honest, but not brutally so. I practice the art of "suggestions".

I've been lucky this year. I found a great partner, who writes in the same genre and lives so close. We clicked. I love her style and she loves mine, which is wonderful because our strengths compliment each other. It's important to find someone you work well with, and can offer you knowledge in an area in which you need growth.

Creepy Query Girl said...

It depends on the project for me. I don't always call on the same people but in most cases I prefer those who :read and like the genre I write in, have 'clicked' with through the blogosphere, and who've been working at the craft as long or longer than I have. I like to work with people I can learn from who also feel they have something to learn from me.

Sarah said...

That's so exciting that you've found someone you click with! I don't usually have folks who read unfinished stuff, though I tried that recently and it was really helpful. I do have one super-awesome beta reader (Justine Dell), and a few other folks who are increasingly helpful. In terms of my own crit style ... I am thorough. And exacting. But I *think* I am also kind and encouraging. It's an important balance to strike.

Jess said...

My critiques always depend on what the person is looking for. I can basically just say whether or not I personally connect with the story, or I can do line edits and get very specific on character arcs, etc. I try never to be "harsh" in tone. I just don't think it's necessary.

Katie Ganshert said...

I definitely am an intense critiquer. I try to offer some encouragement, but I go deep and I use lots of red.

I have three crit partners. All three write romance and are at different stages in the writing journey. With each one, I knew them first, then we entered into a critiquing relationship b/c we clicked.

Jessica Bell said...

I have two gals who I swap writing with. I'm so glad I connected with them. The three of us don't necessarily write the same style (kinda similar in some areas, but not all), but we all really enjoy each others' writing, and that's what counts most. So glad you found your match!

Christine Danek said...

Right now, I have a few folks that I connect with and love what they write. Some are the same genre and some are not and all are at different levels of writing.
Happy you found a connection. Good luck.

Gina said...

I think it's both possible and necessary to critique honestly without being mean. It's why I won't let my husband read my work - he thinks "I don't like this" counts as constructive criticism. Nope. It's just an opinion. A rude one!

Steven Whibley said...

I'm honest, but I offer the caveat that my opinion might not be worth much. Books speak to people differently. I say the most important thing you can do is try to detach yourself from negative comments and critically assess them to see if there is some truth to them that you can address in editing. Not everyone will love your books. There are some people who genuinely HATE the Harry Potter series... I'm amazed by that but it just goes to show you that opinions vary.

Good luck!

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

that's awesome that you found a new crit partner! I've recently decided i need some new crit partners. I think i'm going to join SCBWI and try to get into a local writing group

Emily White said...

I try to be nice, using the sandwich method and all that. I think it's hard for people to receive critique on their work (no matter how tough-skinned they are) and they're more likely to listen to your suggestions if they aren't all negative.

Congrats on finding your new CP! Isn't it wonderful when you find someone like that? :)

That 20 Something Virgin. said...

congrats on finding your own CP! i hope i can get one soon..not sure where to start looking though! hopefully we just click like you did..

Shirley Wells said...

Congrats on finding your CP. It's great when it works well.

I make a bad crit partner. I'm too worried about being negative.

The only person who reads my work is my husband (and no, we're not heading for the divorce courts - yet. :)) I write mysteries, he reads mysteries and he's pretty good at seeing what works and what doesn't. Only when he's approved it does it go to my editor.

Angie Paxton said...

That's so great you found a good crit partner! It makes such a huge difference to have someone you like and trust giving you their opinion.

Caitlin said...

It's been a couple years since I worked with a crit partner! However that is changing next month, thank god. Haha. I'm glad you finally found a crit partner you click with!

But I was definitely the timid one, with scribbled red notes gently suggesting that maybe it might perhaps sound a tad bit better if they did this instead of that, or cut a sentence or paragraph. But you know only if they really felt like it.

However I like "harsh" crit partners for myself. Not the kind that will tell me my story sucks balls and walk away, but who can sit there and just be honest about what works and what doesn't.

Talli Roland said...

I'm a tell it like it is type, I think, but I try not to be too negative and always reiterate it's just my opinion. If the person is relying on my to tell them what I think, well... I owe it to them to be honest. Sometimes it's appreciated more than others!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I recently acquired my three critique buddies and two write in my genre, science fiction. The other one writes Regency romance, but she's excellent with the relationship stuff. (Not my area of expertise!) I haven't critiqued any of their work yet, but I'm about to begin. I'm hoping I'm fair and honest. And funny! Rusty just kills me with his critique comments.

Bob Sanchez said...

I try to keep my comments objective, never personal. They are only about the details of the work at hand, and couched in as helpful a way as possible--for example, cutting down the number of modifiers or using more active voice might give this piece a real impact. That's the type of critique I like to receive.

Emily Rittel-King said...

I'm a stickler for grammar. I focus on it more than plot line, as I feel that's the author's area. But I will speak out over characterization. If I'm not connecting with a character, I say so.
Wonderful post!

Jennie Bailey said...

I specifically chose my group based on the fact that all of us would be sharing YA Fantasy. We met weekly and each one of us was good at something different - one was a Grammar Queen, one was great a continuity, one was the Queen of Questions that helped make the story stronger. I love my girls. They're the best!

Nicole Zoltack said...

The "harsher" my critique, the more potential I see in the story and it just means how much I want the story to shine. I have some beta readers and crit partners but I don't have a group, per se.

Stephsco said...

I joined a group that meets in a public library and have so far only shared one short story. Over time critiquing submissions and discussing with the group, I've come to appreciate a few of their opinions. Some of the group just say "it was great!" while others nit-nit-nitpick at strange details. It's always a lively dicussion though, so I keep going.

I've yet to have anyone other than my husband read my novel WIP. I have a trusted writer-friend in mind for when I'm ready, but we only overlap a little in genres. Not sure if she'll like what I'm writing, but I know she can be objective.

Did any of you find your CPs online? Wondering how that works compared to someone you know in person.

Christa said...

Hmm...well, I always say what I think overall. And then I follow with strengths and weaknesses. There is no point in critiquing if you are going to be too soft, because honestly, that's not what you are going to get from an agent or editor.

Johanna Garth said...

I haven't yet found a crit author partner. My beta-readers are a weird mix of lawyers, environmental scientists and computer engineers. They love to read and come down hard on the places that drag and tell me what works and what doesn't.

I'm so happy for you that you have found a great crit partner!

Jennifer Hillier said...

I've been in four different critique groups and in all of them, none of us were friends. And we all wrote different genres and styles. I actually think this was good for me because it's easier to be honest with someone who isn't technically a "friend". Even so, I've received too-nice crits that made me feel good but did nothing to improve my writing, and I've received brutal crits that upset me for my days but made my work so much better. And everything in between. As for my style, I always mention positive stuff first (because there's always something positive to say). And then I'll constructively criticize (but I'm really nice about it).

I'm glad you've found a good partner - hang on to her! She's invaluable! (As you are to her)

Carrie said...

So glad you found a critique partner who is a perfect fit.
I met my writing group in a writing class. As usually happens at the end of a class everyone wants to start a group but only a few committed people actually make it past the first couple meeting before life takes over.
My writing group is wonderful. One of the members is excellent at encouraging and helpful criticism. If my book is ever published my writing group will get a huge shout out for being so awesome.

Donna Hole said...

My main critique partners are a ftf group. We vary in writing concepts and styles, even in the same genre. Besides the group leader, I've been with the "group" the longest. We're a closed group, you have to petition to get in and if you don't "fit" after a few meetings, you will be asked to leave. Writers usually leave on their own though, for their own reasons - usually because they aren't that serious about their writing and publishing aspirations.

Online partners are different for me. I like to get to know a writer through their blog, and posted writing excerpts. If I'm interested in the story/characters, and enjoy the author voice, I'll let them know I'm willing to critique. I've had other's offer to read my novel in the same way.

I don't consider myself a "harsh" critter, but I'm blunt and honest if something doesn't work. Its so cool be a part of novel's development. I always learn new things about my own writing in the process.

.....dhole

RaShelle said...

I have great crit partners. I love to get honest feedback. Great and not so great. I don't want someone to feel like the have to walk on eggshells around me. If something drives them crazy, I want to know why. As for grammar - meh. I love breaking the rules.

That's how I critique, too. Give it to them straight. The good and the bad. =D

Missed Periods said...

My critique situation is amazing. There are three of us now. We didn't know each other beforehand, but a friend hooked us up because we all were aspiring writers. It's been like four years and we meet once every two-three weeks. We don't write the same genres, but we are super supportive of each other and have helped each other so much. And our meetings have come to include wine! I'm glad you found someone you connect with; it's invaluable.

Mindy McGinnis said...

I found my crit buddies over at AgentQuery, and the three of us formed a "critecta." We all write YA, but we write different genres, which I think keeps us fresh.

On the actual critting, I am straight about what's no working, but I also make sure I comment if there's something I really like. I try to keep good comments to neg comments ratio of about 3:1, with critters I don't know as well.

With my critecta, I can be a little more straightforward and just say YES NO NO NO NO YES, etc :)