Tag Archives: critiques

Critiques

Tons have been written about how writers should deal with critiques during the drafting process. This is just my take.

  1. The most important thing about critiques is learning how to benefit from them. Not every criticism is valid, and you don’t have to listen to every critiquer. Figuring out which ones you do need to listen to is a skill that must be acquired.
  2. It is not possible to write something that pleases everyone, though some works will appeal to more people than others (and you have to decide how important that is to you). I’m sure you’ve bought anthologies and thought some of the stories were duds while others were brilliant, and another reader will pick out hits and misses different from yours. Keep that in mind — but also remember that at least someone — the editor — must really like your story for it to go anywhere.
  3. Even the most negative critiques usually contain something that you can use: the knowledge that a part of your story didn’t work for some reader. The most useful critiques identify exactly what bothered the reader. Explanations for why these parts of the story didn’t work can be useful, but not everyone is good at articulating such reasons clearly. Suggestions for how to improve those parts are less useful, unless you have a writing style similar to the critiquer’s. Quotations of “rules of writing,” on the other hand, are almost always useless.
  4. Some people are better at critiquing your work than others. This seems to be a skill independent of how successful they are as writers, and it may even be independent of how much you like their writing. This is why it’s important to get critiques from as many people as possible.
  5. If hearing criticism of your work makes you unable to function, then you simply cannot be a writer. The courage to hear criticism and still proceed is even more important for writers than dedication and “talent,” whatever that may mean.