Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The art of being critiqued

I am beavering away, putting Tiamat's Nest up on Critique Circle. I'd forgotten how hard it can be to let other people see some writing for the first time, and openly invite brutal commentary.

In the case of Tiamat's Nest, I can see there's work to be done, which is what I was expecting. Luckily, there's also a lot of positive feedback too, which suggests I haven't been completely wasting my time.

Now I'm in full-on critiquing mode for the next few months, giving as well as receiving, I am reminded that there's a distinct art to the whole process. There's already all sorts of advice out there on how to give a constructive and useful critique, so I'm looking at how to receive and make use of critiques.

Being critiqued can be...

Confusing - one person says they love this part, another says they hate it!

Frustrating - dammit, it's obvious, I explained all that back in chapter three!

Overwhelming - so much advice to deal with. Where to start?

Soul destroying - you mean I have to go back through the whole novel and change my main character from an angsty emo teen to a no-nonsense snarky goth?

Heartbreaking - doesn't anyone like anything about my baby? Why do I bother?

It needn't be

Over the next few posts, I'll share some of my own critique survival tips. I hope there's something someone out there will find useful.


  1. I really wanted to get to your novel, but alas, work is preventing me from critting right now. I'm sure your baby has adorable dimples in there somewhere. :)

  2. It's a necessary evil, unfortunately. But in the end, it's defiantly for the best!



  3. I guess there is a whole different way of reading when you are doing a critique. You are very brave indeed to send your work out with a question mark after it.

  4. Not a problem, Jean. Dimples for sure :)

    Valerie, it's just part of the process. A hard part, but necessary.

    Delores, when you are in the habit of critiquing, you will never read a published work the same way again!

  5. I'm really looking forward to those posts, my friend. It's been a long time since I've been in critter mode. I actually have a harder time dealing with giving critiques rather than receiving them. I figured out how to wade through the sometimes contradictory advise I receive (go with the crits that hit a nerve somewhere within you)--but I sometimes don't even know where to begin when critting others' works.

  6. Greetings Ian,

    Firstly, humble apologies for my absence from visiting your site. Been some very hectic times.

    I'm very interested in your critique survival tips. I have received a number of manuscripts from published and aspiring authors. Like David above notes, I find it difficult to give out a critique.

    A peaceful weekend to you and your loved ones.


  7. I know it must be a necessary evil but oh boy, not sure I could handle having my work critiqued.

    Looking forward to reading more about the process and how you manage it

  8. David, I have approaches to critiquing, too. Apart from obvious line edit stuff like typos and awkward/confusing phrasing, it mostly starts with general impressions as a reader -- what most hits me as I read? Tease out that thought and build from there.

    Gary, I might post at some point about giving critiques, but that is a whole topic on its own that many others have covered already. I know you've been occupied recently - fantastic news about your son and his medical.

    Mynx, one way to look at it - if I can't cope with having my work critiqued in a private group, then I'm sure as heck not ready for it to be published and reviewed out there in public :)

  9. Ian, you did a wonderful job of covering crit territory. I will be promoting this on Twitter, :-)


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