A short post to end the week when I have been discussing some aspects of the critique.
When I started offering professional critiques for clients there was always a slight sense of how objective our advice really is. Creative arts are subjective interpretations of life and along comes someone with the red pen (now called Track Changes) and makes comments are all over your work; killing off all your darlings. To add to the misery is an in-depth report that pulls apart your plot and gets up close and personal to your style … and yikes, the danger is thinking God am I really that bad at writing? No. Of course not. And that’s why I focus on the strengths as well as the weaknesses in a mission to make something stronger. Often (in fact most of the time) it’s not about making something terrible, less terrible (I guess it has happened that something needs a LOT of work) but it is more about making something that’s okay or good into something great or wow! The idea is never to demoralise but to empower. Every time. I want people to come away from reading their critique inspired and can’t wait to make this manuscript shine. Otherwise I am failing, so even a manuscript that let’s say a first draft of a novel by a first time writer, and has many weaknesses to address, the critique will show them what they do well and what they need to focus on. I believe the critique should be viewed as a personal one-to-one masterclass. A quick way to learn what needs to be worked on.
That’s why I think it can be invaluable for learning your craft. To return to my point about how objective advice is, well, having studied for my MA and taken courses in copy editing and proofing, as well as working for publishers, I hope I have a solid grounding. Although I think working as a writer who has had success is probably one of the biggest credentials here, I am with you, a working writer 🙂 But also the proof is in the pudding. Lots of my clients go on to have success and so so many come back again with new projects because it worked the first time! I was tested when approved to work for Cornerstones, and that means they looked closely at my interpretations of manuscripts and my assessments. So while there has to be some subjectivity, the assessment is as objective as I can make it. And I am always looking at ways to improve and refine the service offered. So far, so good.
Critiques teach us how to be better writers, me as well as you.
I also benefited from a critique when I was learning and still as part of ongoing feedback on my work. I welcome opinion on work in progress and I think we must never be precious about it.
A good critique can make a huge difference to your writing. A bad one (and there are bad critters out there) can break a writer. I would never want to do that to anyone. I strongly believe it has to be done well, which is why some of my reports are over 30 pages! But if I’ve worked with you, then I hope you agree with how helpful it is (she says nervousely)…
That’s it, here endeth the supposedly short post! Have a great weekend everyone! Enjoy 🙂