Wednesday, May 2, 2012

IWSG: Critiquing

First of all, wow.

I can't believe it's already May.  I'm not sure if I should be wishing for more time, or be jumping up and down because summer break is just around the corner.  No, seriously, I made a countdown right


There:  {------------------------------------->

(The arrow only makes sense if this is the top post on my blog.  So for people looking at this in the future... be aware.)

Okay, it took waay longer than it should have to figure out exactly where to point that arrow.  And when summer starts, I will have SOOO much more time to write and get my work done.  I'm extremely excited about that :)

Now, for my IWSG Post.

I'm insecure about critiquing.

Or critique partnering.

Or beta reading.

They're all very similar, but yes, I'm insecure about it.  Don't get me wrong: I'm not insecure about getting feedback or anything like that.  I love getting helpful feedback and having more than just my mom's and my best friend's terribly biased opinion on my work.

I'm insecure about critiquing for other people.

Sure, I've beta read before.  I'm beta reading a book right now, and critiquing two more.  (When did I ever say I wasn't busy?)

Sometimes the story I'm reading is just too darn good!  I mean, there are problems with every book.  No book is perfect.  But there are times when I have a really hard time finding something to fix.

I can't say I've ever gotten insufficient feedback, but there have been a few where I'd liked to have known more about what I could do to fix my story.  And when I give feedback, I want people to to walk away with a bunch of good suggestions and ways to improve their story.  I want to make it easy for them to fix things.

So, when I can't find much to fix, it scares me out of my mind!

What about you guys?  Are you insecure about critiquing/beta reading?



Miranda Hardy said...

I've been there. It gets easier the more you do it. I realized my strengths and tell the writer ahead of time. It helps let them know what to expect from you as a reader.

E. Arroyo said...

I've been there too. And the writer went on to get repped by an agent. Everyone is in a different place in their writing career. Sometimes just saying what's truly on your mind about the piece helps!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I can TOTALLY relate to you there. It's easy if a book or writing needs a lot of work. I have a hard time critting for my CP because her writing is just so awesome. I always feel like a failure if someone else points out something that I didn't. Or if I send back a chapter with nothing more than happy faces. Same deal with beta reader.

I'm also worried that people won't take my feedback well. I've had that happen to me twice. One person became rude and it damaged our friendship. Another kept telling me I was wrong. Her husband didn't have a problem with it. And they were over such minor points, I couldn't figure out why she just didn't leave them the way they were if she felt that way.

davidgmckendry said...

If you just want to be told how great your writing is, ask a nice person. If you really want constuctive criticism (and can handle it for what it is), ask an honest person. If you want constructive criticism but in a nice way, ask a nice honest person who will tell you what you need to hear but in a nice way. :)

T. Z. Wallace said...

Well, if you REALLY can't find any obvious flaws, you can always point out what works for you, and also expectations. If you were to say "I hope to fing out more about xyz soon!" and the writer actually doesn't talk about xyz any more, it tells them either to cut it or (if it actually important or confusing) to clarify. You can make notes of your internal dialogue: the character seems young, whiney, etc. Perhaps that is what is intended, or perhaps the writer will think, Really? and want to change things if that is not their intention. Or, you can ask for more chapters to see if that points out holes or issues. Writers do love feedback, and I am sure that everyone you are helping appreciates it very much! (I know I do!)

T. Z. Wallace said...

Also, as a writer, I have the whole thing in my head, so it is easy to miss points that I need to flesh out more. If someone points these out, I appreciate it. I may not realize that my head has filled in any holes that a "blank slate" reader might see. If anyone has ANY input, I listen...because if it gives one person pause, it is likely to give another pause. It means something. I need to look at it. I would much rather a beta reader point something out than someone reviewing the book, or a paying reader. A writer can quietly fix it now, or they can try to fix it later after the error has been shouted from the mountain tops and cause readers to doubt their ability. I prefer now, thank you very much! If someone's feelings get hurt over constructive criticism, they might want to rethink their profession.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Yes. It's hard to know how much to say. I love getting back really tough, but helpful, critiques. But some people don't, and until you've worked with someone a bit you don't really know what kind of person they are. :)

Sara said...

I agree, it can be supper hard to give good feedback. Whenever I get stuck, and feel like something is supper solid, plot wise and etc, I always either try to bounce idea's off a friend, or I look at language. Alot of the time age appropriate language can get missed.

Rena said...

Yeah, it's hard to beta read. And the interesting thing, is that sometimes the things another person needs to hear are more general than specific, like "I don't know why, but I sort of lost interest in this part," or "I liked all of it, but this part made me squeamish," or even "I absolutely loved it, but I'm curious as to why so and so didn't set the light house on fire to kill off the bad guy in chapter 5."

Yeah, logic, attention, plot holes, continuity, and grammar (though late in the game) are the bread and butter of beta reading. Good luck, and know that it gets easier.

Shiraz Akhtar said...

First of all I would like to say that just reading your blog brings a smile to my face. I guess, it's your enthusiasm that rubs off.

Of course everybody's insecure about critiquing/beta reading. Sometimes it gets really tough to form your own opinions about a piece, and you're always worried not be dishonest as well. I guess, in the end it is all about saying what you truly feel. Be honest, that's it. There's nothing more to it.

Kelley Lynn said...

I guess... not really. I am when I first critique someone's work but usually because I'm afraid they'll hate me with all my different suggestions :) haha.

But I'm always completely 100% honest. So if there's a lot I have to say, the book, IMO, needs a lot of work.

If I haven't said a lot the author knows that IMO its really darn good!!! :)

M Pax said...

It's sort of like writing. The more you do it, the better you get at it. My local crit group has been meeting for about 3 years. We all catch different things. I guess we all sort of have our specialties. My online crit partners catch different stuff yet. Beta & critique is the one place a writer should hear honesty. We need that to improve. Sometimes I just put a bunch of greats on my partners stuff. That's as valuable as improvements.

Talli Roland said...

I used to be, but I think the more times you do it, the more comfortable you are with it.

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