Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Onward and upward...

I'm a member of the Books and Writers Community, which is an awesome place for writers (and readers) of all stripes to hang out and discuss books, writing, research, and anything else that pops up.  One of the things I like best about The Forum is the willingness of members to help each other out, especially in terms of critiques.  You can post a snippet of your writing and get feedback from dozens of people, all pointing out ways to make your work stronger, better, faster... (well, you get the idea)

www.123rf.com
While I love posting my work, I am usually reluctant to do so.  I'm not afraid of soliciting feedback--indeed, I'm something of a feedback junkie--but I feel like my critiquing skills are not up to par.  It's not fair for me to ask these people to put in the time and effort of critting my work, when I feel my suggestions to them are so superficial as to be laughable.

I know the only way to get better at this is to practice, so that's what I've been doing.  I'm speaking up more and more when people ask for feedback, building up some karmic points so that at some point, I can post without feeling like I'm taking advantage of this great community of readers and authors.

Do you feel like your critiquing skills are lacking, or is it just me?  How have you improved your skills?  Was there anything in particular that helped you out, or is experience the best teacher?  Please share your experiences in the comments!

12 comments:

  1. Ha! You are not alone! I think my critting is shallow. Who knows, maybe we'll both learn how someday. ; )

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  2. Right there with you . I always have the feeling that I don´t have much to say.

    What for me worked so far is really just practise. I have the feeling, that I can say more to snip now than when I started with beta reading/ giving critique.

    So I guess practise and time helps or at least it does for me :)

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    1. It's nice to know practice helps! :)

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  3. One of the best ways to is to judge contests. Being a reader is just as important as being a writer when it comes to contests, but as writer you have an edge. Even if you can't phrase things properly, you can still tell the author what you think about his or her book.

    Also you can focus on just one aspect that you're good at. Say...spelling or punctuation or whatever.

    This also a great way to help your own writing, because things you notice in someone else's work can sometimes be things you're struggling with yourself. :)

    I'd be happy to read something for you so you can experience my style of giving feedback. :)

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    1. I may have to take you up on that, Jen. Thanks for the offer!

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  4. I think I'm getting better with every crit I offer. But, to be perfectly honest, I find it easier to crit stuff that's already at a certain level. I'm more likely to offer a vague, gloss-over crit when the story is badly edited and rambling all over the place...

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    1. True... It can be hard to offer suggestions when you don't know where to begin.

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  5. I normally give vague critiques, especially if it's out in the open, such as on a blog comment. By email, if specifically requested, I'm likely to give a bit more. I never want to say anything negative, but I understand this does a disservice to the writer / story. I once gave a piece of advice to a writer about a story, and sort of got my hand slapped in the comments section, so you may be able to understand my reluctance.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that! If someone asks for a critique, they shouldn't slam the person giving it--I know we all get emotionally attached to our work, but an honest critique is so helpful...

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  6. I've found by reading good fiction, and by that I mean, best sellers, I've been able to zoom in on what works. But probably my greatest learning tool has been giving critiques. It helps to see what doesn't work in someone else's story, and then apply that reasoning to my own manuscript. I've found over the years, receiving rough crits does get easily. Everyone has their own opinions. That's why it's so important to stay true to your own creativity. I do remember a few that were so hurtful I was left stagnant for days afterwards. Not any more though.

    Great post, Lara. I'm #192 on Alex's IWSG list. New follower too. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

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    1. Thanks for commenting Joylene! I agree with your approach--reading what's selling is a good way to tap into what people are interested in reading, and finding out what 'works.'

      I'm getting better at offering suggestions--like you said, the more experience you have, the better you'll be!

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