Friday, June 18, 2010

Critiques of our work: Balancing Praise and Constructive Criticism

As a writer, if you are part of a critique group, you know the scenario. You get some comments that praise your opening line, your use of descriptive phrases, and your voice for a character. Then you get the comment that indicates you need to re-write your entire first chapter. The results are that you stop writing for a short while, going though the emotions of 1) Am I a writer at all? 2) I'll stick to the positive critique or 3) I'll start from scratch and re-write the whole thing. You have to strike a balance if you are serious about writing.

Jody Hedlund, author of The Preacher's Bride, coming out this fall, covers this topic well as a guest blogger on Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent's, site during her "mixed message" series. It couldn't have been posted at a more appropriate time for me. I had just read through four such feedbacks from my critique group and recognized the emotional roller coaster.

I go though these emotions every time I get feedback for a submission. But it only lasts a day. In the meantime, my brain is processing both sides of the feedback and weighing it with my vision for the story, along with, of course, how many of them said the same thing. We learn from this feedback, both positive and negative. And that is why critique groups are so important to writers who want to grow in their craft.