Monday, February 18, 2008

Everyone's a Critic

I've recently joined my first in-person critique group, and I'm busy trying to adapt everything I've learned over the years about online critiques.

When giving critiques online, I read the work through one time just for pleasure before I start looking for places that might be improved. In person, you don't have this luxury. You have to have your critic's ears on right from the start.

I also like to scatter my positive comments in and around my not-so-positive-comments, to ease the negatives. There's just no time to arrange your thoughts in an in-person critique, especially if there are several people reading and commenting that day.

When getting an online critique, I like to let the comments sit for a while before I react. This is a lot harder to do in person. You have to respond somehow. I'm finding it's best to just thank the critiquer and then come back with an email if I need more clarification later.

The other thing I'm finding hard is reading my piece without "performing" it. If my character's voice is strong, I just automatically read it with his accent, inflections, etc. It makes for a great read, but since I'm not going to be sitting on the edge of my editor's desk reading it...

One way to combat this (although I haven't tried it yet) is to have someone else in the group read it for you. This is also a really great test for rhyme and verse.

I'm enjoying the heck out of my in-person critique group; if they can just hold on and put up with me till I learn all the ropes. :-)


Anonymous said...

Those are some very good suggestions, Janee. I've recently joined an advanced children's writing critique group, and I find it very stressful, at times (mainly because the quality of writing and critiquing is excellent).

I actually don't like it when readers put use accents in their reading – I find it hard to concentrate on the actual quality of the writing, because I am distracted by the performance.

I have noticed that in the group some people do get others to read for them, sometimes because they are too nervous to read, or because they may read too fast.

janee said...

Good luck with your critique group, P! Don't stress, you can hold your own with the best of 'em. :-)

p.s. One difference I forgot to mention between online and in-person critique critics NEVER give you their colds.