Today’s (late) entry in The Month of Relentless Positivity is: critiquing!I’ve just come back from a short story critiquing session. That’s where a group of writers take turns to provide feedback and critical analysis of each others’ stories. Character inconsistencies and logical flaws are called out, pacing is dissected and world-building is pulled apart to make sure it all makes sense.
When conducted in a spirit of trust by participants with a sincere agenda to strengthen stories and solve problems, critiquing is an invaluable part of the writing process. I’ve been lucky enough to be around writers who want nothing more than to help each other and make the stories as good as they can be.
It’s an activity that calls for great generosity and copious trust on the part of the participants. It’s all to easy to do harm with a thoughtless or malicious word, and writers – especially beginners, as we all are at one time – are prone to fragile egos and shaky self-confidence. So a bad critique is potentially devastating (and not always just to novices).
But good, thoughtful, specific critiques can be a godsend to a manuscript that is nearly there. I love getting meaty critiques that really wrestle with the details of my work and try to extract the dross. I love giving my critique and hearing three other perspectives that find different things to love and different elements to question.
And having been on the receiving end of many such critiques, I love paying them forward.
(So, you know, join up with the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild and come along to one of our sessions some time!)
My monthly newsletter comes out in a couple of weeks. If you have a low tolerance for concentrated positivity, you can balance it out with the reality bombs I’m dropping in there.
 Really terrible Dad jokes are a key plank of the Positivity Agenda. I probably could have warned you, huh?
I agree, a good critique group can be gold. Unfortunately I have yet to find one but c’est la vie. If I lived in Canberra I would certainly be joining the Guild!
Viva dross removal and the joy of finding someone who sees our (written) flaws!
I doubt I’d be writing fiction – at least not with any degree of sincerity – if not for the good vibes and encouragement from our critiquing groups. Feedback has kept me going where self-motivation invariably fails 🙂
Hi again Unca Dave! You know I have asked you a coupla times if there was anything there among your acquaintances who might be interested in having a read of that certain Ambitious Project (you know, the sort of acquaintances who re-read the Silmarillion once a year). If there is anyone remotely interested, I am more than happy to do the quid pro quo thing and act as an adjunct member of your group from afar. (If I survive the brutal hazing process, that is.)
Mmm, yes I do recall! I did put it to a couple of the likely prospects and was met with less than an enthusiastic response. Email is inbound.