Critique Or Critical?

By Eilis Flynn

Praise is always wonderful, censure not so much. Critiques are a little of both, or so it seems. 

Anyone who’s ever written anything to be read by someone else (and this, of course, includes 99.9% of us) will tell you that there’s a moment in which you hesitate – just a moment – before you hand over the work.

And in that moment is an eternity of doubt and worry: Is it good enough? Does it make sense? Am I entrusting the wrong person to give me an honest assessment that will also be flattering enough for me to confirm my own opinion of my work?

Anyone who’s ever been in a critique group can tell you about the war within, to deny that their baby is anything less than perfect, and a frightening willingness to accept that yes, it not only is less than perfect, it’s the sorriest piece of writing you’ve ever produced. 

Now imagine you’re the other guy, the one clutching his or her baby, her trembling hands offering her latest manuscript for you to critique … do you know exactly what to say?

Here’s a website that might give you a clue about how to give a critique that will help, not harm.  As the author asks, “Ever wonder how some critics can find some weaknesses in your work whereas others gloss right over them?” This might help.

How to critique fiction, by Victory Crayne

And here’s a step-by-step on how to write a critique that can also give you some idea on how to give your opinions – which is what critiques are, after all – in a logical format. Did you enjoy reading it? What kind of an experience was reading this work for you?

Now go out and write something and wait for the praise … and the criticism. And take it for what it’s worth. Remember, it’s your work under scrutiny, not YOU.

Copyright 2006 Eilis Flynn