On Writing: The Need for Critique

We need to talk about something very important to the growth of a writer.

Critique.

Yes, I saw you shudder. And it’s okay. It is overwhelmingly scary to send your precious words out to someone else to “tear apart.” It’s almost as bad as sending out a submission and getting a rejection letter.

All that aside, it is also a necessary step for growth. Critique, editing, and beta reading are three entirely different animals, and every writer needs to use them all as a key to writing better. I’ll explain….

The Need for Critique

What is critique?

If you ask google “What is critique?” you will find a wide selection of answers. Some are worded with more clarity, such as Vocabulary.com, which offers this: As a verb, critique means to review or examine something critically. As a noun, a critique is that review or examination, like an art essay or a book report. Most of the others carry the same definitions: a detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory or evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way.

 

Some have a different term for it altogether: constructive criticism, or “concrit” if you will.

This is the act of offering your work for critical review. This is not asking your sister to read it and tell you what she thinks (that’s actually another important step in writing called beta reading, which we will discuss another time). This is an expectation that someone will take your story apart, bit by bit, and tell you what works and what doesn’t. It is an invaluable step in the writing process and should always occur prior to submission.

Critique is meant to be a useful tool to help you polish your writing. It is not meant to berate and tear down another person or as a means for free editing. It takes a thick skin and an open mind to receive critique. These words are your darlings, and it’s like having someone put your kid down. Sometimes, it hurts, even when it’s done correctly. Critique is also not meant to judge the greatness of your ideas or creativity. It is a part of the business side of writing and a necessary evil if you want others to read your work.

Critique is not about changing your story. It’s about improving the relating of the story to the reader– Tara K. Harper

Why is critique important to a writer?

Critique is a process by which a writer can grow. It helps you identify your writing strengths and weaknesses. If you can’t identify both, you will never learn how to build on your strengths and overcome those weaknesses. The purpose of a critique is to help you get your document ready to sell, regardless of where you seek to submit. I like to refer to critique as the auto mechanic of the writing world. They are useful, when done correctly, for tuning up your work, cleaning out your story’s engine, tightening the nuts and bolts of your plot line, and adding a fresh perspective on flow and readability.

No one, not even the greats, writes a perfect first draft. No one wants to write a tenth or twelfth draft, either. Critiques can help save an author time that could be better spent seeking publishers and agents. It is the painful but necessary step between putting the final word on the page and shipping it off to an editor.

Just Do It

Putting your work out there is scary. It’s a completely normal feeling, so is “I’m not good enough.” Writers are their own worst critics. Critiques can also offer invaluable validation that your efforts in writing are not in vain. Stop being afraid and put your writing out there. Critique is an essential part of writing, one that every writer should learn how to give as well as receive. We’ll talk about that next time.

Have you ever received a critique? How did you feel? Was it a positive experience for you or did it make you want to crawl in a hole and hide? At least you stuck with your writing, right? Let’s talk about it.

The business side of #writing is rarely fun. #Critique is one of the worst. It is a necessary evil though if you want to improve. #writerslife Click To Tweet

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