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  • Writer's pictureSheri McGuinn

The Down sides of Critique

While I definitely advocate participating in a critique group to test your writing and get constructive feedback, there are down sides of critique that need to be addressed.

Individuals give critique based on their own experience. Sometimes this leads to critique that is not useful - for example, when they are not familiar with your genre and expect it to fit a different style. You can ignore most of that.

Sometimes they just heap praise on everything that is read, because they don't have confidence in their own ability to comment. Start by asking for a specific point of praise and eventually they'll grow as a critiquer.

And sometimes a member of your critique group asks the questions that make you realize you need to start all over (again) with major changes in the plot and characters.

That's good critique, but it's also a bummer when you thought the novel was done - at least until you roll up your sleeves and get to work making your story better.

That's where I am right now. I thought the manuscript just need a light polish.

One question made me realize a secondary character really has to take the lead - and appear in the opening scene. I'll have to go through the entire manuscript to make that change work throughout the story.

Another question made me revisit the core mystery - what is in that envelope? I'm updating a novel I first wrote forty years ago. What was in the envelope then simply doesn't have the necessary punch anymore.

The easiest question I'd already been asking myself - will my idea work for the accident? I'd already decided to consult with an expert, which has now been accomplished. The details will be adjusted accordingly.

So, the down sides of critique are that sometimes you need to ignore the advice - and sometimes you need to let it lead to a complete do-over.

Sheri McGuinn. I write. Award-winning stories and novels. Screenplays and more.

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