1. What is your gut reaction to the critique? If it is a “I can see her point, but it just doesn’t feel right to make that change,” then maybe you should listen to your gut. Even someone experienced might not know what is best for your story. I once had an editor insist I add something to a story. Reluctantly, I added it. In reviews, the only criticism was about the part I had added.
2. When you wrote that one part, did you think it might not be great, but you just didn’t want to do the work to fix or change it? Yeah, that happened to me. I gave a piece to my crit group. I thought it was great. Except for that one little part that I didn’t want to work on any more and hoped they wouldn’t notice. Well, they noticed. So if you are already wondering if something in your story should be changed, it probably should.
3. If your reaction to a critque is, “Why does everyone always pick on that one part? I love that part and I don’t want to change it!” then maybe you should look again. If “everyone” is saying the same thing, then maybe you are wrong. Maybe not. But you should at least take another look and see why they keep marking that spot. Maybe all you need to do is change it around a bit or make it clearer. I usually ask my husband to read through the longer articles I write for the paper. His usual response is, “It’s great.” But sometimes he lingers over something with a little frown on his face and I know he’s found something wrong. Sometimes he says he just doesn’t understand what I’m trying to get across. And sometimes I want to shoot back with, “What’s wrong with you? It’s perfectly clear!!!” But I know that if my very educated husband doesn’t get it, I am the one not communicating well. Even worse, sometimes he tells me that the article is “okay” but I can do better. I know I hurried through it. I wanted it DONE. Now I have to do it over. And down deep I knew before he said it that he was right. Sometimes it is only a matter of changing a sentence or two, or some punctuation, but then when he smiles and says, “that’s it!” I know I’ve done my job.
4. Is your story really different? So different people question it? The question really should be, does it work? Does it make a good story? In my story, A PIRATE’S TALE, I did something on purpose that caused one editor to not only reject the story but tell me I didn’t know how to write a romance! I wrote it from the point of view of a minor character. Romances are supposed to be written from the POV of the hero and heroine. But I like my story. I “broke that rule” on purpose, and I think it works. I hope you read it and think so, too!
What critique helped you the most in your writing?
Did you ever have a critique that was totally off?