I entered a writing contest and received a written critique. Now, mind you, I don’t have a very thick skin for being a writer, and I hadn’t prepared very much for this contest. So, not surprisingly, I scored very low on the overall point total. The person who judged my work pointed out what I needed to do, and it was substantial. But, sprinkled within all the things I needed to improve on, were comments like these: You have a good idea here; a lot of possibilities; don’t give up. There were so many positive statements, it wasn’t difficult to look at the negative and outline the plan of attack on my manuscript.
How do you critique another’s work? Do you give the positive first and then list the negative? Or do you find that you point out the flaws first and sometimes don’t even make it to the encouragement side?
I believe it makes a world of difference in the writer’s next steps. I have had my work critiqued verbally and received many negative responses. Those are the times when I come home and put my manuscript in a drawer and don't look at it for a while. But, if I am shown respect and someone finds just one piece of advice that leaves me smiling, I am more apt to pick up the manuscript the next day.
Be Positive First
When you have the opportunity to share with someone what you think of their work, I think it is important to always find a positive before you ever give one negative remark. The very act of putting the words on the paper took courage.
Give the Negative, Gently
If you find things that can be improved upon in a work, share those. We need to help each other as writers. But, be careful to give your advice in a way that causes the writer to get up earlier the next morning to work a little harder.
How about you? How do you critique? Do you remember a critique that caused you to believe in yourself?