Critiquing in a hostile environment

I recently had the pleasure of critiquing a friends latest manuscript. First, I have to say that I love this author's voice, way with characters, and overall fun spirit in her novels. While this book is different than her others, I think readers will find that her voice is strong and engaging in this new format. Secondly, this author critiqued my work with a great amount of helpful input that I truly appreciated and considered.

But that brings up the subject of critiquing. Do we critique or have our work critiqued because we want someone to say, "Wow, your work is so good--don't change a thing!"? OR do we want an honest accounting?

I have to admit, I did belong to a critique group. I enjoyed the weekly groupings when we'd dish over coffee and read our work and discuss changes. What I didn't enjoy was the swift change to a hostile environment when one writer did better than another in a contest or with an editor or agent. It was truly disheartening to see a once supportive group succumb to the lure of jealousy and anger. It takes a certain amount of maturity to admit, yes, I'm jealous (total human nature), but I'm happy for your success.

So, bye I went.

Did I find peace critiquing with another group or individuals? Yes---and no. With some authors, I find that once they find a thread of success, they become that know-it-all we all hated in school. They say with an imperial or condescending tone that this is the it "must" be done. Well, yes, they have found success, but I began thinking, I've had success as well. That should account for something.

So, bye I went.

By now you may be thinking I'm difficult to please, I only want kudos, and no criticism. While some critiquing is difficult to hear, my main goal for critiquing is to better my work, hear another opinion, and grow as a writer. When you are in a situation in which the relationship is one sided, and frankly passive aggressive, it is too hostile to be successful. To me, it is unforgivable for someone to thrash your manuscript over a rock, shred it to pieces and then totally disregard any comment you have for their work. Worse yet, they then change their work to reflect your comments and take all of the credit. Again, passive aggressive.

So, now I am picky who sees my work. We discuss, and sometimes bicker, but in the end, I know that the comments are for my own writing good. They aren't derived from a negative, controlling place. They are filled with support and well-wishes and are so far the longest critiquing relationships I've encountered.

That's it according to Maddy~


1 comment

  1. From one FF&P chapter mate to another, I completely understand.


Thank you for commenting! Please consider following my blog.