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How to: Be a Beneficial Critter

13 May Posted by in How-To Articles | 4 comments
How to: Be a Beneficial Critter

Though I’m not currently participating in a critique group, I’ve gotten a lot of good out of them over the years, and I hope I’ve contributed too. Here are a few things that will make you a welcome addition to any busy bee-hive:

1. BE critical: Take an honest look, and BE helpful. Don’t just trade compliments. “Great story!” by itself doesn’t give the writer anything to go on, and makes them wonder if you even took time to read the submission.

2. BE positive: Critical doesn’t mean negative. Always include (or start with) the writer’s strengths. Example: “Your characters are so believable”, or “I could really picture myself in that scene.”

3. BE gentle: Point out a problem and mention that you’ve seen it more than once, but don’t mark it each and every time you see it. Once should be enough to help them get the message.

4. BE Creative- I had a very good crit partner who found a word repeated quite often in one submission. He told me “You have a ‘was garden’ on this page.” You’d better bet I thought of that every time I typed the word was, and went back to look for repeated words before I submitted again!

5. BE Thoughtful: Never say anything like “I hated this” or “I just couldn’t get into this story” even if it’s true. Submitting something for critique takes a lot of courage, and writers(especially new ones) can be easily discouraged. Put yourself in their shoes.

6. BE Receptive: When being critiqued, pay attention, but don’t take it all too seriously. Remember that each critter has his/her own viewpoint and preferences. On the same submission once I had someone say “Too much detail- Who cares what they had for supper?” and another person said, “I love your descriptions. Reading your stories always makes me hungry.” If more than one person makes the same comment- you should consider making changes for sure. After all- friendly critters are there to help and not hinder!

  1. Debbie Archer05-13-11

    Spot on advice. A good critique group is hard to find. We’re blessed. Excellent post, Jenny

  2. Pamela Stephens05-14-11

    These are great “be” attitudes! So right! I once heard someone say, “find something good to say about them…even if it is ‘I like your buttons.'” We often take more time thinking about writing than talking “in person.” Good ideas for all of us.

  3. Sheila Covey05-17-11

    Thanks for posting on this topic! I am so bad about just noting the negative. I’m always in such a hurry, I worry that I fail to point out the “good” in the work I’m reading. I know how much I appreciate the kind words others say about my work–kind of lessens the blow. *lol* If I take time to pray and slow down before I read another person’s work, I’m more apt to give that person the positive feedback they deserve.

    • Jenny Carlisle05-17-11

      Praying first is always a good idea! Thanks for the comments, y’all.

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