Critique This!

by Patricia Walters-Fischer

One of the best things about being in a writer’s group is the critique group. Every two weeks, we have the opportunity to send in fifteen pages and get it shredded by our colleagues so we can continue to improve, grow, and learn.

I don’t know about any of you, but I love critique weeks. I’m always grateful for the input, the suggestions and even the “I didn’t like it” critique.

This week, I got one such review. In fact, I received “I really didn’t like this.” Not only did she not like my story, she didn’t like the heroine at all and she felt the supporting character sounded preachy.

Along with my critique, my amazing fellow writer said, “I’m so sorry. I know all the words we write are personal.”

The beauty of having so many genres in romance writing is there will be times when someone writes something that you simply don’t like and it’s fine. I lost no sleep over the critique, nor did I get upset.

Immediately writing her back, I told her I appreciated her honesty and she had some very valid points. Will I change my story? A bit, but overall, the conflict she doesn’t like is what drives my story.

This morning at 1:43, she’d responded, telling me she had actually been unable to rest because of what she’d written to me. I’m glad I wrote her right back. I would hate to think she’d actually lost sleep over doing what I asked of her.

When we all enter our “babies” in critique sessions, we all know we’re putting them on the block. Sometimes we’ll come away with glowing reports and others, well, it won’t be pretty, but it’s not personal.

Our chapter is unique in that we all seem to want everyone to succeed. I’ve known of many writers groups that don’t help each other one bit and hope for no one else to be published or successful. All I feel is love and hope when I get together with all of you.

I know is this person gave me an honest critique. She spent her time going over it with the intension of helping me improve… and she didn’t even like it.

Regardless of what I think she should have seen in my work, it doesn’t matter. She gave me something to think about, things to fix, and lines to improve.

That’s a perfect critique.