Jun 20, 2010
Let's chat about critiquing.
This seems to be the most popular time of the year for writer's to jump on the contest wagon. Every where you look, some chapter, somewhere is holding their "Fall in Love", Best Line, Best First Page, or First Meeting contest, etc.
And for a small price you can send in your "however many pages they want," and you'll get a top notch critique on your work. Well, I will say that I am usually delighted to get all the feed back I can on a submission. Winning is not the reason to submit. I think of it as a small price to pay to see where I'm at and what needs tweaking. I do not know if I enjoy the rather rude comments that I've received and so, let's chat.
Critiquing is not an area for one frustrated writer to rip into another one. It is for beneficial criticizing.
In other words, I didn't pay money to have another writer whine about something I wrote. I did pay money to receive constructive criticism!
If you sign up to be a judge, then judge. Do not change the story to fit your likes. Some teenagers can be mouthy and snotty. We're not supposed to argue with the judge and so I won't. But I will say that "I hated this book. If the writer doesn't change the disposition of her character, this book will not sell," is not constructive criticism.
Make general comments: POV violation, dialogue doesn't sound true or timeline is confusing. I didn't get a good feel for the setting or the pacing is off. I'll even except someone telling me that my teenager comes off as a lot younger, or the child sounds more like a parent. That I can change.
Remember that critiques are given as suggestions on how to improve the writer's work, not discourage them. Needless to say, that contest might never get another entry from me. :=(
I judge quite often and I believe that there is a universal etiquette in critiquing, if you don't know what that is, take a class on it. And, don't judge until you've learned how to be encouraging!