Let me start by thanking you for your thoughtful feedback about my recent submission. It’s apparent you spent a considerable amount of time on it.
First, I hope my effort to provide a good clean copy for your review didn’t go unnoticed. I don’t believe in submitting an unedited first draft because it inevitably includes more telling than showing, the dreaded info-dumping and careless grammar mistakes. I don’t want these obvious issues to hinder your review. I want you to focus your expertise on the story elements like plot, characters, dialogue, and worldbuilding. I think I accomplished this goal as most of your comments are related to what I’m looking for.
I noticed several of your comments were tagged “it’s only my opinion” and “it’s your story.” Yes, it is my story, and I want your opinion. I want to know what you learned about the world in which my story takes place in. Do you understand their culture and customs? Their magic system? Do my characters have depth, their own voice? Do you know what they look like? Do you care? Are my descriptions flat? Or over-the-top and distracting? In your opinion, what do you think about the pacing, dialogue, the rhythm and flow of the prose? Was there enough tension? So please, please give me your opinion.
Where you commented you couldn’t remember or recall certain details, I understand. There are gaps in time between the review of chapters. I have the same problem at times. Being a hoarder pays off when it happens to me – I think I have every critique I’ve ever written. The hardest part is the time it takes to find the submission with the detail I’m looking for. Usually, it’s my forgetfulness. If it’s not, I let the writer know to make the detail in question more memorable in earlier chapters.
Another favorite comment of mine is “I’m not very good at explaining myself.” I’m sure you’ve gotten it a time or two yourself. I struggle with this remark because we’re writers. Describing a character’s thoughts, their emotions, their actions, and the settings are the essence of our work. So, shouldn’t we be able to convey our thoughts in a critique? I know it can take some time to find the right words to express ourselves, but take whatever time you need to voice your impression. Otherwise, don’t make the comment if you can’t explain it. Right?
Many thanks for a couple of your suggestions. One of them triggered an ah-ha moment about how to fix a pacing problem that’s been testing my patience. Another inspired me to approach the description of a scene from a different angle. The result was a black and white noir-type setting: Escorted by the detective, I trudged down the shadowy hallway in a surreal daze. Nondescript gray walls, gray doors, gray linoleum. The pools of dim light cast by the overhead lights lead us towards our destination. The morgue. Inside, white walls, shiny white floor, bright lights, and the stark reality. A truly wonderful writing experience for me. Thank you so much for the inspiration.
Oh, and by the way, my main character is a woman, not a man. Just want to make sure you knew since you used the masculine pronoun “he” throughout your review.
* * * * *
The above post is my cynical look at the critique process. It is a vital part of writing, and I honestly appreciate and enjoy the feedback I receive. But at times, I question its authenticity. Yes, we are reminded to take critique comments “with a grain of salt”, which literally means to not take something literally; to view it with skepticism. What’s the point of the critique then?
2 thoughts on “Dear Critique Partner”
Very good points. I particularly love how you make a point to say that we are writers, and yes, it may take time, but we have an obligation to get our word choice right when conveying feedback! Spot on.
I had a paragraph about using the word “opinion.” I suggested using “perspective” instead. It’s not as aggressive or arrogant than “opinion.” I think the connotation of “perspective” is more positive, less confrontational. A very important difference when we are judging others.