Every writer needs critiques. As I’ve posted here before, critiques from beta readers help writers improve their work. But that doesn’t mean that every critique a writer gets is helpful.
Critiques point out what may not be working well in a story. But they’re all suggestions. No one has to follow word-for-word with what every critique says. Some critiques aren’t good at all. Here’s some tips to help tell the difference between terrible and amazing critiques:
Curse words (directed toward the writing or the writer)
Believe it or not, I’ve been cussed at in a critique. The critic told me that my chapter reminded him of another work he hated (and cussed at), which I felt was directed toward me. No one should be cussing at you or your work at all. Throwing cuss words around does not help anyone.
No suggestions (that are meaningful)
I used to get no suggestions all the time in high school. My classmates thought since I was a writer, they didn’t have to critique well. So, they pretended to critique my work. I’d get comments such as “wonderful” or “you did great here” or “all correct.” None of their comments had any real suggestions of how to improve my writing. Some writers have done this to me as well. It’s more common than you’d think.
Even great stories, such as Percy Jackson and the Olympians, have suggestions to improve it. No written work is perfect.
Bring nothing but brutal (even if it’s directed toward the work)
Having your work critiqued can feel like a personal attack. Some critics critique every small thing they find. Instead suggestions, they nitpick everything without much or any praise at all.
This can cause the writer to have more stress and self-doubt than needed.
Suggestions (for the story)
Most advanced critics will give some suggestions to help out. For example, instead of pointing out that the sentence doesn’t make sense, they’ll give an example of how to fix it. Critics don’t do this to everything, but they do it to a good amount.
Praise (for the writer)
Advanced critics also praise the author, usually toward the beginning. In my class, everyone had to say something good about the story that was different from anyone else.
Since critiques are personal, it’s helpful to remind writers what’s great about his/her/their work. It’s also easier to understand critiques if the writer already has faith in his or herself.
Did I leave anything out? Comment below!