Every writer needs critiques. As I’ve posted here before, critiques from beta readers are awesome at helping writers improve their work. However, that doesn’t mean that every critique a writer gets is helpful.
Critiques are there to point out what may not be working well in a writer’s story. But they’re all suggestions. No one has to follow word-for-word with what every critique says. There are some critiques that aren’t good at all though. Here’s some tips to help tell the difference between terrible and amazing critiques.
Curse words (directed towards the writing or the writer)
Believe it or not, I’ve been cussed out in a critique before. The critic told me that my chapter reminded him of another work he hated (and cussed at), which I felt was directed towards 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 need to critique me hard. 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 Harry Potter, can still have suggestions to improve it. No written work is perfect.
Bring nothing but brutal (even if it’s directed towards the work)
Having your work critiqued can feel like a personal attack. Some critics don’t understand this and just critique everything they can find too harshly (even without the cuss words I mentioned before). Instead of giving you suggestions or small pointers, they’ll nitpick every single detail without much praise 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 also give some suggestions to help out. For example, instead of just pointing out that the sentence doesn’t make sense, they’ll give an example of how the sentence could make more sense. The critics don’t do this to every single bit of advice, but they do it to a good number of them.
Praise (for the writer)
Advanced critics also praise the author, usually towards the beginning. In one of my advanced writing classes in college, everyone had to say something good about the story that was different from anyone else.
Since critiques are personal to writers, it’s helpful for the writer to also be reminded of everything great about his or her work. It’s also easier to take and understand critiques if the writer already has faith in his or herself.
Did I leave anything out? Comment below!