Continuing with my advice to writers, I do hope you will take this.
Beware of toxic critiquers. These are people who trash your writing, all the way from your grammar usage, to your plotting, characters, descriptions, and even voice.
A friend of mine, a beginning writer, ran into such a person at a writer’s group not too long ago. She was devastated. The critiquer should not be allowed near another person’s writing ever again. She had no idea about how to give a good critique, and she could destroy beginning writers with her sharp red pencil and sharper tongue.
Fortunately, after my friend’s first impulse to shred her work, she came to her senses with the help of another friend, her husband, and an email from me to let me see her work before she did anything drastic.
I found her premise solid. I found the writing itself very good for a beginner. I liked her main character. I even liked her main character’s dog. I liked the set-up of the story. All of that bodes well for more good stuff to come.
Sure, there was room for improvement. But I could tell she would take advice, she would work hard and most likely finish writing this novel.
A good critiquer does three things:
- First, tell the writer what she liked about the piece overall.
- Mention a few things that need improvement (fewer for new writers, more details for more advanced writers).
- Tell the writer again what she especially liked and urge the writer to produce more for the critiquer to look at.
Never belittle, condemn the whole submission, or only say negative things. There is always something good in everything you see. Some great sentence. A great character, description, premise. I don’t understand people who are so harsh and mean. What does it get them?
Have you ever run into such a critiquer? How did it make you feel? What did you do with the work after the critique? I’d love to hear from you.