After the Critique: Sorting the Good Advice from the Bad


  1. Julie Luek
    Julie Luek October 10, 2013 at 9:36 am .

    Lori, I wish I’d understood this better with my first, fragile and kinda awful attempt at fiction writing. I had one very kind and helpful CP and another who just made me want to hide behind a rock. Her feedback was probably well-grounded, but we didn’t have the writing relationship and she was ouch, harsh. Great advice here.

    1. Lori DeBoer
      Lori DeBoer October 21, 2013 at 12:38 am .

      I wish I’d known you when you were first writing, Julie. I’m glad you made it through those initial, tender stages. It’s really important for folks giving a critique to understand where the writer is at. Psychologists know that harsh critiques are not good teaching tools, but many a misguided critique group member or beginning editor/coach will dole out lashes. I guess I am on a crusade against riding roughshod over writers, because positive feedback brings them up to speed much more quickly and doesn’t leave a trail of potential authors (and their books) by the wayside.

  2. Patricia Stoltey
    Patricia Stoltey October 10, 2013 at 10:20 am .

    Lori, this is wonderful advice for those of us who use critique groups or beta readers. I have a wonderful group but sometimes the amount of feedback is overwhelming, and sometimes conflicting. We have to learn that process of weighing advice and then going with our gut.

    1. Lori DeBoer
      Lori DeBoer October 21, 2013 at 12:35 am .

      I hear you, Patricia. When I used to lead free critique groups, part of my responsibilities as a moderator was to “debrief” the writer on the hot seat by giving them an overview of the positive and negative comments and then gently suggest three or four items to address. It’s always hard to keep your feet in that wave of feedback, even for experienced writers.

  3. Dean K Miller
    Dean K Miller October 10, 2013 at 11:11 am .

    Great advice Lori. I, for one, enjoy the critique/feedback/revision phase. The original writing is always a challenge, fun and an adventure. But the good writing, the stuff that really will make an impact, comes with/after the critiques/revisions. Sure the first draft kicks it off, but it wanders around looking for a place to lodge. The revisions/edits make that place a home and a story worth reading.

    1. Lori DeBoer
      Lori DeBoer October 21, 2013 at 12:33 am .

      I’m glad this resonated with you, Dean. I find that successful writers don’t go wandering off themselves after the first draft. The revisions and edits are really where the fun begins.

  4. Brian Kaufman
    Brian Kaufman October 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm .

    Great advice, particularly the parting nugget (“let it simmer”). As much as I’d like to FINISH, I find that both good writing and good advice become more obvious over time.

    1. Lori DeBoer
      Lori DeBoer October 21, 2013 at 12:32 am .

      Thanks, Brian. I’m with you in that I like the end product more than the process, but I never regret letting my writing stew a bit before I send it into the world.

  5. Kathleen Christensen
    Kathleen Christensen October 11, 2013 at 10:22 am .

    Great suggestions! Years ago, when I was starting out in a poetry support group, I at first tried to edit in everyone’s suggestions. I soon figured out that not only was that impossible (because often reactions conflicted), but that I had to be part of the process, evaluating which feedback I would incorporate and which I would not.

    1. Lori DeBoer
      Lori DeBoer October 21, 2013 at 12:39 am .

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Kathleen! I’m so glad you were able to pull back and evaluate the feedback you had received.

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