August 28, 2011

so what do you think?

There are words which sever hearts more than sharp swords; there are words the point of which sting the heart through the course of a whole life. -Fredericka Bremer

In other words (no pun intended) words can build up and destroy. And so we must use words carefully.

Today, I am going to be talking about critiquing written work.

I think all of us, at one time or another, have given a critiquing of something. And we ourselves have asked the question, "So what do you think" is nervous anticipation.

Have you ever been given a bad critique? Something said that made no sense and brought your spirits down. It's hard and discouraging. We want people to seriously think about what they say to us. But on the flip side we need to think about we say to others.

To help you in critiquing written work I have a couple tips:

1 - Make sure you ask how many drafts the work has gone through before you give your option.
You would treat a 1st draft work very differently from, say, a 7th draft. In a 1st draft you want to give help in general areas. And then a piece that has gone through many drafts you want to give more attention to the little things, because a lot of the general issues have been sorted out.

2 - Keep in mind the experience of the writer.
I would give different advice for each different person, say an old friend, a professional writer, my younger sister, etc...

3 - Keep in mind the goal of the writer.
Again I would give different advice depending on the goal of the writer. My younger sister probably wants to write more for fun in contrast to a professional writer.

4 - Make sure to be encouraging but honest.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build one another you, just as you are doing."


{Libby} said...

Good advice.

Marian said...

Good points, especially that regarding drafts! Critique is so difficult to give (and sometimes to take!). I think it's always good to name some pros, no matter how many cons there are. :) And I figure that if I can't any pros, then I either have the wrong attitude and need to adjust, or I'm probably the wrong person to give critique to that particular author/book.

Marian said...

Typo correction...I meant "can't find any pros". ;)

Amanda said...

Very good advice! I'm studying to be a writing instructor, and so that seems to give folks freedom to show me all their writings. : ) I have to keep these in mind as I read them. :)

Lèrowen said...

{Libby} & Marian - Thank you.

Amanda - Sounds fun!