Thursday, 3 December 2009
Crits - good or bad?
There's been a fair bit of talk lately about critiques and how to deal with them. It's a double edged sword and no mistake. You want people to read your work or you wouldn't be doing it, but you also want them to like it - or better still LOVE it - and anything less is a disappointment. When you get your first critical response the temptation is to throttle the bastard and curse them and all like them. If you've any sense you'll resist this urge and you'll find the sting wears off in a few days (or months, depending on how bad the crit and how sensitive a soul you are). Around that time some of the distasteful criticisms may start to make sense. Actually, you may think, that camel isn't necessary to the plot and perhaps six pages is a little long for the hero's closing speech.
We do need crits but sometimes they will hurt. It's human nature. If you care about your work, and of course you do, you won't appreciate some smart ass pointing out its flaws. That's what really hurts, of course. Someone spotted it before you did.
But if you stick with it you'll get better at spotting the flaws, which is the whole point of the exercise. That's why I believe critiquing other people's work is even more use to you than getting crits. It teaches you to look critically at a piece of writing, and before long you'll be doing the same with your own work.
In the end you have to be your own best critic. The better you get at this writing lark, the harder it is to find useful honest criticism unless it comes from a professional. But before they'll bother with you, you have to make that first step yourself.
Anyway, here's a link to a blog post by the lovely Nathan Bransford on this very subject. And being a pro he says it so much better than me.