Critiquing

One of the best ways to improve your writing (other than actually getting a formal education and reading lots and lots of books on craft) is through critiquing.

As a writer it is so hard to distance yourself from your own work. You can edit to your hearts content and still miss things.

Through critiquing, we train our eyes to look for problems. Is there too much passive voice? Are there too many echos? Is there an obvious abuse of the dreaded -ly's? Do we lean on crutch words? Does the dialogue sound too wooden or forced?

I've noticed that after a good session of critiquing, I can return to my own work with a stronger critical eye.

I begin to see the things wrong with my own work and often, while making my notes, notice that I am giving myself the same or similar advice that I gave in my critique of others.

It's not 100% fool proof. I'll still never catch all of my mistakes, but the process helps me get closer to something that will be ready to submit.

And also, let' not forget the other benefit of participating in a critiquing group. What we don't catch ourselves, others will likely catch.

Comments

Strange Fiction said…
Great post! I agree, the back and forth critiquing between writers really helps. I've got eight long months of winter coming up and I'm hoping to find some new critique partners.
Jenna Alexander said…
Yes. Great reminder. I need to get back to reviewing stories. Back when I was more active on Critique Circle I learned a lot by critiquing other peoples’ work. It really seems to help a lot too when you follow a particular writer.

Katie – remember the guy on there that wrote horror? I learned a lot about pacing by reviewing his work. He needed to work on it. I felt he had some good storylines and they could have been much more powerful if his tension and pacing were improved. That really helped me think about my storylines growing and building. Whether it’s fear, love, hopelessness, etc… I try to give the story a steady climb.
Jessica said…
Very true. I love critting stuff. Not only because I see stuff like you mentioned, but also if the characters aren't hitting me right or the conflict seems contrived, then I go back to my own and try to strengthen those things.
Great post Katie. :-)
Lazy Writer said…
I just started critiquing a couple of people's work, and you are so right. After I've looked over their stuff, I find myself looking at my own work a little closer. It's great!
B.J. Anderson said…
I agree with this 100%! I don't know what I'd do without my critique buddies.
Great advice! I can't survive without my crit group. I've learned so much from them as you've pointed out.

I've given you an award that was given to me by Suzette Saxon, who is a team member of the Query Tracker Blog. Check out my blog www.stinalindenblatt.com to see how to accept it.
Lady Glamis said…
Oh, I agree! I've learned so much through critiquing other work. It has definitely helped my writing both on the giving and receiving ends.
quixotic said…
Strange - Have you ever considered looking at a crit site like CC or are you looking to start a crit group for the winter?

Jenna - Yes I remember that guy. And I miss you in the queues.

Jessica & Lazy Writer - Yep. I feel the same way. As soon as I get back to my own piece I start working on making my work stronger.

B.J. & Lady Glamis - =)

Stina - Oh cool. Thank you. I will go check it out!
FictionGroupie said…
Great post. I just joined a crit group for my romance stuff and am also doing beta exchanging for my YA. It's been so helpful so far. Not just hearing people's feedback, but also using my own eye on their work.
Okie said…
I LOVE critique groups...my two problems are finding the time and finding the right group. When I can get both of those to miraculously come into focus, I have a great experience.