Critiques! Should I be completely honest?

images-2I’m a member of Scribophile. If you don’t know what that is, and you are really interested in writing and getting feedback, Scribophile is the place to be. It’s like Facebook for writers. You do critiques and in turn others critique your work. I wish I had found it years ago. You get some so so critiques, but you also get a lot of good ones from people who know what they are doing. At any rate this blog wasn’t suppose to be an infomercial for Scribophile.

I did a critique yesterday, and I felt awful when I was done.  The young lady who wrote it obviously had writing skills. Her descriptives, imagery, and grammar were better than mine. She could string a perfect sentence together, but that seemed to be were it ended. I read her premise which was a good one, but way overused.

The entire segment of 2600 words which followed another segment of the same length covered her main character’s flight on a plane to Italy. Now if the story was taking place in that plane or for some reason all of the characters in that plane and what they did was important, I wouldn’t be writing this particular blog. But they are not, the plane is just getting her to Italy so she can find the love of her life. Again it was very well written, and I could picture myself and all of those different people on the plane.

I am what I call a skipper, I have no problem skipping over complete paragraphs of exposition to get to the good stuff. I would have skipped most of what she had written, even though it was written beautifully. I didn’t for the sake of the critique.

While I tried to be nice in my summary and point out all of the things great about her work, I felt as if I wouldn’t be doing her justice by letting it end at that. So I told her what I would want someone to tell me.

Your writing is great but the pace is nonexistent. I feel like I’m stuck on that plane and want to get off. You’re providing too much detail and putting a lot of time and energy into characters that we will never see again. You are giving great back story, but it’s too much at once. You do not need to give us a step by step account of everything that happens from the minute she gets on the plane to the minute she gets off.

I will continue to be honest with writers about their work in what I hope is a constructive manner. I don’t want to discourage anybody, but I want ignore major flaws to avoid hurt feelings either.

What do you think?  Would you want someone to tell you everything is great in your novel when it’s not, or would you want the truth, even if it hurt?

-Jan R


Critiques! Should I be completely honest?

6 thoughts on “Critiques! Should I be completely honest?

  1. I think we all profit from good critiques which include the good with the bad. As you pointed out to the above writer, she had beautiful prose. What I don’t like is a one-sided critique. Those I fear are subjective, based on the reviewer’s preferences and rarely objective. I hope there is always something, no matter how small, that I capitalise to my strengthen my writing. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I want honest feedback. I give honest feedback. If that feedback means something in my story isn’t working, then I want to know it. I’m in the business of selling stories. I sell more stories and help other writers sell more stories by fixing and pointing out what is holding the story back for the readers.

    Writers who only want to hear what is good and get bent out of shape hurt when they hear the not so good, will never grow to become the storyteller they think they already are. No one writes a perfect first draft. No one. Even Stephen King has an editor.

    Being honest is the way to go. If the writer cannot take it, then that’s their problem. Sooner rather than later they will feel the slap of rejection instead of the sting from a good, honest critique.

    Liked by 1 person

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