Critiques! Should I Be Completely Honest? (revised)

imageshu6grmxrIf you want to be an author, you had better develop a thick skin or at least pretend to. You will be rejected, and you will receive critiques that can be discouraging, but this is part of the process. Being a novice to writing, I probably got a double portion of both. I’m glad people were honest with me. I am a much better writer because my critique partners told me the truth.

I did a critique a while back and struggled with submitting my remarks. The person that I completed the critique for was proud of her work, and I didn’t want to be the one to pop her balloon.  She had great 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 were not, the plane was just getting her to Italy so she could 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 and there were many, 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 too much time and energy into characters that we will never see again. 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 , and while your back story is great, it’s too much at one time.

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 won’t ignore major flaws that will set them up for failure, 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? (revised)

7 thoughts on “Critiques! Should I Be Completely Honest? (revised)

  1. I have to go with the truth, even when it can be difficult to take. From my experience with criticism, writing related and otherwise, what hurts most is usually the most accurate confirmation of what you know deep down inside. I belong to a writing group and we critique each other’s work on a regular basis and are all comfortable and confident enough to identify what is working and what can be improved. The feedback is invaluable to improving the final piece. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I want the truth. However, I want the truth from someone with an informed opinion, someone who actually read my writing before offering feedback.

    I KNOW that my writing isn’t perfect and that it isn’t to every reader’s taste. Even if someone loves everything about one of my stories, I want to know what they liked and WHY, so I can keep doing what works. If they don’t like something, I want to know why they didn’t like it, because the reason does matter: ‘I don’t like this because it’s not a genre I’m interested in’ is different from ‘I don’t like this because the plot doesn’t hang together.’

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I want the unfiltered truth, and I want it sooner rather than later. Months ago, I forwarded an early draft of my first chapter to my cousin, my go-to pair of eyes for critique (he is a published author, so it’s in his wheelhouse). He told me what I did well, but he pointed out flaws where he saw them and wrote up a thorough analysis of what worked and did not work. His criticism, due to its honesty, resonated. My writing is better for it. So, in short, I want the truth!

    Liked by 2 people

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