Critiquing well is a two way street, whether you’re using an editor, beta readers, or other writers as critiquing partners. The person giving the feedback needs to be willing to adjust it to meet the needs of the person he or she is giving the feedback too, and vice versa.
- Person #1 writes rough first drafts. He needs to get his ideas out on paper, not worrying about the line-to-line mistakes. Bogging him down with the “small” problems isn’t very helpful, because he already knows he needs to change those things. He wants “bigger picture” issues.
- Person #2 writes almost flawless first drafts that take her countless hours to write. She loves feedback, but sometimes she needs to work the problems out on her own. Once you point something out, let it go. She’ll decide what works best for her when she’s ready. She’s not a plotter, she’s a panser, and she’s fine with that.
- Person #3 writes minimalistic first drafts. It’s hard sometimes to determine exactly what she wants. Usually a combination of line edits and overall feedback works best, but chances are she’ll end up rewriting it multiple times before it’s where she want. That’s simply her process.
- Person #4 tries to make fully flushed out drafts. Sometimes he hits the mark, and sometimes he doesn’t. He usually likes line edits and larger edits, although his drafts are usually pretty clean.
If a critiquer doesn’t understand what the other person needs, it isn’t very helpful. Both parties need to have open communication, or seeds of annoyance can grow on both sides. So the best thing a writer can do is say exactly what they need.
- This is rough, so don’t worry about line edits. Focus on the bigger person
- This should be clean. But what are your impressions of the main character, setting, and overall plot?
Sometimes open communication can fix it all. Sometimes personalities simply don’t work together, no matter what. And sometimes… you strike gold and work together flawlessly. You never know until you put yourself out there and try.