Don’t Hate the Messenger
By Susan Kralovansky
One tough but necessary part of the writing process is receiving feedback. Unless you are a genius or an idiot, as my high school English teacher used to say, you can’t do your writing in a vacuum. It takes a village to produce print- worthy work, and your critique group is there to help.
You hope your manuscript will be universally loved. You want to hear, “This is perfect! Absolutely perfect!” but that’s not reality. Nearly every critique partner, editor, or agent will have an opinion on your work. Don’t get angry over the feedback given. Accept those nuggets you believe are valid and use those as a plan for revisions.
On the other hand, it’s not always easy to give feedback. The critiquer’s job is to be both helpful and honest. If you see a problem, say so, but be specific on why you find it awkward.
A great technique for constructive criticism is called the "sandwich method", in which you sandwich the criticism between two positive comments. Instead of saying "You did a lousy job writing this biography," using the sandwich method, you say "You did a great job on the introduction. The section on her childhood seemed to drag. With a bit more work, I'm sure you can tighten up that segment."
Remember: Critiquing makes you a better writer. And, being open to criticism also makes you a better writer.
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