Monday, October 17, 2011

Crit. Groups vs. Emails

I love reading other peoples' work, especially when it shows promise.  As I mentioned last week, I'm now a part of a critique group, and I got the chance to read and critique three very interesting stories.  I like critique groups, especially when I get to meet with them face to face.  Let me explain why:

I have given some very direct advice and tips on how I think a story could be improved (of course I mention what's working, and what I REALLY love!).  But without inflection, facial expressions, and the opportunity to ask in-depth questions, I always worry that I'm being blunt and even coming across as negative.

It's something I've struggled with as I beta-read that book I've been telling all of you about.  As I said, I'm excited about this book, but because it's a first draft, it does need work.  I hate nitpicking, and I hate telling her things that could come across as negative, and I'm afraid I might be sugarcoating my critiques in places just to keep myself from sounding rude.

It's definitely a rough balance, I whenever I click send on my critique emails, I'm satisfied that I'm getting my point of view across, but it still concerns me at times.  Which is why I'm SO excited to get into a roundtable discussion with my new crit. group tomorrow evening.

Question of the week: What do you like about emailing critiques over sitting at a table with your group? What do you like about face-time over email? I'll join in the discussion as much as I can, but I encourage you to have at it in the comments!


  1. I have a hard shell, so I take feedback well, but I enjoy being face-to-face with my writing partner. We meet each week and trust each other so well. We will give honest feedback. I've also read several stories for people I've never met, and I try to be positive first and then suggest areas of improvement. Some people do have a hard time accepting criticism, and I'd rather be encouraging, do it's not always easy.

  2. I've never done face to face, so I can't compare the 2. I understand about the e-mails. My CP lives on the other side of the country. I hope that my points are taken, and nothing is lost in the e-mail. I do wish I could do more question and answer, back and forth sometimes.

    Hope you have fun at your group!

  3. Miranda, you gave me very positive notes! I accept criticism well, sometimes, and it always makes me happy to receive any feedback. I just hate it when people are jerks (which doesn't happen very often). That's why I try to sound so positive when I'm writing notes, though.

    Jenny, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way :)

  4. Hmm...okay, I have only had successful CPs over email and partially because I need the time to let things sit and for me to re-read them. If I get face to face feedback, I can be defensive and forget that they are trying to help.
    Also, I think most people have thick skin and will take any advice as helpful if you are genuine with it. I wouldn't worry about the negativity, esp in a first draft.

  5. I like face to face time SO much better. Like you said, it's hard to convey emotions, so I'm always worried I sound harsh in an email. And I just like getting together with other writers and talk writer talk. Great blog you have! :)