A little while ago a writer friend of mine asked if I'd critique her story. I was thrilled and honored that she wanted my opinion. Of course I said yes.
To make a long story short, I sent her the first 25 pages a couple of days later, to which she replied what " wonderful, thoughtful, constructive feedback . . .". It made me smile and gush inside, feeling I had helped her. It took me longer to get pages 26- 109 to her. She wrote back stating she'd been revising the story for the past three days and was still working on it. Several days later, I sent her the rest. She didn't reply back in regards to the work. Uh oh. Did I tick her off? I know I can be really picky, I told her that in the beginning. I hope I didn't cross over the line. I didn't mean to if I did. Was she just being nice saying those things about the first section I did? It might be, she really is a sweet person. Did she never want to show me her work again? Would she still talk to me? Ah jeepers, my mind was going down that path of paranoia again.
Okay so it wasn't a full outright trek down that road but my toes did make contact with that path several times during the next few days. Then I received a request from her to look over her query letter. Hallelujah, she wasn't mad at me! Whew. Thank goodness. She went onto say she respected what I did, and even though she didn't agree with everything, it made her look at her work and justify why she kept some things. Fantastic! I had helped her in a couple of ways, one I didn't expect.
I'm telling you this because critiquing someone's work can be a touchy situation. You have to make sure they want an honest assessment and not a bunch of praise. You have to deliver your opinions/thoughts/feelings in a helpful way. Just like unwarranted praise, brutal honesty doesn't cut it here. How to Critique Fiction by Victory Crayne, is a very thorough site. It seems to cover everything so I won't go into it. It does state the list is merely a guideline and very few people try to address each subject on that list. I know I don't, but after looking at it, I'll be looking for more things. If it helps me become a better critique partner, why not.
What kind of critique partner are you? What strengths do you bring?
For those who follow the LIRW blog, sorry for the replication. As some of you know I've been busy with family. Thanks for understanding.