Critique Circle.com. For those of you that are not familiar with this site, it is a free website where writers can post their work for others to review. You earn points for reviewing other people’s chapters or short stories and then use those points to post your own work. It’s a great place to get many critiques on individual chapters in a short amount of time. Your pages are up for one week and can be critiqued by as many as six critiques as a newbie, and an unlimited amount as you move out of that queue. On average, I normally receive about 5 or 6.
What I find the most interesting is the range of those critiques, which is true with all critique groups. Each of them provides great insight, and what I can take from them is invaluable. I have received four different critiques so far, but they are so varied from each other that they remind me of this season of American Idol.
RANDY: Dog, that was a hot one right there! I’m blown away. (Stand up, chair falls over)
ELLEN: That was great. Not what I would have done. Maybe exactly the same, but completely different. But I like you. (Awkwardly looks to Kara.)
KARA: I expected a little more, but I think it is a 100% improvement from before. (Cuddles up closer to Simon.) But you can do better. (Pushes Simon away.)
SIMON: Look, that was complete rubbish. I don’t know what I prayed for more—for it to end or for a power outage.
(Ok, I didn’t get any Simon’s. Thank goodness!! But I have in the past, and when I first started. I’m still traumatized. Haha.)
What is even funnier is that the site has a wonderful feature that allows you to combine all of the inline critiques into one document. Fantastic. Ok, that’s not the funny part. The funny part is that there was one line in particular that all four critiquers commented on. Two absolutely loved it with multiple exclamation marks, and the other two “didn’t get it” and it “just wasn’t working for me, dog.” That last one is not really a quote from the site. But you get the idea.
So what do you do?
--There are some things where they all pointed out the exact same thing. That’s easy – fix it.
--If one person points something out that no one else has ever touched on, I listen with both ears. I mull it over and see if there is validity to it.
--Split 50/50 – I have to follow my gut, listening to the arguments from both sides, and do what I think is right for my story.
--A mixed review? You can’t always just go with majority. Each review is slightly weighted. Do they read the genre; what is their experience; how far down the path are they; do they “get” my quirkiness? (Some people just don’t, and that’s ok.) But never discard based on any of those facts nor use them to just do whatever the heck you want. You have to listen, but the application of these critiques has to be well thought out.
--Lastly, don’t touch anything until it’s all had time to simmer. What may have earned an eye roll when you first read it – may turn out to be the best piece of advice you receive.
What may come from these critiques could be simple line edits (misplaced question mark that everybody except me caught) or major rewrites. Time will tell. I will tell you what I have learned so far--this is getting much closer to finished. Maybe just one more round. :-)
So, what do you do when you get conflicting critiques? What type of critique group are you in?