Skip to main content

Critiquing Objectively

The Daily Writer by Fred White

Critiquing objectively is not the contradiction in terms that it seems to be. True, critiquing or evaluation of any kind is an expression of one’s sense of quality and excellence and taste—criteria that are self-evidently subjective. On the other hand, by following widely adopted standards of story and character development, use of dialogue, back-story, suspense-building and so on, it is possible to avoid overly subjective feedback.

Image placeholder title

By being an objective critic, you are in effect telling the writer under scrutiny, “Let me remind you of these tried-and-true-criteria; see if they work. If you don’t think they do, then ignore them.”

FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
Objectivity and subjectivity are relative terms; that is, they exist in degrees of one or the other (Think of a spectrum—total objectivity at one end, total subjectivity at the other, with each end of the spectrum registering zero.) There is always the risk, when critiquing a fellow writer’s work, of working too closely at the subjective end of the spectrum. The ideal is operate somewhere near the middle, to draw as little as possible from personal taste and more from mainstream standards of good storytelling or idea development, as the case may be.

TRY THIS
Prepare a list of “objective” criteria for evaluating a short story or essay. (This becomes tougher with poetry. Use this list as a springboard for evaluating a fellow writer’s work; it will prevent you from becoming too subjective.

10 Tips for Building a Realistic and Vibrant Fictional World

10 Tips for Building a Realistic and Vibrant Fictional World

World-building of any kind can seem like a daunting task. Here, author Nalini Singh shares 10 tips for building a realistic and vibrant fictional world.

Adalyn Grace: On Writing for Escape

Adalyn Grace: On Writing for Escape

New York Times bestselling author Adalyn Grace discusses combining her favorite genres into her new YA fantasy novel, Belladonna.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Our September/October Cover Reveal, a Competition Deadline Reminder, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our September/October 2022 cover, a competition deadline reminder, and more!

Writing Nonfiction History vs. Historical Fiction

Writing Nonfiction History vs. Historical Fiction

Author John Cameron discusses how nonfiction history and historical fiction are more similar than they are different.

Bob Eckstein | Publishing Survival Tips

Top 10+ Survival Tips for Publishing

Poignant advice from some of the funniest people in publishing.

Zac Bissonnette: On the Passionate Community of Mystery Lovers

Zac Bissonnette: On the Passionate Community of Mystery Lovers

New York Times bestselling author Zac Bissonnette discusses the process of writing his new cozy mystery, A Killing in Costumes.

My Long, Winding, and Very Crooked Writing Journey

My Long, Winding, and Very Crooked Writing Journey

Every writer’s publishing story is different. Here, author Sharon M. Peterson shares her journey from writing to publishing.

Jeff Adams | Writer's Digest Indie Author Spotlight

Jeff Adams: Publishing Advice for Indie Authors

In this Indie Author Profile, romance novelist Jeff Adams shares his path to independent publishing and his advice for others considering that path.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Writer's Digest July/Aug 2022

The WD Interview: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The bestselling author of Mexican Gothic shares her approach to world-building, character development, and what she’s learned about the business of writing in this interview from the July/August 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.