"Do you love every comment your critique partners have made? Do you have to make every change they've suggested?"

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Critique groups. Sometimes a source of brilliant feedback, and sometimes, well, a source of literary torture. Once you get your material workshopped and head home, how do you sort through the ink-scrawled suggestions and find some clarity, or at least avoid a brutal internal battle? It’s the latest from Promptly’s Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010 series (the quote-worthy quips that branded themselves in my mind when we were creating these magazines throughout the year). A regular prompt follows.

No. 11: Critique Conundrums
“Do you love every comment your critique partners have made? I doubt it. Do you have to make every change they’ve suggested? You do not. Much of the critique feedback you receive will make you happy. Maybe not at first, but a high percentage will eventually make sense and help you strengthen your story.

"At some point, though, someone is going to make a suggestion you really don’t like. You’ll sit with it for a while, you’ll think about it, and you still won’t like it. It doesn’t fit your vision; it threatens to take the story in a direction that feels wrong; it doesn’t mesh with who you know your hero to be.
Don’t make the change. Let the comment go. This is your book, and you’re in charge. Honest!

"On the other hand … You signed up for this. You’re the one who hunted for this critique group. You’ve asked these people to read your chapters, to think about them and to get back to you. So really, you’d better listen to them.
When it’s your turn to be critiqued, go in with as open a mind as possible. This doesn’t mean you have to sit through the meeting smiling at every word your critique partners speak. But it does mean you pay attention, take notes and wait until you’re out the door before saying any of those swear words out loud.

"It also means that, when you are ready to revise, you take the time to consider each and every comment. Thoroughly. … Listen to your gut, but also listen to your critiquers. The combination of your writing and their responses is the magic of revision."
—Becky Levine, “How to Revise From a Critique,” October 2010 (click here to check the rest of the article out)

(Image: Hiuppo [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons)

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WRITING PROMPT:Midnight Madness
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional
around-the-office swag drawings (next one: next week!). If you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

At a midnight showing of a movie, something happens that wasn’t part of the script.


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