I just got home from one of the writing groups I’ve joined. A couple are based around getting together and just writing, this is the only one that is based on critiquing.
Now, I take critiquing very seriously. When I was in school I was very fortunate to have a series of really good english and creative writing teachers. They really pushed me to become a better writer, and almost more importantly to be better at giving and receiving constructive criticism. There’s almost an art to being able to read through someone’s writing, good or bad, and providing an opinion and suggestions.
When I’m doing a critique I’m reading really slowly, carefully, making notes along the way. I always come up with a few good points and a few suggestions. Even if I really like the piece, I always try to come up with at least a couple suggestions. Whether the writer uses them or not doesn’t matter, it’s about giving them a different perspective. We have to push each other if we’re going to improve.
Today, I handed out the first five pages of my NaNo project. It’s rough, I haven’t even given it a second look since writing it I told them all that as a disclaimer. I sat back and waited for the list of issues to roll in.
Their response, “It’s good.”
I asked if the descriptions were too heaver or too light. “No, they’re good.”
I asked if it flowed well. “Flow is good.”
I asked them for any suggestions. I got one, the transition from the first chapter to the second could be a little better.
Now, I know I’ve improved as a writer but there’s no way I’m that “good”. No, I think it says a lot more about the quality of the criticism than about the quality of the writing. That’s disappointing.