Monday, May 6, 2013

How I Manage Critiques

            I’m sure everyone has their own methods when it comes to this, but when I receive feedback on a story of mine from critique partners, I use the following handy-dandy steps (yes, I just said “handy-dandy”).

1.      I read the critique.  And that’s basically all I do—nothing else.  No mulling over the ideas, no making notes—just read it.  I also go in knowing that some of it (if not all of it) will feel like fire-breathing dragons, so I mentally prepare myself for that so it’s easier to take.  That’s another reason I don’t do anything but read the critique.  No use having my brain try to wrap its way around all the overwhelming (if that happens to be the case) feedback.

2.      I let the critique sit for a day or so.  During this time, I don’t think about the critique, or at least I try not it.  Sometimes I simply can’t help but think about it, and if I do, I let myself go ahead (I mean, sometimes you just can’t do anything about it).

3.      I read the critique again—for the second time—and it’s apparent I have some ideas/opinions on some of the points (my brain usually has done some subconscious thinking—and I didn’t even know it had!).  The critique also doesn’t feel quite as much like fire-breathing dragons as it did the first time I read it, which is nice. This time I’ll make comments next to points I agree with, or ones I don’t.  Some I’ll note that I still need to think about or perhaps would like more opinions on it from other critique partners.

4.      I let the critique sit for another day or so.  And, again, I try not to think about it.

5.      I reread the critique again—third time, people—including my notes next to each point.  This time, I’m starting to really get a solid idea of what parts of the critique make sense to me and which ones don’t.  Which then leads me to…

6.      I brainstorm the points I feel are valid (or I agree with) and that I need to find a way to incorporate/weave into the story.  Once I have “solutions” for each of those points, I write them down alongside said points on the critique.  And then, finally…

7.      I incorporate the feedback into my story, going point-by-point.

            So there you have it.  Sometimes I might not take that much time away from the critique or maybe I’ll take even more time, but I think it’s a good idea to take at least some time to let things mull around in your brain.  It really is amazing how much subconscious work your brain does.  You should really be grateful it works so hard for you, you know?

            So…how do you manage your critiques?

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