What is a critique? Critique is a french word, as a noun meaning an article or essay criticizing a literary or other work; detailed evaluation; review, or a criticism or critical comment on some problem, subject, etc. Also the art or practice of criticism. The word critique as a verb means to review or analyze critically.
Don’t cringe. While this doesn’t sound like the proverbial day at the beach, a critique or critiquing is good for writers. Join a group or find a critique partner. Lay down your pride. Listen. Decide. Rewrite. Your work will only improve.
Several years ago, I decided this would be good for me and joined a large online critique group. After acclimating myself to the art of critiquing, I joined a smaller group. Our group consists of six writers from all over the United States. Here’s an example of a typical session.
I have a chapter in my novel that needs to be tightened, so I take that chapter and copy and paste it into another document. I address the email to my critique group and attach this chapter as a sub [submission] with book title, chapter number, and word count. Some groups will want genre included. Adding a note begging for mercy, I push send and let it go. 🙂
Within a few hours or days, I’ll receive replies titled “crit” or “critique”. We all use “track changes” which is an editing command commonly used when you create an original document and make changes and want to keep track of the changes that are made to that original document. It is also a useful tool for collaborating on a document, as it allows multiple users to make revisions without losing the context of the original document.
I open the critique, enable editing, and see comments and suggestions, positive and negative, highlighted on the document. I study each comment, correcting bad grammar, POV slips, and wordiness. Some suggestions are subjective and I usually wait until all my critiques are in before I make a final decision on changing that part of the story. If several of my critique partners comment on the same passage, I probably need to tweak it, at least. Soon, I have a tighter, cleaner manuscript. I’m one step closer to seeing my work in print.
I now share critiques with a small group of author friends and the critiques are more intense than ever. We are all published and know that our manuscripts must be at their very best.
Though painful, the art of critique is necessary in this writer’s eyes to the success or lack thereof in this journey toward publication.