Critting - Holy Crap On a Stick, Batman!

(Photo courtesy of http://www.rainbowpatches.com)

When I go over to the Absolute Write boards, I occasionally crit stuff on the Share Your Work part of the board. (It's password protected, BTW.) And, occasionally, I get what are known as rep points, which are given out by people there for good answers or whatever.

I don't go out of my way to get these points, but it's nice to receive them here and there.

A 21st-Century Fairy Tale

I critted something last month and hadn't been back to that particular story because, well, I get cobwebs of the brain from time to time. Anyway, I thought the story was cute; it was a 21st-century fairy tale (I love fairy tales). Not only that, but the writer's first language wasn't English, and to me, kudos to him/her for trying something not in his/her native tongue!

I usually do line crits, because that's what I'm good at. (If someone states at the beginning of their post that they're not interested in line crits, then I either stay away from that story altogether or I try to give what they're looking for.) This person didn't have anything that indicated such a thing, so I gave my usual.

And My Usual Is...

I always start off a crit by stating that it's my opinion, and that I could be completely wrong in my perception. I also let the writer know that they can toss anything that sounds stupid or ridiculous, but that I hope I provide something that'll help them.

And it works both ways; if I see something that they're doing well, I hope to use that in my writing. The same thing goes if they're doing something that isn't working: Is this something I should be careful about in my writing? This, I feel, is a good way to get better as a writer, especially if you eventually want to be commercially published.

Imagine My Chagrin

Here we are about a little over a month later, and I find out that this person has been bad mouthing me and my crit.

A harmless little bunny like me?

He/she asks who the hell I am, who were/are my writing mentors, am I normal/do I read like a normal person (hmm...you got me on that one...I do consider myself a weirdo chick, whether it comes to reading, writing, or 'rithmetic) - and on and on.

It was nice to see others there coming to my defense, because, well, I try to inject humor in my crits, too, with a lot of it directed at myself. (I'm a glutton for punishment, heh. ;-)) In that way, the person being critted can amuse themselves at my expense; it's tough having your stuff critted.

Believe me, I know. I used to belong to one of the paid online crit groups, and some people there could be quite brutal. But most people there gave the good with the bad, and did it in such a way that it was respectful.

That's Where I Learned My Critting Style

The last thing I would ever, ever want to do is to tell someone that their writing isn't up to snuff; I don't want to be the person to burst their dream. (And I didn't think this person's writing was that bad; a bit of tweaking and reading up more on the English language, and I think he/she would've had a perfectly fun story.)

Hell, it's tough enough fleshing out ideas. I've got two ideas I've put into a couple of Word documents so I don't forget 'em. They're just not beyond the idea stage as yet.

And they might never be.

So when I signed up for that online crit group, I figured I'd learn two things:
  • I'd learn how to crit the correct way
  • I'd see if my writing had any sort of merit
That I also learned what worked and what didn't work in someone else's writing pointed me back to my own writing. So, the person being critted gets something out of it, but the person critting gets something out of it, too.

It's a great way to move your writing along - as long as you can stand to have your baby out there. That part of the equation is not easy, so I admire anyone who has the stones to do it.

Pardon moi, but methinks I owe some rep points to some peoples...

~Nancy Beck