Friends and Family Plan – The Critique

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form] Let’s face it, as a writer, one of the more difficult tasks is getting a critique of our work. We stare aimlessly into the void that is our computer screen and silently ask ourselves, “Who the hell is gonna read this for me?” Then we look around to make sure we were alone because, after all, we really don’t want anyone knowing we talk to ourselves. There are several reasons why we shouldn’t consider our family or friends for the arduous task of critiquing. OKAY, unless one of them is a professor of English or something like that. Haha, you got me… Happy?

5 reasons why handing your writing to friends or family for critique isn’t always the best idea.

1. Honesty is not the best policy.
We say it is, but when family or friends are involved, they tend to tell us what we want to hear. It’s YOU and they like YOU. Their objectivity goes out the window. If they don’t like you, then you have bigger problems. Why don’t people like you? In essence, yes, your friends and family will lie to you. Whatever, we all do it. They don’t like you anyway.

2. Your parents think you’re special.
They’ve said it since you were born. They’ll probably say it ’til your old and wrinkly. If they think you’re special, then everything you do is special. That includes whatever incomprehensible dribble-drabble you put on paper.

3. You will defend because you know these people.
You will, at one point or another, defend your shit writing and get them to see your POV. You’ll wrangle until you finagle them to your side. In turn, they will no longer want to read your work. Ever. You might even get stabby with them if they don’t get your writing. Be responsive, not defensive.

4. “Did you read it?”
Here’s the other fine point of handing off to these people for critique: if they don’t get back to you on your timeline, you will undoubtedly ask this lonely question. It’s odd. It’s embarrassing. It’s dreadful. It’s demeaning (for you). It makes you look like a used car salesman from the 80s. Having to track people down for this question makes you seem, well, desperate.

5. “You can’t handle the truth!”
You will either get a friendly review or the sacred bluntness that scares you. “I liked it.” “Good story.” “The characters were good.” “I could relate.” Those are not critiques. Those are not reviews. Those are simply words of gratification to satisfy your fragile ego from people who do not want to hurt your feelings. On the opposite, you may receive the sharpness that only adds to your pain as a writer. “Character ‘A’ didn’t work with character ‘B’.” If you spent countless hours developing your characters, this will sting; however, it will force you to analyze your character development within the plot. Wipe your tears and get to work!

To become a better writer, break free of your inner circle. If you’re a tight-fisted, fingers-clinging-to-the-paper-edges writer who doesn’t want anyone to read anything until it’s completely done, fine. That’s your style so stick to it. If you’re a writer who searches for critique while you’re still writing, then be open to negative and honest critiques. Those are usually the best and most helpful of all.

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