Dear fellow Fictioneers,
In light of some comment-conversations a couple of weeks ago, I have approached Rochelle about the possibility of creating a group-within-a-group for those wishing to bring back the critiquing element to Friday Fiction. I address this to you with Rochelle’s approval, but if you have comments, questions or concerns, please come to me first so we don’t add to her workload.
I want to first say that it is not my intention to take anything away from the group as it stands, or Rochelle’s incredible leadership of it. For those of you who like things just as they are, you need read no further, nothing will change for you.
If you would appreciate honest and constructive feedback on your stories, I’m proposing a way to indicate a willingness to be part of the critiquing group for that week. Signing up would mean you commit to reading and leaving constructive criticism on at least 3 other stories from the subgroup. And to graciously receive any constructive criticism left on your story.
Some FAQs follow. I look forward to critiquing with many of you in the future!
How do I join in?
Put a capital “C” in before your name on the linky widget. Eg “C Jennifer Pendergast”. Then check the list and choose 3 other “C” stories to critique over the course of the week until the next prompt goes up. Read the story, start your comment with “C…”, and leave something constructive and helpful for the author (see more below about that!)
But I want to read more than 3 stories!
Great! You can of course read (with or without critique) as many other stories as you like, whether they have a “C” or not, and leave all your usual fantastic comments when you do. You can also critique more than 3 of the “C” stories if you want to, 3 is just the minimum.
I don’t have time / don’t want constructive criticism every week!
No problem. You can choose on a weekly basis whether to put the “C” before your name.
I don’t want to join in, can I still read the “C” stories?
Definitely. You can still read and leave whatever type of comment you would normally. Even those of us who love critique enjoy shorter comments too.
How does this differ from the Friday Fiction group I know and love?
It doesn’t really – we’ll still use Rochelle’s excellent prompts, linky and leadership. The only change is for those who want to focus a bit more on constructive criticism.
Sounds great, but I don’t know how to give constructive criticism / I’m not confident in my own language skills
I will try to add some “How to’s” to my blog over the next little while, but there’s really not much to it.
You don’t need to be an English teacher to give constructive criticism – all you need to be is a reader! If you’re not sure where to begin, focus on how you reacted to the writing: Where did you stumble over the wording? Which parts did you need to read twice to understand (or still not understand even then)? Did you have a clear idea of the character / place / story (depending on which elements are important to you/the story)? Was there anything that surprised or frustrated you?
Not all concrit is negative; it is just as useful to praise parts of the story that resonated, struck you as interesting or unusual, or created a really clear picture in your mind. The important thing is to be specific – not just “great story” or “well-written,” but instead, point out the phrase or words that gave you that impression.
If it’s still tough, try finding one thing you liked and one you thought could be improved. You can also give suggestions on how it could be improved, but that’s less important.
I worry it will be taken the wrong way if I give honest feedback.
Try to remember that the criticism is of the writing, not the writer. Critique is not a way of saying “You’re a terrible writer,”; it’s a way of saying “this piece could be better,” and of helping each other achieve our full potential as writers. And let’s face it, even the best writing could be improved.
By signing up to the sub-group in a given week, we are committing not just to give, but to graciously receive feedback. That means thanking the person who took the time to read, digest and comment on your story, and it means agreeing not to take offense or get upset if someone doesn’t like some or all of what you wrote. Even if you don’t agree with them.
Ultimately, the final decision rests with the author. S/he is totally within their rights to disagree with the criticism, or to agree but prefer to leave the story as it is. Critique is just one person’s opinion and that’s valuable, in showing you where to focus, but it doesn’t mean what you did is necessarily wrong for everyone. You can make a change, open a debate or just say “thanks but no thanks”. Either way, you are graciously acknowledging the time and effort the commenter put into commenting.