Be A Sponge: How to be critiqued gracefully

Some people are nice enough to read through your garbage wonderful masterpiece and tell you exactly what was wrong with it in the most structured, well-thought manner. Those people are hard to come by even if you have joined a community writing website where millions of people log on to write or read every day.

But when you do find those people gems who have given critiques before, and ask for their critique, there are some things you need to keep in mind:

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Humble pup

1. First, swallow your pride. Make yourself super humble.

Not even J. K. Rowling or Stephen King started out writing the way they are today. Nobody is perfect and nobody starts out perfect. You, my friend, are not an exception either. That fifth draft of yours’ is still as unprepared for publishing as your first draft. You are not ready and you are not perfect.


 

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This is you.

2. Second, absorb critiques like a sponge.

Especially from a critiquer who has critiqued many times before. They know what they are talking about. Just soak it all up. Even the ones that are a little bit chunky and hard to soak, still soak it. You’re a sponge…but thankfully not Auntie Sponge from James and the Giant Peach. Ever wonder why the author chose a peach?


 

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Welcome Critique with open arms.

3. Third, don’t defend.

“So, Character A takes the bottle from MC (main character) but then you have the same bottle later after it breaks. I’m a bit confused. Maybe you could–”

“NO! I disagree. It’s MY BOOK.”

“B-but, other people will get confus–”

“This one other person didn’t have ANY ISSUES with that. I don’t see why I need to…”

“Okay! Okay!” *raises hands in defense* “It’s your book.”

The poor critiquer is just trying to help. And yes, it is your book, you can do it the way you want to, but you can’t go by one other person’s word. Just because they said nothing’s wrong, doesn’t mean nothing’s wrong. Just because the critiquer said this is wrong, doesn’t mean it is either. So take it with a grain of salt until you’ve asked about ten people.

The hardest thing about critiquing sometimes is how defensive people can get when you are just trying to help.

Most GOOD critiquers will give a general observation and not so much their personal opinion.


 

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Not one kitten, many kittens.

4. Four, don’t go by the word of one person.

Like, just because I said this needs fixing doesn’t mean you definitely need to do it. In the end, your book. Critiquers are merely suggesting. Just like the green light doesn’t mean you HAVE TO go. It means you MAY GO if it is safe. So you don’t HAVE TO take the advice but you MAY if you think it’s necessary. And it’ll be good if you can get some critique from more kittens critiquers.


 

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“Thank you!”

5. Five, thank them.

They spent a HECK of time critiquing YOUR writing for YOU. Thank them. It’s only polite. But, don’t go all sarcastic on them. Don’t say, “I disagree with you but thanks anyway.” Remember 2 and 3. You absorb and don’t defend. And then, you say thank you.

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