Saturday, July 3, 2010

You -- Yes, YOU -- Are A Fabulous Critiquer

How do I know? Because you're a reader.

Even if you don't think you have anything important to contribute to a query critique because you can't write a decent query yourself, think again!

You know what interests you as a reader. Does the query make you want to find out more? Is it missing that certain zzzzinggg that makes you disappointed there aren't any pages here to read? Even if you can't pinpoint what that zing is, you can let the author know whether it's working for you or not.

Even if someone's said it already, it doesn't hurt to say it again. One person's opinion is debatable; five or six people saying it tells the author they have a problem -- or they've gotten it right.

I credit my critique group with helping us understand the difference between "piling on" and "validating". A simple "I agree (or disagree) with Commenter A about Issue X" will help even if you don't add more than that.

Anonymous comments carry weight, too. Just keep everything civil -- it's the work you're questioning, not the author's morals or politics or IQ.

Ease yourself into critiquing anonymously if you're more comfortable doing that. I was afraid of being laughed at, of not "getting" something that everyone else seemed to be getting, and of any number of insecurities that came from being vocal and sort of identifiable in the comments when I first started out.

So I was anonymous for awhile. Then I chose a name that my comments could be identified with and used that for awhile longer. Eventually I moved to a Blogger profile and link. But even an unlinked name that you use consistently helps people get used to seeing you around and start looking forward to hearing from you. I quite recommend that, but anonymous works, too.

Commenting on the queries here would be great. I know the authors would love to hear more than just my opinion ;o) and critiquing others really helps you refine your own work. But if time is limited, do try to comment somewhere if not here. The connections you make mingling in the comments can be invaluable.

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who IS commenting here. And a BIG THANK YOU, too, to those of you who are lurking. Because as I see it, y'all are just critters-in-waiting. Right?


Michelle Massaro said...

Here here! Thanks for posting this!


Anonymous said...

Yes, as writers we are first readers. Although I do not feel qualified to "critique" I do know if something doesn't feel right or hits me in a good way or bad way I can comment, I hope in a constructive way. I think I am getting better on commenting, like queries, takes time to season and be helpful and understrand we are all struggling with this thing we do. Beats doing the laundry. Best, Bibi

Phoenix said...

Beats doing the laundry.

Ha! I love it!

Michelle Massaro said...

Sometimes it even beats working on your own query... but that's not always a good thing! =)

fairyhedgehog said...

I often think I've got nothing to say because I'm not an experienced writer. I tend to forget that I can at least say how the story looks to one reader. So thanks for this. I'll try to be better at commenting!

Whirlochre said...

The repetition of points is often the most valuable thing to receive as a critted writer. Multiplied into a potential readership, they reveal the standorfallness of a particular project/phrase/character etc.

sylvia said...

I'm still here. I'm far enough behind that I tend not to want to wake up old comment threads unless there's something I *really* want to add. But I wanted you to know I was lurking. :D