Saturday, January 1, 2011

Guest Post: When Good Comments Go Bad

Wilkins MacQueen (Mac), who has an interesting analogy related to query writing, offers her perspective on critiquing queries.

I respect comments from people with more experience and wisdom than I have. I try to comment honestly, as a fellow writer struggling as you are. I want to be helpful. I want you to succeed as I think you would like me to succeed. I like to encourage fledglings but not to the extent I will comprise what I believe is not well presented or well written in your query.

I try to be kind and hope you will take my comments and read them carefully. My comments may have taken me an hour or two to write because I want you to understand I appreciate your work and effort. My comments may be two lines or less but know I have thought about them and read your work many, many times before I hit publish.

So please, don't feel rejection or hurt. This is all about helping each other every step of the way. We don't scorn, mock or laugh. Contempt is not in us. We all want YOU to succeed. So please don't criticize the ones who carefully go over your work, and if you are one of those who do carefully read the work of others, be respectful of others' comments. There is no place I know of to trash the folks who mean so very well.

This is very subjective work. We do it for the joy of helping. Take our comments and use them if they are useful, discard them if they are not but please know we want to see you published and hope we had a hand in it helping on your way.


McKoala said...

Ak, critiquing is so hard to do! I don't do as much as I used to, just because it can be such a huge investment in time - reading, thinking, encouraging - and yet offering input that a writer can use. I really appreciate anyone that takes the time to do it for me, or for anybody else.

Sarah Laurenson said...

It's hard to do and it's hard to take. It all takes practice. Hopefully we can practice together in a supportive atmosphere.

vkw said...

Here is the bottom line -

If a writer doesn't want constructive input they should not submit their query letters, openings or synopsis for constructive input.

Take what works for you and leave the rest.

Oh - and happy new year everyone! I got a feeling this going to be very good year.

Of course, I get that feeling every year.

Matt said...

For me, I don't want to say something for the sake of saying something because I could unwittingly lead the author astray (I try not to comment on YA because it's a genre I don't connect with); however, when I see a post has one or zero comments I'm tempted to say something because I don't want the author to feel ignored.

That's when I worry my good comments go bad.

Phoenix said...

It's all SO subjective, isn't it? Heck, even correcting grammar can be subjective at times. There are so few absolutes. It's not just the art of delivering a good critique, but the art of receiving critique, too. Communication can easily break down anywhere. And then one critter may not see eye-to-eye with another critter's style of critting.

Sometimes it can devolve into an utter mess. But sometimes a stray comment cast uncertainly into the fray can be the key to helping turn a piece of work around.

I'm all for letting the writer know sincerely how you feel about something. It may not be the way the majority feels, but if one person feels it, there's no doubt others feel it too.

I'm also all for writers getting feedback from different sites. My only caveat is that I think it's more effective to send different versions to different sites and make it a progressive critique session.

And vkw, I love your optimism going into each new year :o)

Happy New Year!