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The Critiquee’s Charter

The Critiquees Charter - compressed

  The Critiquee’s Charter 


1.   As the person submitting my work for critique, I understand that people have taken time away from doing other things to provide me with feedback, something which will undoubtedly help me more than it will them. Though I may feel upset by their comments, and may not agree with their observations, or decide not to implement the changes they recommend, I will keep that to myself.  I will remember that I am grateful, and take the time to thank them for their input.


2.    I recognize that not everyone has the same critique style. Therefore, unless we’ve agreed on a specific method beforehand, I will accept feedback in whatever form the critiquer cares to provide it.


3.   I want people’s honest opinions. If they give them in a way that upsets me, I will recognize that one person’s ‘rude git’ is another person’s ‘straight-talker’, and re-read item #1 until I feel better.


4.   If all I want is applause and a pat on the back for a job well done, I will not waste my critiquers’ time asking for feedback. If I do, I understand that it serves me jolly well right if I don’t get the glowing praise I expected. 


5.   If I think the critiquer just didn’t ‘get it’, I will re-read #1 until the urge to say so has passed.


6.   If I think the critiquer doesn’t know what he/she is talking about, I will re-read #1 until the urge to say so has passed.


7.   If I want to disagree with a critique, I will re-read #1 until the urge to do so has passed.


8.   If several people make similar observations, I will at least consider the possibility that, despite my undoubted genius, I may have missed something important.


9.   If someone gives me a harsh critique, I promise to remember that I am (in years at least) a grown-up, and will resist any temptation to ‘repay’ them when I review their work. 


10. I understand that some people actually set out to critique in a spiteful, hurtful, manner. They like to show off at the expense of others, and have little or no interest in helping anyone improve their work. On those rare occasions when I come across such a person, I will remind myself that idiots like this are the exception rather than the rule. I will learn to recognize and ignore him/her, and remember that (as a certain old gran used to say), ‘It’s better to be upset by people like that, than to be people like that.’ 


11. At all times, I will try to remember that critiques are just opinions, which, like spouses and children can be embraced or ignored however one sees fit. 


12. ________________________________________________

I left #12 blank. What would you put in there?


Related posts:
What do you look for in a writing group?

What would put you off from joining/staying with a writing group

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( 87 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
I don't know yet what I would add for #12, but I love #1-11 !!

Will ponder on #12.....

I ran a workshop at a local convention for four years. In all that time, I had one nasty, disgruntled participant. Everyone else, even though most were new writers and new to being critiqued, was extremely gracious.

This year was the first I didn't run the workshop. The coordinator reported that she had one disgruntled participant. I'd love to know if it's the same person, who decided to try again now that I wasn't running the show. But I don't think it would be appropriate to ask the coordinator who her disgruntled participant was. ;-)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
Hehe, there's always one :)

You're stronger willed than me. I'd have asked right away.
(no subject) - amysisson - Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
12. At the end of the day, I will look at the feedback, and work out what I can use from it to make my story better - and I will allow myself a victory dance - because I have a story that can be made better, therefore I am one up on all those perople who say "I've always wanted to write a book"
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)
Victory dances are always good :)

So is being one-up on the 'Always wanted to write a book' crowd ;)

Edited at 2009-07-22 05:07 pm (UTC)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I'm taking this to my writers' group tomorrow. Don't get me wrong; the majority of us are sensible, accepting writers. One of our newer members though, gets incredibly frustrated when you crit her because "you're not getting it." And my view that "if we don't get it, you're not writing it well enough" doesn't go down so well...
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC)
'...if we don't get it, you're not writing it well enough...'

My friend, Cherry Weiner (not someone you'd ever describe as a shrinking violet), says, 'Unless you plan on going around to explain things to everyone who buys your book, you better make it clear in the ms.'
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
Great post! You should include it in your own best-of-the-week weekly roundup.

12. I will leave all weapons at home before setting out for my critique group.
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
That is the BEST #12 anyone could concievably come up with! Good show!
(no subject) - peadarog - Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peadarog - Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peadarog - Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smeddley - Jul. 23rd, 2009 01:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peadarog - Jul. 23rd, 2009 08:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 23rd, 2009 08:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
Great list! I'm grateful critiques, even the negative ones if they're helpful.

12. Treat others as you would like to be treated?
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)
That should be everyone's #1 rule :)
(no subject) - alaneer - Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
You know, no one's ever gotten mad at me....that I know.

Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:16 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear it, but not at all surprised ;)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
#1 is the most important. I cannot tell you how many times I've spent literally weeks crittering a novel that is not in any way, shape or form ready to be crittered, only to have that person go off on me mostly on the, 'you just don't get it' vein.

Worst reaction I ever got to a crit? After crittering the first longwinded chapter of a historical romance for someone who specifically asked ME for a crit, (and was one of those people who just wanted me to tell her how great she was) I was told, "You're not a real writer anyway. You're just someone who writes."

Worst crit I ever got? Honestly--the one I remember most is the woman who could find nothing to correct in my story who instead told me, "The name of you POV character is terrible. It totally ruins the story."
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
I once wrote a detailed critique of an entire novel for someone, and didn't even get a thank you, just a lot of, disagreement :(
(no subject) - amysisson - Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
btw--this should be a nationally recognized charter. Seriously.
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
Lol, I wish, but thank you kindly for saying so :)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
#12 - the real world is going to be a lot harsher than someone willing to do #1. Believing your story is perfect is an infallible way to avoid publication.
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:24 pm (UTC)
Except my stuff, of course, which everyone knows is unimprovabible ;)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
Unimprovable in my view.

(But I'm lucky, I belong to an excellent critique group.)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
Good critique groups are like good neighbors, you don't appreciate them fully until you get (or have had) a bad one :)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
12. If I start to think all of my critiquers are trying to hurt me rather than help me, I will see numbers 10 and 1.
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
Unless they're throwing things, in which case, they really might be trying to hurt you ;)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
Ha, I love your charter. Everyone should have to sign that before they submit their work for critique.
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks :)

I liked the other point you made in your post about why published authors would agree to do critiques. Especially since so many people have thinner skin than they imagine. Still, for those of us who are prepared to accept criticism, I'm glad they do.
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes. I'm very familiar with this, and would like to submit my #12 as "I will not contact friends or create sockpuppet forum accounts to 'dispute' the review." (I used to work for a Dallas weekly newspaper where the "humor" columnist was such a thin-skinned twerp that the editorial staff admitted that they wrote the ecstatic letters to the editor gushing from both ends about the greatness of his columns. When he was promoted to assistant editor (and subsequently listed himself as "Major General Editor", he finally got the chance to read the complaints against his sophomoric columns and the sycophantic sockpuppet letters written by the editor. His way of retaliation was to give out addresses and phone numbers, so his innumerable fans [all two of them] could make prank calls at 3 ayem.)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. Still, from the sounds of it, there can't have been too many calls :)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)
I like the 11 points as is. And I think this should be printed and sent to all critique groups.

Heh, instead of a prayer at the start, should we all recite # 1?
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
Lol, just so long as we can still have the candles :)
(no subject) - clarionj - Jul. 22nd, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 22nd, 2009 07:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
This has come at an excellent time for me...Diana Rowland (author of Mark of the Demon, on shelves now *pimpage*) sent me her critique of my novel yesterday and I'm too terrified to open it! I haven't yet...she's calling me a wimp but I don't care! If I don't open it, it can't hurt me..
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC)
Hehe. I guess we have to get used to criticism. After all, once our book gets published there's bound to be someone who doesn't like it. At least you now Ms. Rowland's trying to help.

I hope she gives you kind comments and good advice :)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks :) Do you have a #12 you could add?
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
Hehe, if only life were that simple, right?

Thanks for sharing :)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
After one convention where I did the writer's workshop, I met up with one young woman who told me, flat out, now that she wasn't in front of the moderator, that I was "mean" and that I should not be so "mean."

I pointed out that I was not mean. I was firm in my opinions. I looked at her work as I would any other story in my slush pile. Her manuscript was too junior to have been submitted. The point of the workshop was to see what professionals thought of the manuscript.

She did not like my answer. Too bad, really. The story concept was a good one.
Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
I've had the first page of my current WIP critiqued at a convention twice. The first time, I wanted the floor to open up beneath me :(

I didn't think anyone was mean, but boy did they tear it apart (and I have to say, quite rightly so). I made copious, tear-stained notes throughout and tried my best to fix the problems they pointed out. I reworked it and tried it again at this year's conference. I'm proud to say that, though it wasn't considered perfect by any means, it got a lot of praise, to the extent that two of the panel even referred back to it in a positive way while critiquing others.

Ironically, I was expecting the worst this year, whereas in '08, I was naive enough to think I'd written a great opening page.

I guess the moral is, don't ask for a critique if you can't handle an honest response, right?
(no subject) - mongrelheart - Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
Great list! I've never had anybody I critiqued get upset at me. There was one time however, when somebody gave me a critique and they said that my story premise wasn't original. I didn't get mad, but I did try to convince them that my premise was in fact original because of A, B, C, etc. I regret that now & wish I'd kept my mouth shut. There was no anger or harsh words or anything like that, but I now realize that what I did wasn't productive, and I try to keep #11 in mind.
Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC)
Lol, I wouldn't worry. I imagine we've all reacted badly to critiques at one time or another. I know I have :)
(no subject) - mongrelheart - Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC)
My favorite thing to remember when reading a crit is to let it sit before responding, at least an hour or so, and also to remember to take all opinions "with a grain of salt" because they are opinions, whether dead on or not. So "with a grain of salt" would be my #12.

I don't know if anyone's gotten upset at my critiques or not, though I always try to find at least one good thing to say.
Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
That's a good point about responding (as opposed to reacting).

I agree with finding something good to say too. A sincere compliment can help take the sting out of a criticism :)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)
#12. If I feel a need to ask a question (e.g., "What was it about the protag that made you think he was a such a bastard?") I will make a point NOT to let my quest for information devolve into a snarling match or otherwise argue with the critters perception. I will remember that a) everyone is entitled to an opinion and b) I asked for his/hers.

Jul. 22nd, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
Nice, but I still prefer Peadar's 'no weapons' rule ;)
(no subject) - karen_w_newton - Jul. 22nd, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 22nd, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
Great post! I really enjoyed it.

And for a number twelve:

I will work on my next story/novel/chapter in order to have a new "love" before going back to visit the old one. And hopefully this will help me look at the work with fresh eyes. "
Jul. 22nd, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
I imagine that helps a little, knowing you're working on something even better :)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
12. I will remember, "it's not about me, it's about the work," and if I forget that, or if the critiquer forgets that, I will read rule 1 and rule 2 until I feel better.

These are great (just like someone's old gran, I'm suspecting).
Jul. 22nd, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
Good one. Thanks for sharing :)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 22nd, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
Sad to say, the people who should read this list, won't :)
Jul. 23rd, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)
You're not a member of writers_guild, obviously. Every week there's some wank when a writer posts something and doesn't just get 'omg awesome post more!!!' People should have to e-sign this to post to crit communities.

Yes, people have gotten upset with me, because I'll point out grammatical errors, which, according to a lot of writers 'don't count'. Nor, apparently, does spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. No, we're just supposed to tell them their idea is awesome. The irony is I'm a horrible speller, but I'll take the time to look something up if Word won't auto-correct it properly, and I don't have much patience for people who 'don't have the time' for that.

So I think my #12 would be: grammar does count. Proofread accordingly before posting.
Jul. 23rd, 2009 08:44 am (UTC)
I'm with you on the grammar/spelling thing. I have to say, I'm not a fan of the 'oh well it's a rough draft' thing either, unless they tell me beforehand in which case I at least know that I don't need to spend so much time on it.

Thanks for sharing :)
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