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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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( 83 comments — Leave a comment )
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(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 :)
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 :)
Jul. 23rd, 2009 01:22 am (UTC)
Brilliant! I have nothing to add. I second the idea that you should include this in your weekly roundup. :D
Jul. 23rd, 2009 08:48 am (UTC)
Thanks :) I'm glad you liked it.

How's the plotting going?
Jul. 23rd, 2009 04:19 am (UTC)
You already know I have issues. LOL

Great charter.
Jul. 23rd, 2009 08:59 am (UTC)
Thanks. I was expecting a fiddin in your response ;)
(no subject) - dynastic_queen - Jul. 24th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 24th, 2009 10:37 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2009 05:26 am (UTC)
I'm the site administrator for the Academy of American Poets' online discussion forum and we have several workshop fora there. This issue easily comes up more than any other issue across the board. That said, my number 12 would be, "I will remember that others are also rereading #1 after I critique their work." It's often very easy for someone to see what others are doing "wrong" without realizing that they use the same techniques. With that in mind, I also think there is some value to debating critique IF there is a format to do so that is not disruptive and/or taking time away from others waiting to receive feedback. I've had long debates about particular topics with friends about both my work and theirs and we always come out better for it. The idea isn't necessarily to avoid disagreement but to handle disagreeement like respectful adults.
Jul. 23rd, 2009 09:06 am (UTC)
'...handle disagreement like respectful adults...'

Sorry, can't see that happening anytime soon - at least, not in the writing groups I belong to :) but I like your idea for #12.

I would agree there's a value in clarifying a critique, but I honestly don't think there's anything to be gained from debating it. I've seen it attempted and it never ends well, at least in my experience.

Thanks for sharing :)
Jul. 23rd, 2009 12:17 pm (UTC)
Great list. I think #8, #10, #11 are especially important. Dunno if I'd call it a rule, but I think it's important to know when to step away from a crit group, seems to me that a particular group works or it doesn't. I've been lucky enough to be involved with a couple of awesome groups, but I think walking away from the dysfunctional ones saved me a lot of time and energy.
Jul. 23rd, 2009 12:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah. One or two jerks can ruin a whole group. Sometimes all you can do is walk away.

Thanks for sharing.

Congrats on the upcoming book by the way :)
Jul. 23rd, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
I am part of a critique group who are very good and I have had some excellent suggestions from them. However a couple of weeks ago a woman who hadn't been for a while turned up and described another member's work as "Irritating, unreadable and insulting to the reader."

He took it better than I would have done. I think the number 1 rule for a critiquer is keep the criticism constructive.
Jul. 23rd, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. Maybe next week I'll do a Critiquer's charter.

Thanks for sharing :)
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