Sometimes I have crit partners that want to swap pages and see if we "mesh" together. This is what I tell them:
Crit partners are invaluable.
I don't care if you have different styles of writing, different opinions of writing, different methods, and opposite plot methods.
Each one of my crit partners I cherish. Even the ones that don't "get" me. Even the ones that want to reword everything, change all the structure, and correct the intentional misspellings.
Because they are giving me a completely different point of view. I've known others that just want someone who "gets" their writing. But I have a different take.
I am secure in my writing, I know what works for me. I like to see what doesn't work for other people, understand where they are coming from with their comments and decide whether I want to change it or not. The reason for that is because I can expand into other points of view, and it gives my characters a depth that maybe I don't have or see.
None of it is a waste of time because I got the benefit of looking at the same piece through different eyes and the crit partner got to learn how they would or would not "do" a scene, construct a sentence or term a phrase.
When I take on a crit partner, I'm their student. When I crit, I'm their teacher. Taking critique is an art form of leaving emotional attachment behind. I do not get offended if people strip out passages of text. I can leave it or not. Only I can really see the reason for each sentence, each word.
Sometimes I might not "get" it until several passages later and that may be what my crit partner wants. Even that is helpful to point to and say, "Aha! I’m making her feel this way…awesome let me twist the knife now."
If I know what the goal is for the chapter, story or character I can help you in that I can say you’ve achieved the goal by me.
I love getting feedback just on general all-around "feel" of the story. And almost anything that comes to mind. But you, my crit partners, promise to take my suggestions with a grain of salt.
Look at all my comments as a plea to understand you and the story. Realize that I’m trying to both read as a fan and edit with a shrewd mind trying to make a scene the way you want the reader to feel. For me, my crit partners help me create my worlds, help me focus on discrepancies I’ve overlooked, and shape the story just as much as I have.
And that is what a crit partner should always be. It's a relationship where both parties set aside worry for how the author will feel about this or that comment.
If a crit partner can't speak freely, then you can't improve, you can't trust what their saying isn't watered down and you don't get needed feedback. People will withhold information that could be useful.
We forget that different minds will read your creation and interpret it differently. A crit partner is your gauge. Don't abuse them by disqualifying their feelings, thoughts and suggestions.
It's the author that must discern whether to keep or toss the advice depending on how you want the story to make the reader feel. Crit partners are the guage to help you achieve that.
ACTION ITEM: When critiquing, only say what you're feeling for one trade-off. See if it works for your crit partner.
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