Valuable critique

At first Ms. Puglisi’s ideas here at The Bookshelf Muse seemed brilliant. I had already pulled out a pad of paper to start making my list, when this voice in the back of my head finally caught my attention. Don’t ruin an already good thing, the voice urged me.

I love my weekly critique group. How would me making a list of questions to use when I’m stuck for something to say add value to my group?

It wouldn’t.

The problem with making a list like this is that the intention behind it seems to be more about having something smart to say in critique than an honest sharing of what worked and didn’t work for you (the reader) in a piece. Lots of great books suffer from the “problems” on Puglisi’s list. What really matters, I think, is getting people’s responses as readers, our intended audience. If an aspect of craft occurs to you in the reading of a work, then, by all means share that, but why force it? The writer needs to figure most of that out on her own anyway and we are not trying to write perfect books, we are trying to writer books that move people toward some human response.


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2 thoughts on “Valuable critique

  1. Holly

    Well said! And your final words – “to move people toward some human response” – brought to mind my experiences with Goodreads. Sometimes I see others’ reviews that are so trenchant and well-written that I am humbled by doubt that I could/would ever write something that good myself (not to mention think so critically and broadly). Then, I remind myself that what I write on the site – what I have time to do; what it is my inclination to do – is write my “responses” to books I read. Sometimes I write a lot; sometimes very little. I might not hit all the bases of craft, but I have recorded my readerly response.

  2. lizshine74 Post author

    I love reading your reviews! I’m glad this resonated with you. It helped me get clear on what I’m looking for in critique group to write this. When we emerge from writing with a clearer sense of who we are–that’s a sweet spot in writing.


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