I’m a Reader Not a Critiquer

I have a confession to make: I am a terrible critique partner. In the last year, I’ve offered to read manuscripts for five of my writing group members. I’ve gotten through one and a half of them. I had one for so long that it went through two new drafts and was submitted to a publisher before I had gotten more than a few chapters in.

I’m slow. I take critiques pretty seriously, so I like to be meticulous and pay very close attention to what I’m reading. That makes critiquing very time-consuming for me, and time has been my enemy lately; I do not have enough of it. Or rather, I have the same amount of time, but too many other things I have to do with it, so reading the manuscripts of my friends has taken a back burner.

I also lack confidence in my ability to give good feedback. I am a voracious reader, and a decent writer, but those are the only qualifications I have to be a critique partner. I’m currently taking classes for a copyediting certificate, so I’m hoping my copyediting skills will be honed by the end of this year, but I’m still not sure that helps me with the fundamental edits.

All I can offer people is my opinion: what I feel works and doesn’t work for me. I can tell you if I feel like a scene needs more development, clarification, or elimination. I can tell you if I feel like your characters are acting out of character. I can tell you at what point, if any, I was pulled out of the story, for whatever reason, or when my suspension of disbelief failed.

Basically I give writers my reactions as a reader. I tend to give a broad “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it” and why. I’m not as good at suggesting ways to fix what I feel is lacking, but I do try to throw out ideas to at least help brainstorm.

I’m much better at collaboration than critique. I thrive in a group or partner setting, throwing ideas back and forth, rather than sitting alone with a manuscript.

But I still love to read, and I really do enjoy reading what comes from the minds of my fellow writers. They never cease to amaze me with what they are able to put out there.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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