How To Make The Most Of A Critique

Critiques are a great way to progress in your writing. Whether you are going through a local writing group, or through a paid-for service, you want to ensure you make the most of your critique.

Why should you get a critique of your writing?

  • You will receive an objective opinion which will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of your writing.
  • You will learn more about writing craft and should be able to apply this to future books.
  • You can save a huge amount of time. Instead of writing endless drafts without feeling confident that you know what you’re doing, get some guidance to help you level up sooner.
  • It may increase your chances of publication. By having a professional assess your work, and offer direction, your work is more likely to pass through the sieve of an editor or agent.

Where should you get a critique done?

Before you hand over your money, look carefully at the person or organisation offering a critique. Do research online and ask questions like:

  • Do you know anyone who has used this service before? If so, what did they think and how did it improve their writing?
  • Have you heard of the person offering the critique before? Are they a reputable or well-known organisation?
  • If they are an author, do you recognise their name? Have you heard of their books? Do they get good reviews? (A quick visit to Amazon should help.)
  • If it is a literary consultancy, do they offer any success stories? If so, have you heard of any of the authors they mention?
  • You can also join a writing group (in person or virtually). Many groups critique members’ work, and if they don’t already, they may if you ask.

When should you get a critique done?

  • It’s important to submit your best draft, so it’s better to wait until the story is as good as it can be.
  • When you have done a few drafts and find yourself looking at the page blankly, you’re probably ready for an objective opinion.
  • If you’re planning to submit your story for a competition, and would like a critique first, ensure you leave plenty of time. There may be a wait for feedback. You also need time afterwards to act on the feedback to improve your story and its chances of success.

Top tips.

  • Ask for an invoice from the critique provider. This counts as an expense if you file a tax return.
  • It is always useful having another pair of eyes to look at your writing, especially when that pair of eyes belongs to a professional. However, don’t feel obliged to act on every change which is suggested. It is YOUR story. Only change what you feel comfortable with.
  • I always ask clients to compare the final draft (following feedback) to the original one submitted. Hopefully this should be a great encouragement as you see how your writing has improved.