Thursday, February 22, 2007

Making Critiques Better, Two Reactions

I wrote, "It never hurts to remember we are a group of people who want to be published, have been published, or want to publish in higher-paying or more prestigious markets. That's only possible if our fellow members look upon our every submission with the idea it can be made better."

Two members of the IWW's nonfiction group responded, each describing the opposite side of the proverbial coin.

One said, "Even if we assume that a piece can be made better, we should not be so quick to assume that just any old body with a keyboard in front of him knows how this should be done. Writing a formalized, critical assessment of a text is simply beyond some people, and they should not be encouraged to do what they cannot do. Didactic critiques written by persons without qualifications can cause more harm than good. Great job, send it right off may be a cop-out, but it sure beats being
scolded about hyphens. I'll take it. You bet I will."

The other agreed with me. "I have wondered about the very abbreviated critiques that do little more than give someone a symbolic pat on the back. I thought the purpose of a critique was honest feedback and valuable input to the author. My critiques take some time because the article, hopefully, took some time to write. I can't just say Great job! and shine it on. If we want the list to attract and keep excellent writers, a formula huzzah will not interest nor instruct those who work every day to improve their craft. "I think that a detailed critique is the foundation of the IWW. Where else will I find analysis of my writing by professors, published authors, and people of many different opinions and cultures?"

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