… comments of thanks that make you all fuzzy inside.
One of the most important parts (to me) of developing my skills as a writer has to be critiquing and editing the writing of others.
Fortunately, being an active member of the good-ship http://www.scribophile.com means I get to do this on a daily basis, when I want, how often I want, to my heart’s content.
Unfortunately, I’m an awful nitpicker of a critiquer, and I’m not afraid to point those niggles out that stalled my flow, the sentences that read with a huge ‘WONKINESS-ALERT!’ siren blasting out inside my head, the parts of the story that are weak … basically, I’m not backward in coming forward in saying what I think.
Of course, I try to make it polite, even slip in a few smiley faces in the hope they’ll understand I’m not being a complete cow but simply trying to help. And I always remember to let the writer know how their work has made me ‘feel’ as I head through the journey they’ve taken me on, so they can understand if they’ve successfully inflicted the emotion in the reader they intended to, as well as letting them know where the strong points are.
But … that doesn’t mean my critiques are always accepted in the manner I wish for them to be. Yes, I’ve had people avoid me like the plague—and I didn’t even give them a harsh crit. I’ve also spent as much as eight hours on one persons work—eight hours of my own time that I could have spent writing, because they asked for help—and had not so much as a thank you, or even an acknowledgement that I returned their work … simply because they did not like the CONSTRUCTIVE criticism I offered.
I place ‘constructive’ in capitals for good reason. I was once thanked profusely for some edits I did to a gents novel chapters. Why? Because (his words) for every part I pointed out that needed work, not only did I offer up ways of rewording so he could see it tackled from a different angle, but I also explained why it needed to be changed. That kind of comment made the time I’d spent on his work well worth my time, in my opinion.
I recently starting critiquing the chapters of a writer whose work I enjoyed earlier in 2010, but work prevented him writing, and he returned begging forgiveness and critiques. I obliged—after warning him of my nitpicking ways—and this was the response I received from him:
“Julie, you should be doing this professionally. Your critiques are profoundly beneficial. You have a knack for teaching me as you point out my mistakes. With your help and guidance I fear I might actually become a writer. But I’m done gilding the lily, so just let me say thank you. Until next time, be well.”
Another fine receiver of my critiques, who thanks me with such comments each time, and has now requested I hold off on the critiques whilst he writes the next chapter, in the hope he can impress me with what he has learned from my advice. Yes, siree, I will gladly come back and critique/edit for the likes of you.
And another I received just today from a writer I hadn’t heard from since he thanked me for critiquing his work at the beginning of July:
“Hey there! I wanted to thank you again for your critique and tell you that I truly appreciate all the time and effort you put into writing it. Thanks to you I rewrote the story and it will be published in October. I wish I had someone like you to help me with all of my projects, you’re really a wonderful critic. All my best.”
Just … wow … that’s all I have to say on that comment. That someone would come back specifically to thank me is awesome, no?
These are just a handful that I can quote, but I have thanks for my help on a daily basis: thanks a million/wow, you hit the nail right on the head/you have no idea how helpful your crit was …
And thems, ladies and gents, are the kinda comments that will keep me coming back to offer assistance. Thems are ones who make critiquing worth more than my own (lesson-learning and self-teaching) while. Thems are the kind more likely to improve because they are willing to accept the constructive criticism and learn themselves.
So, apart from selfish motives, of course, what keeps you coming back for the critiquing/editing experience?