Jul 1, 2010

Why Pay For A Professional Critique

Why pay a professional to critique your work – why not just get a very honest friend or family member who is capable of being objective to do it for you?

I’ll tell you why – without meaning to offend anyone, they are not lightly to know what to look for in the processional sense of what you as the writer need in a critique.

Yes, they will spot some major error in your writing, which is great – like the following little beauty a friend spotted in my writing recently.

“…when I woke earlier with Mison howling!”

Obviously, I wasn’t howling with the dog, though anything is possible during a full moon phase where I am concerned, but in this instance, that wasn’t what I meant.

I doubled laughing when she pointed it out to me. Oh, the difference an “’s” can make within a sentence. It obviously should have read, “…when I woke earlier with Mison’s howling, or, when Mison’s howling woke me.”

But, in my defence, because the writer knows the story in their head it is hard to spot the foul-ups, blunders, errors or inconsistencies that will be apparent to someone reading the story for the first time. Thus, it’s great to have fresh eyes to check things over for you.

If you have a friend capable of proofreading your work and giving you an un-biased opinion, you are blessed. But note, I did say review, (as in look over) not critique your work – there is a world of difference.

When you need a piece reviewed, in the sense of proofreading for typo’s, grammar, and punctuation, by all means go to sharp eyed friend who is on the button in such matters – but when it comes to getting your work critiqued you need to find a professional that you are comfortable working with.

There are many critiquing services available to writers but I consider myself privileged to be a member of the phenomenal Inkwell Writers @ http://www.inkwellwriters.ie/whose founder, Vanessa, not only runs fantastic writing workshops by Best Selling authors, but also offers a wide array of services for writers at every stage, and provides a critiquing service of the highest standard.

And if you attend the Inkwell workshops, you are even lightly to meet the Best Selling author in person – it’s a win-win situation for all writers no matter what stage you are at in the craft.

I chose Best Selling author Tracy Culleton @http://www.inkwellwriters.ie/Critique-Service.html#TracyCulleton2 from the panel at Inkwell, and with the butterflies doing a fine rendition of River Dance Re-visited in the pit of my stomach, I bunged off my chosen segment for critiquing by email.

The level of professionalism with which Tracy analyzed my work was second-to- none. Not only did I get an honest in-depth line-by-line appraisal of my work, but her suggestions to improve my work were astounding, and her encouragement heart-warming.

The praise and encouragement are important for more reasons than the obvious boost to ones ego that one might expect. Yes, we all need a boost to our ego from time to time. Writing can be a lonely experience where rejection batters the ego, and if that’s not bad enough, we beat ourselves up at times; comparing our work to the best – which is always going to fall flat, but with our professional editing head screwed firmly in place – the praise in the critique plays an entirely different role.

In the editing mode, you use the comments like, "excellent - deep in POV here very vivid and powerful and the right side of purple prose Very good ‘timeline’ here making it clear whats happening when vivid description, and excellent use of back story ah! There’s the needed locator, nice work  great use of strong verbs love this Para, etc," and study what you did in those sections that earned you this response from a Best Selling author, and then use that knowledge to improve the rest of your ms.

Thus, an in-depth critique by a professional highlighting the positive with the negative is actually all positive and worth ten times what you paid for it when you are in either editing mode, or study mode.

At the end of the day, as regards ego, if you want to be a published author – you need to leave your ego on the shelf during the critiquing process. Critiquing is about improving your ms, learning, and moving closer to being published, and nothing else.

To conclude:
Unless they work in the profession, your friends are not qualified to give you the in-depth analysis you need to put your work forward as a polished ms for publication.
What you need is a professional analysis like the one I received through the Inkwell services, which will improve your ms a thousand fold.

With a smile
Ita x

1 comment:

  1. Hi

    Couldn't agree more with your excellent post re professional critique pays!

    I've seen group after group form on the Internet, and each group member becoming best friend of next - so on and so forth - and none of the members then able to critique with open-eye: always thinking friendship before honesty!