Blogger: Rachel Kent
I was happy to go to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference for one day this year, even though I wasn’t on faculty, to meet with my clients. (BTW, I love Mount Hermon’s writers conference, so if you ever get a chance to go, you should!)
One client was in a critique track at the conference and was also having appointments with editors and publishing professionals. She ended up receiving critiques that were polar opposites. One group loved her book and thought everything about it was perfect. The other group had a lot to say about what she could improve.
This lead to an emotional roller coaster and a lot of confusion for my client. I had read her book, and I absolutely loved it and thought it was just about perfect. So I was able to reassure her, and I asked her to send me a list of the changes she was thinking of making so I could help her to evaluate if she should go ahead with them.
If you are ever faced with conflicting critiques, here are a few suggestions for you:
1) Take a moment to pray for wisdom and an open mind. It’s hard to take feedback, and we’re all programed to only want to listen to the good reviews. Pray that God will give you discernment when looking at the critiques so your own feelings and opinions wont get in the way.
2) Go back to the critiquers and ask questions to understand if the different critiques pinpoint the same problem. For example, if Critique Partner One said that your character was flat in a particular scene and Critique Partner Two said that your character wasn’t at all likeable, go back and ask Critique Partner One if he or she felt the problem extended beyond that scene. Then ask Critique Partner Two if that scene was a big part of the problem. This cross-referencing of your critiques will help you to glean more information and will help to you understand what they were telling you.
3) Seek another opinion. If you’ve only had two people critique your manuscript, seek out a third opinion. If you have an agent, it would be great for the third opinion to be your agent’s. If you don’t have an agent or have already heard your agent’s opinion, be sure that your third critiquer is part of your intended audience and has the time to take a good look at your manuscript.
4) Don’t get caught up on minor issues. If one person loves that your character adores chocolate and the other was annoyed with the chocolate addiction, let those two opinions cancel each other out and move on to something that actually matters. However, if you hear from everyone that the minor issue is a problem, go ahead and change it.
5) Rate your critiquers’ opinions based on the level of experience each has and weigh the opinions in that order.
What do you do when you receive conflicting critiques?
How many people do you usually have read your manuscript once you’ve finished?
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