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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Critiquing payback

Someone has asked me to critique their writing. It's not something I have done a lot of; probably because my own grasp of grammar, punctuation and spelling, is often a little tenuous. I also had a couple of WIPs that I should be working on; one at the rewrite stage and one going through first draft. But, I decided to undertake the task; not as an editor but as a reader. I would let the author know what sort of things troubled me as a reader and offer suggestions for improvement, if I could.

I am glad I did. It's so much easier to spot problems in someone else's work. I guess that's due to the lack of familiarity and emotional involvement in the writing. But even better, is the challenge of offering alternatives that remove those problems. It requires an analysis of exactly what is wrong: What made me stumble over this passage? How could it be improved? I need to ask those questions because, if I am going to offer suggestions for improvement, then I owe the author an explanation of why. It's the sort of questioning that I don't do when reviewing my own work, and its the sort of questioning that helps me understand what makes writing good, mediocre or bad.

The payback is that I carry those lessons into my own writing. There I was worrying about the WIPs that I should be beavering away at, but I reckon I'll beaver away much more effectively, once I have finished these critiques. So, if you want to improve your writing, then I highly recommend critiquing another writer's work. Thanks Kelly.

Posted by fordy at 8:28 PM
Categories: About writing