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View Full Version : Does critiquing other people's work help you?



Curioso
01-16-2009, 07:09 AM
There are hundreds of posts and articles about how much writers need feedback, but what benefits does the writer who critiques get out of it? Does reviewing and editing help improve your work the more you do it? Can it give the internal critic something to do?

Claudia Gray
01-16-2009, 07:16 AM
I think that sometimes it does. The best is when you're critiquing the work of someone who writes in a similar style -- and thus makes mistakes you can also glimpse in yourself. And certainly learning how to give critique helps teach you how to take it, at least in my experience.

NeuroFizz
01-16-2009, 07:25 AM
If there are multiple crits on a single entry (like in SYW), it is easy to benefit by comparing your crit to that of others, to see if the same things are being caught or what is being missed. It's necessary to keep in mind that some crits may be inappropriate due to missing the context of the larger work of the SYW poster, but getting in on a SYW crit daisy chain is always a learning/reinforcing experience for me.

jennontheisland
01-16-2009, 07:28 AM
It definitely helped me.

I wasn't able to see some issues with my own work until I caught myself pointing them out to others.

Red-Green
01-16-2009, 07:48 AM
Yup, I can always recognize problems in my writing after I've pointed out the same problems to other people.


It definitely helped me.

I wasn't able to see some issues with my own work until I caught myself pointing them out to others.

Snowstorm
01-16-2009, 09:09 AM
It's absolutely a help for me. I pick out things in their work and can take away crits and apply it to my work. I analyze my work with a more open mind. In the queries forum, I've learned a lot to apply to mine.

(Besides, IMHO, it feel good to help others. And it's polite to give help to others on this forum and not just expect others to help me.)

Cranky
01-16-2009, 09:40 AM
Absolutely useful, without a doubt. As others have noted, it helps you spot issues in your own writing, and you also learn how to take a crit that way, since you know what it's like to give one, and how you'd like to have that be received. :)

Virector
01-16-2009, 09:56 AM
It does. Whenever I actively critique others' work, when I turn back to my own writing, I am more likely to be able to spot my weak points if I've just noted them in someone else's writing.

Linda Adams
01-16-2009, 03:47 PM
I've found it to have a huge benefit. When I was co-writing a novel, we got some critiques on it. The critiques were rather odd because all the comments pointed to rather non-specific things. Most people would have just corrected everything without really understanding why they were getting the comments, but I wanted to know why.

And I got my answer because I critiqued about eight other first chapters. Not only did I look for problems in other people's work, I asked why I was finding this a problem. Over the course of those eight critiques, I saw my story through these other stories' eyes, and I finally realized what those non-specific things pointed to it. Every writer's work suffered from exactly the same problem, and the more questions I asked myself in the critqiues, the more I started to come up with possible answers.

Remember, a critiquer is only as good as the critique. Some people say, "Just tell me what's wrong, and I'll fix it," and they don't realize that this problem might point to a much bigger one that the critiquer can't quite process. For example, if you have forced dialogue, is it just an issue of writing the dialogue better or could it be that there's a problem with the story itself? A critiquer might see the forced dialogue but not catch the story issue. But if you went through and critiqued several other stories with your eye on dialogue--even when it works right--then you'll begin to process the answers to your own questions.

DonnaDuck
01-18-2009, 09:02 PM
Like what others have said, me critiquing others' work helps me to spot those same flaws in mine, or avoid them if I don't have them. It's definitely a two way street.

Elidibus
01-19-2009, 04:04 PM
Like what others have said, me critiquing others' work helps me to spot those same flaws in mine, or avoid them if I don't have them. It's definitely a two way street.

^^^^^ This

It's helped me a lot. Heck, just reading other people's critiques of other works helped me spot elusive things like passive voice and stuff. And I'm terribly bad about passive voice

SWickham
01-19-2009, 11:00 PM
Yes, it definitely helps. It makes me spot things that I also do (good or bad) and always encourages me just to know other people are out there writing and working to improve!!

lakotagirl
01-19-2009, 11:31 PM
Yes, critiquing other's works has help MY writing alot. I've learned how to be harder on myself when it come times to cut out excess.

Curioso
01-20-2009, 08:05 AM
Thank you for the replies, everyone. Sometimes I need an extra, practical incentive to do things I ought to. Now I must get over being intimidated by writers better than myself...

OctoberRain
01-20-2009, 11:00 AM
I didn't think it would, but it has. I'm in a novel writing workshop now (Gotham) and being forced to analyze other people's work has opened my eyes to a lot of the problems in my own. It's made me a better editor... for me.

WireHair
01-20-2009, 11:56 AM
Each time I critique I go into a specific mind-set. It's great practice for when I look at my own work. It's getting easier and easier to distance and analyze.