This is what my critiques look/feel like…

Editing your own work is hard, but editing other people’s work is as quick and heartless as this cutting demonstration.

  • Pause and reflect on the changes you suggest.
  • Always speak from a place of support.
  • If you truly hate the manuscript, it’s probably not aimed at you. Be honest with yourself and the people you’re working with.

The flaws you notice may be your own.


18 thoughts on “This is what my critiques look/feel like…

    1. Setsu Post author

      It’s also important to recognize the difference between ‘unbiased’ and ‘asshole.’ Critique groups are breeding-grounds for ego. Finding a group of people with different interests and strengths is the way to go.

  1. Yvone Williams

    lmao This video was perfect. If only I could chop my own stories with that kind of fervor.

    I do try to adhere to your points when critiquing others. Thanks for the reminder!

      1. Yvone Williams

        Hah, I think the biggest challenge is not trying to convince myself that I should cut something as much as having the keen eye to notice that something needs to be cut.

      2. Yvone Williams

        Trust me: When I get a critique, I turn into Fruit Ninja. Chop, chop, chop!

        I still need to make the changes from Ellen Brock’s critique, but they will be made!!!

  2. toconnell88

    Good tips. I do my best to be honest and tactful. You can’t go wrong if both parties show respect. Had no major issues thus far, but I’m apologetic to a fault when I edit…

    Anyone have any horror stories to share?

    1. Setsu Post author

      I’ve had semi-pro and pro writers tell me I need to…

      -Re-write my whole book from third to first person
      -Re-write my whole book from scratch because the worldbuilding is too shaky
      -Re-write my whole book because the balance of power is based on “it’s my story and that’s how the world works because it’s convenient” rather than actual psychology and dynastic cycles

      I’ve had fun, engaging, extensive discussions about literature and process with other writers (regarding their work); but the moment my work comes up the conversation ends.

      I’ve had friends and family…
      – Yell at me for being confusing about stuff I pointed out a paragraph ago.
      – Look up at me after reading a story and say, “yeah but… what’s the point?” (This one haunts me. Probably worth its own post)
      – Folks offering and offering to beta-read for me and then either not reading or judging me, personally, for what I wrote.
      – Oh, and my brother’s advice — I’ll never forget this — I gave him my whole book, and his only note was “forced waves don’t flow.” That might be worth a post also.

      Ills I have perpetuated include
      – Staring at a 1st or 2nd draft thinking, “I have nothing good to say about this.”
      – Actually being angry I had to read something that bad.
      – Going on a long rant about how everyone has potential that just needs to be drawn out and then being presented with a manuscript that draws out those first two responses.

      And this is the worst… Offering tips and tricks on a manuscript that align with YOUR vision, but not THEIR vision. That one’s really important.

      Editing is like working a mixing board with a thousand dials. Grammar, imagery, spelling, dialogue, and all the rest count for one single dial. Editing is tweaking hundreds of those dials until the picture in your head matches the picture in your reader’s head.

      And even then… once it’s clear and distinct… they may not like it.

      How about your stories? I know there are some doozies out there.


    I’ve given my book to quite a few people who insisted they wanted to read it and then all I heard was the sound of crickets. I’m not sure if they never started it, or started it, got bored and didn’t finish, or finished it and hated it.

    Probably my biggest fault as an editor is trying to get in there and over-control the sentence structure, grammar, etc. I have a micro-manager in me that comes out at the worst times.

    1. Yvone Williams

      Not to induce paranoia, but this reminds me of the time I fell in love with a particular book’s title, cover, and a teaser quote attached to it. The book itself was nowhere near as good as the cover… and I just now realized the quote that drew me in never actually appeared in the book. >_<

      The point is, sometimes it's hard to match the marketing (cover/quote/synopsis) with your target audience lol

      In any case, I did respond to the author with a whole lot more than crickets (respectfully, of course… hehe.)

    1. Setsu Post author

      That, in and of itself, is also a process. I wonder if holding up a page and giving side-by-side example of what line edits and general impressions look like would be helpful. (Sorta like Anne Mini’s blog. Which is down now. Darn.)

      But then folks could pick which one they really want.

  4. Pingback: Great opportunity! Get your first five pages critiqued by a professional editor | Jennifer M Eaton

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