The topic for today’s rolling blog tour: Do you critique for free?

It’s a thought provoking question and I thought about it all day while tackling the carpet of weeds passing for my back garden these days.

First, I believe critique from another writer (or six) is an essential part of the creative process. Thoughtful, skilled critiquing is a gift writers share with each other. Beta readers also provide valuable feedback for story improvement.

Second, the word “free” suggests a monetary connotation. I’ve never charged anyone money for a critique – the notion never crossed my mind. I also cannot recall an instance where a request for money might have been an appropriate response. I have declined to read and critique work due to personal time constraints. On the other hand, I have paid for three professional editor critiques, all through writer conferences. I also plan to hire a professional editor at some point after I revise and polish my manuscript and before I submit to agents and publishers.

Third, I believe all professionals have an obligation to mentor and give back to their community (within reason of course). Therefore, I am open to helping beginning writers – with the caveat that they are open to helping themselves. Earlier this year, I joined with two other writers, Andrea Walker and Ronda Payne to form Golden Ears Writers. The Maple Ridge Arts Centre and Theatre (The ACT) kindly offered meeting space in their lobby and for several months now, Ronda and I have facilitated a bi-monthly critique group. This fall we are expanding to monthly writer education and networking events. We volunteer our time and, so far, the experience has been rewarding in a myriad of non monetary ways.

Fourth, in my opinion reciprocal critiquing is invaluable. I belong to several critique groups. In my experience, the best advice comes from fellow writers who actively work to improve their craft – no matter their level of experience or publishing history.

Fifth, effective critiquing is both an art and a skill. Many writers are afraid to offer an opinion on the work of others. However, I find everyone has something valuable to contribute, as long as they keep two words in mind: honest and constructive.

Some final notes:

This month, I am taking a workshop through Savvy Authors titled “The Four Point Critique”. It is taught by Teresa Bodwell. The cost is reasonable and I highly recommend the class.

I also recommend Becky Levine’s book The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide: How to Make Revisions, Self-Edit, and Give and Receive Feedback

Now, I am interested to hear your thoughts about critiquing the work of fellow writers. Please leave a comment below.

I also invite you to read the opinions of my fellow blog tour writers. Visit Kathleen Kaska’s blog next and if you haven’t already, take a few minutes to check out the rest of the blogs on the tour. They are all linked below.

Kathleen Kaska http://kathleenkaskawrites.blogspot.com/2011/08/do-you-critique-for-free.html


Tour Leader: Nancy Lauzon http://chickdickmysteries.com/blog-6/

Mollie Cox Bryan http://www.molliecoxbryan.com/2011/08/bleeding-heart-do-i-critique-for-free/