Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How Do You Spell "Critique"?

[This is a guest post by Sandpoint writer Anita Aurit.]

I love my critique group. They are instrumental in my growth as a writer and I wouldn't write on a regular basis if they didn't inspire me to do so. If you're not as enthusiastic about your group, may I suggest you consider using our spelling of critique?

C - Contribute pieces for critique. A successful critique group contains people who write on a regular basis (letters to the editor, newsletters, or novels, it doesn't matter; it is the act of writing that is important).

R - Read! A writer who does not read is like a chef who refuses to eat or taste his food.

I - Invest the time. Read each piece before the meeting and get your piece to the group at least a few days prior to the meeting.

T - Table the urge to ghost-write. Critiquing is suggesting.

I - Illuminate. Explain your comments. "It doesn't work for me" is not a valid critique.

Q - Quell the urge to defend your writing. Listen and ask questions. If you are busy defending your plot point or use of commas, you will miss valuable suggestions.

U - Understand that writers are emotionally attached to their work. Handing over a piece for critique is like handing over your baby. Be gentle and gracious. Don't coo over the baby and say how sweet it is. Don't mete out harsh correction either. Be gracious and gentle when offering guidance and suggestions and you will raise writers of excellence.

E - Enjoy the process. Listen, learn, and use what you determine to be the best advice.

This is how my group spells critique. However, spelling is not an exact science. You may have a slightly different view of the spelling of critique and I encourage you to use the one that fits you best. Writers can differ about spelling, just as Artemus Ward and Chaucer did. Ward said, "It is a pity that Chawcer, who had geneyus, was so unedicated. He's the wuss speller I know of."
Anita Aurit's interests are diverse and so is her writing repertoire. She has published short humor in the Saturday Evening Post, an article on fantasy football for women in an online sports magazine, and travel articles. Her devotionals have been published in The One Year Life Verse Devotional and in the Judson Press publication, The Secret Place. She has written an award-winning children's play, The Care and Feeding of Caterpillars, as well as several short, made-for-video productions. She is currently working on two nonfiction books and is toying with the idea of making the next book a novel.

Anita's day job is as a business consultant and mediator. She and her husband, Mark, an Internet software engineer, share their northern Idaho home with three "fur children," all of the Siamese purr-suasion.


Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

Thanks, Anita! This is great advice to keep in mind whether you're on the giving or the receiving end of a critique.

Jennifer Rova said...

Excellent tips. It is useful information for tactful ways to help other writers.

Nancy Owens Barnes said...

A great list of ideas to keep in mind for writers wanting feedback on their work. I especially like your suggestion that writers invest the time by reading the piece before the critique meeting. I find it difficult to give useful and thoughtful feedback on a piece that was read or handed to me only minutes earlier. Thanks!