Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Insecure Writers' Support Group: I'd Rather Edit Than Critique

There was a post about critique groups on the Insecure Writers' Support Group last month. While I'm able to see the validity of such resources, I'm honestly not much of a joiner in the first place. Second, I dislike the term "critique group." I would much prefer to be part of an editing circle.
So, what's the difference?
While critiquing and editing may amount to the same thing in the end, to me critiquing embodies picking someone's work apart, while editing implies a close examination of the work in order to smooth over any rough spots and repair any holes. My mind sees editing as positive and critique as being a close relative of "criticism," and, therefore, negative.
When I edit someone's work, I look for basic issues such as spelling errors and issues with grammar, punctuation, and sentence and paragraph structure. I suggest alternative wording if I feel it would make the work read more smoothly. If there is a confusing aspect to the piece, I point out what I find confusing and ask if the writer could perhaps define this aspect more thoroughly. Sometimes when one has been working on a piece, they know their world top to bottom, front to back, and it can be easy to forget that the reader is not so familiar with their wonderful world.
I pride myself on being a compassionate editor. I would never use terms like "stupid" or "dull" to describe someone's work. Even if I find what someone has written absolutely cringe-worthy, I will find something positive to say about the work while making suggestions for improving clarity and readability.
There are all too many unfortunate stories of people who ceased creating after someone tore their efforts apart. I don't ever want to be the person who is responsible for making someone stop writing. I would much rather be part of an editing circle than a critique group if I were to join a group at all. While the difference may be mere syntax, I find it to be an important quantum shift. I don't want to dole out criticism; I want to suggest improvements which will strengthen an author's work.


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