Saturday, June 9, 2012

Critiquing in Person Versus Critiquing Online

I've met beta readers online that I've swapped stories with and also joined writers groups where we read our stories outloud and critiqued each other. I've found that swapping stories online gives me the best critiques and here's why.

There are some benefits to writer's groups in person. They keep you accountable. After all, you must have a new chapter each week to share with them or you could be kicked out of the group. But unfortunately, people are really bad at listening to others read stories outloud. They are all anxious to get their own stories read and will tune yours out or not pick up on all the information. I had another woman in the group read my stories for me outloud (because I'm shy) and she was the only one who understood all of it. Sometimes other people would say,"You left out this detail or that one." And she'd say for me,"No, she discussed all of that here." It really showed me week after week that no one listened to what I had to write and it wasn't just me they did this to. I'm pretty good at listening to stories and picking up on most of what is read, but even I didn't get everything either.

Not to mention that their critiques will never be as in depth as one online can be. They can't see your spelling mistakes and if they notice grammar problems or run-on sentences, they'll only be able to vaguely reference them because they don't have a copy of your manuscript in front of them. They don't get much time to state their opinions, so they'll often be vague. One time, for a chapter of my novel, the only feedback I got was: "You know, it's like, missing something." Maybe I agreed with the feedback, but it wasn't specific at all and didn't help me. All I knew was there was something wrong with my chapter, but not what that was. People will go into more detail if you swap stories with them online.

Of course, I've read that there are some writer's groups out there who print out their stories and swap them with another person once a month and then come back and give each other's manuscripts back. It sounds interesting and better than the other method I've seen employed.

How do your experiences differ from mine? Do you get most of your critiquing online or in person?

6 comments:

Precy Larkins said...

Interesting. I only have crit/beta readers online so I've never had the in-person experience.

brightonluke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jemi Fraser said...

I've only ever had online crit buddies. They're pure gold. SHaring in person would be scary! :)

I do know some people who have live crit groups who share their chapters ahead of time in order to avoid the listening problems you mention :)

Paul Dillon said...

There are other types of in-person critique groups. For example, the one I belong to doesn't read submissions aloud – I would find this very odd. We submit work beforehand, which is read and marked-up prior to the meeting. In this respect, it’s the same as an online critique as we take away a printed copy or receive an electronic file via email. However, there’s an added benefit, members discuss each submission and it can be quite insightful listening to the interactions as your work is discussed. I think there is value to this, perhaps even more than an online critique.

Deb Carter said...

I'm new to this writing thing and was introduced to this site called storywrite.com where you post your story. This site has some published authors but I think mostly for people that love to write. You can read others' stories and leave a comment and they can do the same. They also make up contests that have different rules and hand out trophies. I have also had friends online read my stories but that was when I was writing for them as at that time I thought was a hobby but know different now.

eva nurlela putri said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. no problem no life, no matter did not learn, so enjoy it :)

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