My IWSG-like Post

Okay. So today I’m going to post my IWSG-like post. Even though I don’t belong to the group. But I have a question that I’m curious about too, what other writers do.
Just lately I’ve critiqued a lot of stories. (A lot for me = 3 in just over a month) It’s funny how it goes like that. Nothing for a while, the Boom! Lots to do. But I love critiquing, so I’m not complaining. Besides, they were all good stories, and I’m glad I got to read them.
One thing I worry about with critiquing is if I overdo it with the comments. I know that the author has final say. They can take my advice or ignore it. And I’d rather present them with something and let them figure out if they want to change it, rather than not bring it up at all and then worry that I should have.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images

And something I worry about is if I get it wrong. You know, like the grammar rules. I’m no expert, and I’d feel bad if I say something wrong.

For instance, I just discovered an exception to a rule. See my Sloppy Writing post from Friday about this if you’re curious, cause I don’t want to take up the space here. Anyways, I finally discovered there is an exception to the comma, conjunction rule with SO. And then I went back in all 3 manuscripts I was working on and changed them back when I’d mistakenly added a comma.
And so I wonder, how many others did I mark wrong earlier this summer. Or how many other grammar things do I incorrectly mark. If I’m not sure about something, I’ll usually say that or go find the answer myself on the internet, but a lot of times I feel sure, and am still wrong. (Maybe it’s time to page through Strunk and White again.)

And then there’s times when I mark something like ‘suddenly.’ That’s a word we’re supposed to avoid. And sometimes you might need it, but most of the time you don’t. But these multi-published authors use it. No, not twice a chapter. So they key is moderation. But my point is, do you mark stuff like that so they are aware? Or should you stay away from those voice things?

Comma splices are another thing. Sometimes I look at a sentence with a comma splice and think, yeah, that feels right. (Probably more so with dialogue) But it’s grammatically wrong. But maybe the author just missed that conjunction. Maybe they don’t want it. But maybe they do.

Or maybe super long sentences. If they’re using them consistently, okay, it’s easy to see that it is their style. But what if halfway in they have a super long sentence, grammatically correct, but LONG. Do you point it out just to bring attention to it?

Maybe I should add a standard note to my comment lingo: JPO, which means I’m just pointing out. Doesn’t mean it’s good or bad. Then it could differentiate between things I heavily suggest changing as opposed to things I think they should be aware of. (I might have to do that.)

So long way to get to my question. What do you do? Do you feel like you over-comment? Do you comment on things that fall into the voice/style category?

Have you ever gotten something wrong with a comment on somebody’s novel?

Just wondering if I’m the only one who worries about this.

12 Responses

  1. It sounds like you are an awesome person to have as a CP! The fact that you overthink it means you really care about what you’re doing and that’s a good thing.

    When I’m critiquing, I point out as much as I spot that might not be right, but when I’m unsure, I’ll say so because I don’t want to give out wrong advice.

    But once it’s done, I have to let it go. I keep in mind that I am one of several CPs, and it’s not always possible to spot everything or get it all right. I’m happy knowing I’ve done my absolute best, and remember that other CPs will be able to help out in the places I couldn’t. 🙂

  2. You are fabulous – seriously. I mean, truly fabulous. In the awesome, so grateful that you put that much time and energy into someone else’s work fabulous. 🙂

    I think all of the things you mention above is why it’s good to have multiple critiques. If more than one person has a problem with something, or marks a grammar issue, then you can be pretty assured as the author that somethings up with it. If only one person has the problem, then you (as author) can decide if you want to change it or not.

    What I send back as far as when I critique depends on what the person wants. I try to look for things that obviously takes me out of the story, grammar issues, long, confusing sentences, places that confusing or plot holes, etc… If I start off making a lot of comments about the same thing, I’ll maybe back off later in the document if it seems like a style thing that isn’t distracting from the story, and then just mention it in my overall comments.

    Being a critiquer is not easy, but you do an exellent job.

  3. I’ve second guessed myself before when I’ve critiqued. And if I’m not sure about something, I’ll put that in the sidebar to let my CP know so they can check it out if they choose.

    I am a comma freak. 🙁 I LOVE them too much at times. LOL

  4. I’m sure I’ve made a ton of mistakes on critiques. And I worry about all of these things too. Hopefully the writers don’t take my comments or corrections as the final say and use it more as a tool to be aware of things.

  5. I comment about whatever comes to mind. If I make a word choice suggestion, I say it’s just a suggestion. I think the people I beta read for know that I’m not telling them how to write or punctuate their story. It’s just my opinion. Isn’t that what a critique is? An informed opinion? I love beta reading for that reason. I can read a story and leave my thoughts as I do. It’s fun!

  6. I’m in agreement… I want you as a beta, Suzi! LOL. I know I’m SO grateful for my CP’s because they aren’t afraid to voice what isn’t working… I LOVE nitpicks–even if I intended something to be a certain way. And I voice anything that comes to my attention at all–it’s better to lay it all out than to withhold, IMO!

  7. i think everyone’s comments are right on mark. if i send you something, i’d rather you comment like crazy. then it also shows me you are interested in this and not just reading it and sending it back saying yeah, it sounds good or telling me try to be more descriptive here or there.

  8. So why are you NOT a part of IWSG??? What’re you waiting for, sister? 😉

    You’re a good beta reader to be concerned with your critiquing. I think that’s important. No one has ALL the answers all the time. That’s why having more than one CP/beta reader is so helpful. With the fiction, the rules change and modernize so much, that what was grammatically correct 10 years ago has no bearing today. When I crit, I simply note in advance that everything I highlight is simply cuz it pulls me out of the story. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but that it made me pause. As the writer, to know when a reader has paused to question the use of a word/punctuation, that’s the most important element to me. i can choose to keep it or change it, but at least I know it stopped the flow.
    Every reader is different and you can only bring what you know to the table. As long as you do that and you’re polite and considerate (which I’m sure you are) then you’re doing your job. It’s up to the writer to learn what’s best for their own story and style.

  9. Can I please have you as a permanent CP/beta buddy.

    My gosh, I love having as much input as I can get – especially when I’m told I’m “really” using “just” and “gosh” too much 🙂

    Gosh, can you just believe the nerve. Really.

    Anyway, you should sign up for IWSG… you’re an asset to the community 🙂

  10. Rachel Schieffelbein

    I pretty much comment on almost any thought that comes into my head. 🙂 I just try to make sure I explain myself well, and nicely.
    I agree with the others. The fact that you are worried about it shows that you care. You sound like a great critique partner!
    And I know I have never gotten a critique from anyone and thought they said too much. I’d rather hear it all, and decide what I agree with, than have them be over-nice. Then it’ll never get better.

  11. I love comments. The more the better. The Good The Bad and the ugly, Just give it tome straight so I can fix things. I appreciate that very much.

    You sound like an awesome critique partner.

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