Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How Critiquing Makes You a Better Writer

The other day I was reading somebody's unpublished book and I was like, "Wow, this part is beautiful and amazing and makes me want to weep."

Reading that made me a better writer (and probably a better person).

In the same manuscript, I spotted:
a) purple prose, where the writer takes originality an nth of a degree too far and ends up sounding artsy fartsy
b) an abundance of adverbs (is there a book with this title? because there totally should be)
c) run-on sentences that made me truly appreciate our good friend the period (.)

This person is a good writer, as evidenced by the above referenced awesome prose that made me want to weep. But they still had little drafting flaws that needed polishing. We all do. Finding those in someone else's work makes it easier to see them in my own.

And that makes me a better writer.

We're all learning and practicing by degrees, line upon line, precept upon precept (Isaiah 28:10). Critiquing helps with that. So if you're feeling a little stuck in your writing, read somebody else's work. It'll really help them out, and...

make you a better writer.

p.s. Sometimes feels like I'm preaching to the choir.

p.p.s. Matthew Rush has a new Afterglow Book Review up for Ghost Medicine by Andrew Smith (The Marbury Lens author's debut novel).

p.p.p.s. If you need a laugh, see this very brief but hilarious post by Kiersten White about an editorial note that made her day.


  1. YES. Love. It so does. Spotting errors or things that could be better in someone else's writing makes me MUCH more aware of the same things in my own writing!

  2. Yes, totally! I'd spot problematic writing while critiquing that makes me go: "Wait. Didn't I do that in chapter 1 as well?" It teaches me what to watch out for in my own writing.

  3. You know, I have learned more from doing crits than I have from any writing class! Great post.

  4. Anne and Emy, exactly!

    Christine, I think I have, too. Writing conferences are awesome and I learn so much there, but I think the gradual learning from critiquing and writing probably totals way more than those bursts of wisdom.

    Thanks, guys!


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