Giving Critiques on Writing

giving critiques on writing

I run a Facebook page, called Insert Story Here. On it, people – although it’s primarily aimed at teenagers, all can join – can post their stories, discuss writing and books and all sorts of literary related things.

I often post prompts, either in the form of picture prompts or word prompts or even simply questions. Some people reply with a story, some with a like or some just comment “nice picture” or something like that.

Someone recently posted two flash fictions on two different posts. And then sent me at least 5 different messages insisting that I give feedback and then getting angry that I haven’t. I wrote an open response to that person here, and I’m not about to delve into another rant, but I have something to say on giving feedback. And it was prompted by this, which she said: “You ask people to write a story based on a photo that you present? But no feedback, it gets lost, and then you do not even have the education to critique or give suggestions!!!” (the education thing? Yeah, that’s gonna be Friday’s post on Sprinkled With Words).

Some people pay good money for a critique. Simply Googling “writing critique prices” and clicking on the first result tells me that one company critiques 10 pages of your manuscript for $55 (£35.87) and an entire manuscript for $3.75 (£2.45) per page. And this woman was expecting me to give her a critique for free.

To be honest, I should have asked her to pay me, but there you go.

I am not saying that you should always get a critique and always pay incredible amounts – some writers don’t get critiques at all, and if your self-published you may not even have an editor. But if you do, do not expect a writer – especially ones who need the cash and survive on writing to pay their bills – to give you one for free. (Reviews, of course, and generalised feedback are often different. Some people will still pay for these services, though.)

Many people who do not write imagine that it’s the writing part that’s sluggish and takes forever. They’re wrong. Sure, it might take months to get the first draft down, but it will – if you do it right – take months after that for it to be completely polished off. And expecting someone to help you with this drag process, for nothing?! Dude. No. Totally uncool. It takes people who do critiques/edits to put a lot of time and effort into someone else’s writing, of which, by the way, they won’t see any royalties of – except for which they are paid by the writer. So of course a fee is going to be asked for, and of course you should expect to be paying one!

Obviously, not everyone is like this woman (at least, I really hope they aren’t) and some are rather nice, and respect writers for doing a difficult job which does require time and, often, payment. So, if you are one of those in the latter group, have an internet cookie and stay awesome.

(Also, if you have messaged someone asking for something, don’t continuously message them until they reply (unless it’s a friend/partner and you’re asking for a blanket from the other room or another cup of tea). It’s rude, uncalled for and highly unlikely to mean they’ll do it for you. Unless they’re extraordinarily nice. Or are being paid a lot. (And if you do this to someone who gives you a quota after you’ve gotten in touch, chances are this payment would be very high!))

(And sorry if this post sounded ranty-ish. Hannah: out.)


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