Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lies They Tell Writers, Part 6: Join a Critique Group—and Be Positive!

You’ve already endured my rant on why I’m not a member of a critique group. Brace yourself for the follow-up: why no critique group would want me.
It has to do with social graces. When moved to speak my mind, I have a hard time resisting saying what’s on my mind. No euphemisms. No ambiguity. Nothing cryptic. While I never intend to be unkind, it sometimes comes out that way. Most writers don’t want to hear it.
Then there’s the fact that I am irresistibly drawn to the negative end of the magnetic field. Whenever I look at a piece of writing, whether my own or someone else’s, the first question I ask is, “What’s wrong with this?” I automatically look for what’s wrong, I find it, and I fix it. It has been part of my advertising job for years, and it spills over into poems, novels, short stories, nonfiction, essays, magazine articles and any other string of words I encounter. Again, that holds true for my own words as well as someone else’s.
Here’s why. What’s written well doesn’t require attention or comment. It’s supposed to be well written. Fawning over it or heaping praise on writers for doing what is expected seems to me akin to congratulating them on remembering to inhale and exhale in the proper sequence. So, in the interest of better writing, I zero in on what’s wrong and why.     
On the other hand, if you can’t say something nice….
Maybe I should just shut up. Or stay away from critique groups. 


  1. Oh, I'd be in a critique group with you, Rod. Of course, I might slip up and say something complimentary about your work. :D

    1. Thanks, Vonn--but you may live to regret it. I'm not very good company in any circumstance.