How criticism can ruin a story

I’ve recently been reading up about critiquing and giving sound feedback in groups and came across a couple of author blogs. In both cases, the writers discuss the negative impact that group feedback can have on writing and I thought they raised some interesting points.

In the first blog post, entitled ‘Why I don’t like writing groups‘ by Justine Larbalestier, she shares how difficult it is to receive feedback on her writing and, more importantly, the kind of shared group thinking that can take place – one person mentions a criticism and ‘sways’ the rest of the group in the same direction.

In the second blog post, ‘Can critique groups do more harm than good?’, Kristen Lamb covers a series of points about how writing groups can actually hurt a story. She talks about how groups can lack perspective. By focusing on 1000 words of a story, it can skew the reader’s experience of the story and focus criticism on the micro, rather than the macro issues of a work. Another point, close to home for me, is the way that groups can start to condition us to reach a state of having ‘perfected’ the work. Some writers can spend years polishing a story, based on the feedback of a writers’ group in an attempt to get it ‘just right’ and acceptable by the majority of participants.

Both are worth a read!

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