Cleaning out the fridge (of critiques)

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We've covered resting and editing. But how long should you let critiques rest before you use or dismiss them? 

Once you've taken the leap and put yourself out there in the form of a story, critiques often become a hairy issue. You want them and you love to hear input on your story but as they start to fill up your comments sections you notice that you've got some mixed feelings about them. Just like when you open the fridge and see piles of tupperware dinners, there will be critiques that you like, that you don't like, and ones that make you kind of nervous because you can't tell what it is just by looking at it.

But the longer the crit sits there, the more you know you've got to eventually decide what to do with it. It's time to be brave and see what you've got.

Before we go any further, though, I want to distinguish between comments/reviews and critiques.

Critiques are about the writing and for the writer. They are almost always given with the knowledge (or vain hope) that the writer is looking to and likely will edit sometime in the distant future. 

The focus is about the story and making it better. Very often, it's an open dialogue with the writer (IE: if you pm a critter they are often happy to explain themselves or offer further advice). Critiques tend to be specific and address specific elements or areas in the writing. There might be opinions mixed in, but they're mostly backed up with context, or can be, if you ask.

The critique is your mother admiring your freshly vacuumed room and telling you that you missed a spot, and your shades are crooked and one pillow isn't quite as fluffed as the other. Or it's your grandmother, telling you that your buttercream frosting needs a splash of milk. Or, in my sister's case years ago, it's me telling her that her cake turned into cornbread because, in most recipes, "white sugar" does not mean "powdered sugar." 

Two things to note here:

A short critique is not a comment!

99.9% of people giving critiques aren't out to get you! They're just trying help your story succeed the best way they know how to.

Comments and reviews are for the reader and often reflect personal opinions. (Mostly. Obviously a writer can look at them and having comments can make you feel better than silence.) C&R are meant to provide observations, and are not given with the knowledge that the writer is going to change anything. A comment is a closed conversation. The person leaving the review or comment has absolutely no obligation to you or the story. They can say whatever they want and they do not have to defend themselves, explain their position, or ever respond to you. Comments are usually general and nonspecific and aren't given with the idea that the writer is going to further edit the work.

A comment is a person walking down the street and saying you have a beautiful dog. Or your sister saying she doesn't like pickles on her burgers, or the bishop claiming Charles Darwin is a crock or that Shakespeare used too many adjectives. 

One thing to note here:

Be respectful of people's opinions, even if you don't agree (or want to smash their stupid face with a hammer). If you posted or published something in a public space, they have every right to be there and there's often very little you can do about it (if it happens off Wattpad). 

Sometimes the line can blur, but that mostly depends on whether you, the writer, are done with your book or if it's still being edited.  If you put it up on Amazon and you're  never going near that sucker ever again, everything is now just a comment. If you're still trying to perfect your story, maybe everything, even "Bob seems mean" is a critique.

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