Remember the first few seasons of American Idol? Simon, Randy, and Paula were the panel of judges, and each had their own styles of critique.
Simon, of course, became known for his sometimes blatantly harsh feedback--sometimes bringing hopeful performers to tears. But when he gave someone praise, they were usually REALLY good. So it was one way of knowing someone had the it factor. And if I were a singer and Simon gave me a compliment, I'd know I for sure I had a real chance of a singing career. He predicted Carrie Underwood would go on to win the show as well as become a major star in the very beginning of her season. Look at her now.
Paula, on the other hand, never wanted to hurt anyone's feelings. She was polite, sensitive, and gentle. I often wondered if it was because her own singing voice was never very strong, although very unique. She really struggled with telling people their weaknesses, but at the same time, she helped balance the feedback that was given from the panel, and probably saved a lot of egos from sinking into a perpetual abyss of failure. Her agreeable style of feedback was a welcomed relief for many aspiring performers.
Randy was somewhere in the middle. Not as blunt as Simon, but not as gentle as Paula. His tastes in music seemed to vary, and he could enjoy a performance and style that Simon would scoff at. That was important too, since not everyone will be a mainstream hit. Randy represented the audiences that could march to a different beat, and that was cool. Because we NEED variety.
So you can see where I"m going with this, right? How each judge brought something important to the table. When you're critiquing someone's work, which judge are you more like? Or do you range between the three mentioned here?
For me personally, when someone's critiquing or beta reading my story, I want a little of each. I want honest feedback even if it hurts, so that I can fix what's wrong and grow as a writer. I want it to be softened with gentle words so my ego isn't ripped to shreds and I know I can press on. And I want my work to be seen as an individual piece of art that doesn't have to compare to what's already popular or mainstream.
This is also how I try to critique others. I believe the golden rule applies here more than any other. We all know how valuable it is to find CPs and betas who truly get our work and help make it shine. And critiquing others' work has helped me grow as a writer in so many ways. I've learned more from evaluating others' stories than any paid workshop has ever taught me, and it helps me pick out areas for improvement in my own work.
I say seek out new CPs and betas with each new story, and tell the ones you already have how much you appreciate them.
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So put your thinking caps on and get creative, because this is going to be so much fun. I don't even have to think about who my arranged marriage should be to. I've swooned over him ever since I first read the book. :)
Sign up below and spread the word! The more the merrier!
And Happy New Year!!
Tell me, do you find value in your critiques--the ones you give as well as receive? Are you Simon, Paula, or Randy? Or a little of all three? Please share ...