Today in chat rat brought up an interesting point. And, I've had it happen too. As a writer we put out our precious words for others to critique but the comments we get back are all over the place. What's up with that? How can we use comments that are so different or clearly don't get what we are trying to accomplish?
I think the thing to keep in mind is who the reader is. Not just who they are as a person but who they are as far as a writer/editor and just what they know about writing in general.
For example: At StoryCrafters we have many different levels of craft among our members. And that's great. We have beginners just starting their writing journey along with members that are not quite so new and are starting to feel confident enough to send out their stories and articles. Plus, we have a few writers who are more experienced, have some publishing credits to their name and are much farther along in their career.
The problem comes when we expect a new writer to critique like a professional. As much as they would like to, they just don't have the knowledge and experience to do so. But, we shouldn't look down on their critiques because of that. As readers they can tell us what they liked, what seemed wrong though they may not know why and what didn't work for them. It is nice to have a reader that isn't going to get so caught up in craft issues and ignore the story.
Another problem arises when a professional critiques a beginning writer's work as if they were professionals with publishing credits and a thorough knowledge of the craft of writing. Many new writers just can't handle the fact that they have lots to learn. As writers we are so close and in love with our writing we just can't see the flaws.
All of that to say...at StoryCrafters, everyone should take part in critiquing. Not only do you learn to see flaws in other's material, it teaches you to recognize it in your own. No one should feel bad for not knowing as much as someone else.
Also, no one should be afraid to post their work and ask for a critique. The goal of every critique should be to make the piece better. Not to change it to how we would write it or what we think would be a better story. We need to keep that in mind.
You know something though...the more critiques you do, the better you get at them. So, if you have access to the Snack Table, get yourself to StoryCrafters.
Do that critique to the best of your ability and help a fellow writer out:--)