12 Nov

“It just needs a little tightening.”

I’m at a round table critique and the person to my right has just been given one of my least favorite pieces of advice. This tip is right up there with “show don’t tell,” which, as a wise editor just pointed out to me, is impossible since all storytelling is telling.

“Okay,” the writer responds and nods like she understands. What else can she do? I’m sure the vagueness of the critique will hit her when she gets home and starts trying to revise. “Tighten where?” she’ll think. “Cut? Or add more? To which part? Develop a character or remove some of the characterization details?”

I’ll likely write off whatever the critiquer says about my piece. With that one word, shejust rendered her advice useless.

What is the worst piece of advice, writing or otherwise, you’ve ever gotten? Did you turn it around and make it work for you? If so, how?



Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Critique


Tags: , , , ,

3 responses to “Tighten

  1. unpackedwriter

    November 12, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Good points. Keep asking those specifics. You need useful critique not just a parroted line that made the critiquer feel literary. Ask your reviewers for specific examples of how to change your work or examples in literature or their own work… without this the review feels intrusive and even off putting. Thank you for your thoughts on this.

    • cocoanqueso

      November 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      I realized after this critique that sometimes, even when people are trying to critique to help someone else, they say things that they need to say for themselves. I’m sure I do it too and don’t even realize it. Understanding that I think will help shurg off the not-so-helpful critiques. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this too!


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