Will the day ever come that I don't need more than one set of eyes on my work? I don't think so. I dare say that best-selling authors have had at least one editor's pair of eyes to scour over their work. Novice's like me need much more than that. Writers need feedback before publishing. Both the dreaded and loved kind. Dreaded because they take your precious baby and tell you things that are wrong with it. Loved because they praise the choices that work and are beautiful. Feedback should include both.
This past week my new critique group gave my first submission--the sequel to my Book of Mormon fiction--the once over via ooVoo. Three faces on my screen told me lots of specifics that needed fixing. While I trusted that they new better, especially where all three agreed, I couldn't help feeling a small stab wound on my baby. It was a lot to take in. It's been a while since I've taken live feedback, but I'm certain my skin will quickly toughen up like it has in the past. Then I did something that made sense and made a difference to how I felt. I summarized.
When my time was about up, I said, "So this is what I'm hearing: My beginning is confusing, I need to start with the second scene, and my character needs more personality. Right?" Okay. I could handle that. I summarized the multiple markings down to three main issues. I'm not sure if I've ever handled it this way before, but I like it.
In reading my partners' second submissions, I read through, marking little things I noticed--good and bad. Then I wrote a short summary of the main issue(s). I plan to use this summary in opposite order with my partners when we meet. They can take the specific markings at their own pace later. If the discussion leads away from the summary, no problem. It's a great place to start when giving or receiving feedback.
In other words:
To critique: mark passages first, summarize second. To give feedback: summarize first, review marked passages second.
If you try "The Summary Method", please let me know how it worked for you. Happy critiquing!