Critiquing the Critique

I mentioned in my last Writing Wrap-up that I’d asked four different people to provide me with a review and critique of my story, A Rose by Any Other Name.

The people who I asked to critique the story are all quite differen:.one is a published writer, one an unpublished writer, one a writer & editor of a magazine, and one a voracious reader. They all have different levels of education, generally read different styles & genres of books, and have differing views on the value of fiction overall. The only thing they all have in common is that I trust each of them to give me honest feedback.

On looking over the four critiques, the overall result was really interesting. Here’s some stats for your (and my) enjoyment:

  • The number of comments/corrections/critiques made by each individual (in descending order): 33, 23, 12, 6
  • Instances of contradictory comments: 2
  • Instances of multiple people commenting on the same issue: 4

Overall, the four people involved all found different problems and mistakes. Of the four instances where there were multiple comments on the same issue, two were typos that were pointed out, and the other two were contradictory suggestions.

A quick bit of maths will tell you that I now had 68 comments. Obviously I didn’t agree that every single one of those items needed to be changed (although I took all comments on board and considered them). So I thought it would be interesting to look at how many of each of the aforementioned comments by each individual was actioned. Why? Well, there’s a big difference between pointing out 33 issues, and pointing out 6. I wondered whether or not suggesting more changes resulted in more changes being made.

So, here’s the result:

  • 33 comments, 6 changes made
  • 23 comments, 18 changes made
  • 12 comments, 10 changes made
  • 6 comments, 4 changes made
  • Total changes made: 34

I’m not sure what this proves, other than that it’s definitely worthwhile having multiple people critique your work. Or possibly it proves that I over-think things, and spend too much time thinking about writing than actually writing…

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