Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If you're a Hamline student

...then you may be on your last packet. It's almost time to pop a cork and congratulate yourself, right?

I'm finishing my critical essay and received feedback from a writing peer. Her comments made me feel like my paper is a winner, yet with needed edits that are totally doable.

This made me think of the importance of giving critiques. There are different ways, many use the sandwich approach (good-bad-good).

During my first semester, Hamline instructor and acclaimed author Claire Rudolf Murphy had the ability to look past my junky over-writing and find the true story. If she attacked my work with pointing out every negative aspect, or what she didn't like, it would have totally devastated me. I'm sure I would have quit the program right away. And when it came to an element of craft that she noticed I was struggling with, Claire would suggest that I write an essay on it. Jane was the advisor who helped me to reach deeper into the plot and character. She structured her feed backs in the form of questions that made me think about the story. She helped me recognize my grammar weakness. And her comments were stern, yet empowering.

It's important to give feedback to help the writer grow, and not necessarily from personal opinions. It's a fine line, I know. Here's the thing... depending on our circumstances, some moments we are like rubber-- everything bounces off, we make adjustments, and keep it moving. Other times, we are like glue, and all the negative comments stick, weigh us down, and keep us stuck.

What critiquing techniques do you find effective?


  1. Questions are a great way to help someone think deeper about their work. I know I always respond and go places I never would have but for the questions of my advisors, fellow students and home critique group. The day you stop receiving critique is pretty much the day you stop growing as a writer.

  2. I love questions. One of my past advisors used that technique. It helped me to go deeper and explore more. Thanks for sharing.