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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Eek! (02/25/10)

TITLE: A Heart-Breaking Critique
By Marilyn Schnepp


When a mother shows you a picture of her newborn baby, do you ever give her an honest critique? Or when a father carrying a little one in his arms lifts off the blanket and shows you the little one's face, saying with a smile of pride, "What do you think of my newest production?" Do you tell the truth? Or do you lie to be polite?

Nobody would ever stoop to critique a baby, especially not to the parents. To say, "His eyes are a little too close together," or "her mouth is too large for her face," is strictly off base and never done - even in our modern impolite, disrespectful and anti-civil world we live in today, it's a No, No!

However, we're all writers, right? (Or at least wanna-be writers), and whatever we write is like our baby. Something we worked on for hours, trying to make it into something unique, fascinating, inspiring, unforgetable and perhaps accomplishing a lump in the throat, a tear in the eye, or a smile on the face of our readers. Writers are proud of their work....so, Yes, just like parents, we're ever so sensitive when it comes to a critique that puts our baby down.

But here's where the two must part. A child needs compliments to improve their growing process, whereas a writer needs honest critiques, to improve THEIR progress. Many times I don't finish reading a story because it is downright boring....but could I dare put " too boring" down as a critique and break their heart?

This is one time "being nice" doesn't help a writer eke out of poverty into a millionaire Best Seller List. If an article, poem, essay or story is boring, has bad grammar, incorrect paragraphing, no oomph, or wrong punctuation and badly needs editing, why can't we just be honest and help them?

My favorite critique idol is Simon Cowel, the mean judge on Amrican Idol. He's mean, but honest; and althouh he get's booed regularly, he always gets the biggest ovation of anyone on the panel when his name is announced. Take notice next time. People evidently admire honesty.

Following his example, I will critique the word "eek". It was not found in any of my three dictionaries, nor would Spell Check accept it as legitimate; So, if I'm going to be an "Honest-to-goodness Critique Artist", and try to eke out a living at it, I'm going to have to ruin, derail, demean, and squash out an innocent, but illegitimate baby by the name of "Eek."

Sorry folks, but that's the way it is, and until Daniel Webster says it's "IN", and Spell Check agrees... Honesty is still the best policy.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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Member Comments
Member Date
AnneRene' Capp03/04/10
I loved this! And I admire and totally enjoy Simon Cowel! I also like you speaking what we all feel and you spoke it well! Good Job, Kudos and thank you :)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/04/10
You're right our work is like our babies.I agree in being honest as long as the critique is constructive and not downright mean, we can learn much more this way than from an empty pat on the back.
Dolores Stohler03/05/10
I like this article for its honesty and, sorry folks, but I agree that Simon is right in line for discouraging those would-be artists on American Idol who "can't carry a tune in a basket". We are all much too sensitive for our own good. I am deeply grateful to those who dared to offer constructive criticism on my writing. It helped me do a better job next time.
Allen Stark03/05/10
Not everyone understand good critique etiquette, but coming from the right people it is very helpful. Terrific job in explaining what it's all about.
Glenda Lagerstedt03/06/10
Very humorous and honest approach and a wonderful new spin on using the "non-word" in an essay.

Now...if you will excuse me while I go figure out how to use 'hmph' in an intelligent and creative way....
Brenda Shipman 03/07/10
I loved the connection you made between writing and babies. And yes, I agree - Simon is almost always right, honest (sometimes brutally so!) and the one we listen to the most. Great job of communicating what we all feel and think as writers. Honest critiques can sometimes be painful, but we need them in order to grow!
c clemons03/08/10
Great job and good point. I try to always be honest when giving a critique. I can't stand fluff, and it's not really helping the writer get better. Sometimes it comes across as harsh, but I have received many private messages thanking me for an honest critique. And I appreciate receiving them critques). I will not get offended because if is done with the intention of helping, how can I?