A beginning writer asked me what the difference is between critiques, reviews, and endorsements.
Let’s review what each means in relation to the craft of writing:
Critiques: These are critical evaluations of a person’s literary work. If you are writing, you are likely to be in a critique group where you share your work in progress with other writers. You point out errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation. You also talk about sentence structure, characters, conversation, and many other aspects of the writing craft. The idea behind sharing critiques is to help your fellow writer. Think of these as peers helping each other.
Reviews: a critical consideration of something. We are familiar with writing reviews of restaurants, businesses, and products. Movies, plays, and events are often reviewed. In regard to books, one writes a short analysis, stating positive and negative aspects of a person’s work. Sometimes the reviewer is also asked to rate the book in terms of “stars” or “happy faces.”
Endorsements: an act of giving one’s public approval or support to someone or something. Endorsements are often written on one of the first pages of a book or on the cover. These are often read by consumers prior to purchase to help them decided whether to buy a particular book—or not.
I am one of the contest coordinators for the upcoming Rattler Writing Contest, sponsored by Christian Writers of the West.
I have been encouraging beginning writers to enter when the contest opens on August 1.
They are often hesitant because they don’t feel they have a chance to win, when put up against more experienced authors.
However, winning shouldn’t be the primary reason to enter a contest. (Remember, there will be only one grand-prize and perhaps lesser “category prizes.”)
In my opinion, the major reason for entering a contest is the feedback from the judges.
Those few paragraphs are golden nuggets—suggestions to make your writing more exciting, your characters more interesting, your plot stronger.
Once you receive your feedback, reflect on what the judges have written. It is so easy to become angry and just throw their words in the trash, but remember why you entered—and their status in their field—and give careful consideration to what they have said. Writers must develop a thick skin, bearing in mind that the goal of critiques is to HELP you.
You can always find a friend or relative to validate your writing and tell you how wonderful you are.
But, if you want useful suggestions, then choose your contest wisely, SUBMIT your best work, and seriously consider the judges’ comments.