To slightly paraphrase an old joke-
How many critique-group members does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Why does it *have* to be changed?
I have a few beta readers I adore. They offer to read and give feedback, asking for nothing in return. [I haven’t checked my bill box today yet. ;)] One of them referred to the tireless work he has done to improve my stories as ‘something worthwhile to do.’ I know there’s a special place in heaven for those who read pre-published manuscripts.
Critique groups are different. Writers helping each other improve, with the understanding that as much as you get, you will also give. I belong to one such group, and eight of us take turns each week giving feedback to one member’s story.
I do well with my beta readers, because I get each as a single review. I have time to think about it, and consider what to accept and what to pass on. I set it aside and get back to the reader’s suggestions again and again, until I feel I have gotten the last drop of help. I can also return to the reader and ask questions and re-visit the story after implementing some of the changes. To be honest, I rarely do this. I almost always ‘see’ what they suggest or I don’t ‘see’ it. But knowing I can come back sets me into relaxed openness, and makes a fruitful revision.
It is different with a critique group. My experience with mine, getting seven sets of suggestions all in one week, can be overwhelming. “Why,” I find myself asking, “is it this particular critique is the only one to see it?” Sniff-sniff. “Why do two think this is a strong sentence, their favorite, and two others think it should be deleted?” Humph.
Never one to ‘just go by the majority,’ I have to consider each on its own. That’s a lot to look at all at once.
So I developed a strategy, which works for me. I read each quickly as it comes in. I highlight what strikes me as entirely valid. Then I set it aside. All of them. Seven hard copies of critiques sit in a folder, quietly waiting.
A week later I will re-visit them one at a time, with at least a day between visits. I will copy the suggestions I want to consider onto a fresh document. When the visiting round is over, I will look at the copied suggestions and work from there. I will not look back at all I have chosen not to implement for now. There is such a thing as ‘too many cooks.’
And I remind myself I am the master chef. It has to taste good to me.