One of the great things about participating in writing groups is the opportunity to have your work critiqued by your peers. This can also be one of the hardest things – your peers can often cut you in two with their critiques.
Let’s face it, if you have thin skin and overreact to any comments about your work, you need to have an attitude adjustment. Not everyone is going to jump up and down when they read your mother’s favorite story.
But on a practical note:
Peer reviews are simply one person’s opinion UNLESS they give you precise feedback. (They’ve included detailed information about how the grammar doesn’t work, typos, syntax errors, and other technical comments.)
Peer reviews should be used as the benchmark for your first or second draft. Do most of the readers express harsh criticism? Maybe it’s the story OR your writing. Evaluate your process. Take your own critical look at the concept. Did you do it justice, or did you hurry to produce ‘something’ to meet a prompt or a deadline?
Watch out for the Revenge reviews. Quite often, in a peer review situation, a writer who is hurt by your critique of their work will read and review your work and leave a snide, negative remark. Take these critiques for what they are – sour grapes.
The Other Side of Things:
Take your time when you review the work of others. Start out with a positive comment about the piece, and then ‘gently’ approach the things you saw that didn’t work or were poorly written. End on a positive note.
Your reviews will be accepted and appreciated if you are honest and fair. When reviewing others’ work, keep in mind that they feel the same way about their work as you think of yours.