By Ada Nicholson Brownell

Critique appears to be the miracle cure for manuscript maladies these days. Yet, I often avoid it because the process involves pain.

Truth is, I can’t avoid critique.  It started with Mama.  In a home full of 10 people, two parents and eight children–but seven fiery redheads, you might understand why after one of my temper fits Mom would say, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath.” (James 1:19. Without parents’ critique, the world would be a lousy place.

Teachers critiqued my work continuously, from my attempt to read, “See Dick. See Dick run” until after I had written a book myself. Piano teachers criticized my playing, always insisting I count the notes “One-ee-and-a Two-ee-and-a Three-ee-and-a-Four-ee-and-a” over and over. I thought music flowed quite well between my fingers and ears, bypassing the counting section of my brain.

Now, as a writer, critique gouges my internal processes, diagnosing ugly diseased portions of my writing, yet pointing to cells that give life to a piece. Sometimes I am motivated toward a healthier use of words. I often need to cut fatty verbs, adverbs and adjectives.

Working with words is exciting, first because of the One who wants us to share the “Message,” but also because words used properly help achieve that purpose.

Reading our words aloud, experts tell us, is one of the greatest ways to improve our writing. I’ve come to appreciate the way language sounds. Words came to mean what they do primarily because of the way you hear them. For instance, “spear.” The “r” gives a sense of something sharp. How about “breeze?” Can you almost feel it? Soft? The word itself is squishy. “Hollow” creates an echo. When we listen to our words we create scenes and atmosphere.

Don’t quarantine your talent. The truths you share might be contagious.

SCRIPTURE: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:10-12KJ)


Ada Nicholson Brownell is a free lance writer who lives in Springfield, MO. You can find her at her website, at her blog Ink From An Earthen Vessel, and on Facebook.

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