Last night at our meeting, five Slushbusters, three laptops, and piles of paper and notebooks crowded around and onto a table in Panera. The wireless connection was spotty. Sarah and I were both trying to connect to Skype so we could bring Lisa in. When we finally connected, we talked fast. I think we were afraid we'd lose her. Well, not her, exactly. The connection. You know what I mean.
For a meeting that covered some 50+ pages of work from two different Slushies, a few comments about work I'd already gotten feedback on, plus Joan's pictures from her trip to Alaska, we were very quick. Even after Lisa signed off. We usually critique her first, and let her talk to anyone else she needs to, but by then she usually needs to go be a mom again.
I got to thinking about how pared down critique can be. I learned at Chautauqua to look more at the big picture. The problem with a story is often not in the line edits, which we Slushies like to point out, one by one. It's in the overall thing. Like my WIP. Sure, there are line edits that need to happen, but the main thing wrong with it is that the plot needs more action. Most of the comments point to that in one way or another. Not all of them, certainly. There are still moments of confusion because I didn't clarify something. Or the voice sounded too adult for an eleven year old protagonist.
As we become better writers, we not only grow more efficient on the page, we grow more efficient in what we have to say about what others have written.