I was talking with a friend who worried that the critique of her memoir by her group was verging on the personal. Where is the line between critiquing the work, and critiquing the person? She wondered if perhaps people were wanting to know a bit too much about her, rather than sticking to the work. This is an interesting quandary because when you're in a critique group presenting your work, you want the criticism to be focused on the work, and not on you. But in memoir, the work and you are pretty much one. Where is the line? Good question! If a friend in a group says, "Why did you react that way? We want to know more about how you really felt," that may seem to be a personal question, yet, it's relevant to the work because maybe it's just not on the page, how you felt when your mother said that horrible thing to you. When you're presenting fiction and a workshop member says, "How did she really react? It's not on the page," we don't feel personally attacked, because the criticism is about a character, not you. This is especially on my mind because I'm also writing a memoir and find it interesting, parsing what someone is saying about my work and what parts of what they're saying I need to pay attention to.
What do you think? Should memoir and fiction be critiqued in different ways? Where's the line between focusing on the work (in memoir) and focusing on the writer?