synthroid kidney

Critique

You are currently browsing articles tagged Critique.

As promised, this is Critique Connection. If you are looking for a critique partner, briefly describe your manuscript in progress in the comments and leave a way to contact you. With enough people, the comments section will likely turn into a bit of an online dating site for people writing children’s books who want another set of eyes. Many critique groups and partners have come about as a result of this system and so I’m happy to keep doing it.

It’s up to you to decide what you need from a potential critique partner. Do you want them to look at your query? Your first 10 pages? Your entire manuscript? Be as clear as you can (and as realistic as you can about what you’re willing to do for others) for best results.

To boost your chances for a successful match, include the following information in your comment:

  1. Your audience and genre (ie: YA thriller). Most people are going to be writing PB, MG or YA because this blog is specific to children’s books. I don’t know how many have tried to connect with other types of projects, but I’d imagine children’s books do best here.
  2. A short description of your story. There’s no length limit but please be kind. :)
  3. A way to contact you. If you’re worried about spammers attacking a link to your email, format it like this: mary (at) kidlit (dot) com and trust potential critique partners to translate it to mary@kidlit.com.

Finally, be PROACTIVE! If a book looks good or even if it looks similar to what you’re doing (a situation that usually gives writers the fits until they realize that idea is just part of the puzzle and execution of that idea is where the differences are), reach out to that writer. Introduce yourself. See if there’s a connection. Writing is a solitary pursuit but there’s actually a tight-knit, awesome community out there. You never know who you can meet!

 

 

Tags:

It has been a while since I’ve opened up the blog to a Critique Connection. Writers are always asking me how to find critique partners so I periodically make a post where y’all can introduce yourselves in the comments and hang your “I’m looking for a critique partner!” shingles.

It’s simple: Comment below, list your email address (I recommend spelling things out like “mary at kidlit dot com” just so it’s harder for people or bots to spam you), and describe your project, the genre, the audience, whether it’s finished, and what you’re looking for out of a critique experience. For example:

Hey! I’m Mary (mary at kidlit dot com) and I’m working on a 75,000 word YA about space hamsters and the women who love them. I’d like a critique partner who vacuums my living room and cooks me dinner, but I’d settle for someone to give me feedback on my first three chapters.

Only try not to be a cheeky monkey in yours. Leave a comment or browse them and reach out to people who might be a good fit for your work. There are no guarantees here, but I’ve heard of several groups who have met and mingled as a result of these posts, so I keep doing them occasionally to give writers a chance to connect.

In other news, there are two workshops that I highly recommend, one through a lot of personal experience. That one is the Big Sur Writing Workshop put on by my former agency, Andrea Brown. It is truly phenomenal, a hands-on opportunity for close, personal attention on your pages from talented faculty and other writers. The registration deadline was last Thursday but there just might be more room, so it never hurts to double-check. If not, you should put this one on your radar, and know that it recurs every December and March.

Also on the west coast and a bit later in the summer in case you can’t get into Big Sur or need to scrape together pages or finances is the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop. I haven’t had any experience with this program personally but it is another interesting option to consider if you’re looking for the kind of intensive manuscript attention that’s a huge help for writers working on their craft.

Tags:

I speak and provide critiques at many conferences every year, and I also offer Writer’s Digest webinars that include critique. I work very hard on these critiques. Teaching writing is a passion for me (hence the blog). Most of the writers who get critique (at conferences, in critique groups, through the webinars, as a result of contests, etc.) approach it with the right attitude. Critiques are a learning opportunity. You submit your work, you hear feedback on it, and, eventually, you either incorporate the feedback or cast it aside. Sometimes a critique will completely click and validate your own instincts. Sometimes you won’t like it at all.

Let’s start by saying that, yes, some critique is just bad. It’s either totally off the mark (“Did they even read my story?”) or it feels mean-spirited (there’s a personal attack or they say something along the lines of “you will never ever ever ever publish”). Keep in mind, though, that telling you that your writing still needs work is not personally mean. It’s most likely honest. All writers, even published ones, strive to improve their writing, so “needs work” is not a bad thing. Just because someone doesn’t heap praise on you or call you “the next J.K. Rowling” in critique doesn’t mean it’s a bad critique. No professional critique would say such a thing, so if that’s what you’re expecting, you’re in for disappointment. Most critique may be hard to take but, if it’s honest and comes from an expert source, it will have at least one or two nuggets of truth or action items that you can implement in your writing. If you leave your emotions out of it, you’ll most likely find this to be the case.

Critique is a tool. It is given to you and you must use it how you see fit. Maybe not right away. Maybe you’ll put it aside for a bit and then use it to look at your manuscript afresh. But it is extremely valuable–it is another set of eyes on your work, which is a very rare thing for writers to receive. Let’s now go into what critique isn’t. Something goes on in critiques and at conferences that I call American Idol Syndrome. There seems to be a mentality in the creative arts right now (not helped by all the competition shows that have sprung up over the last decade) that all you need is your one shot at greatness and then you’re a star. Instead of doing the hard labor for years and years, instead of working your butt off, all you need is to be in the right place at the right time in front of the right gatekeeper.

Believe me, I love this dream. I remember being 12 or 13 and reading in Seventeen magazine that some model got discovered when a scout saw her at the mall, offered her a contract on the spot, whisked her away to a life of luxury in NYC, and then it rained unicorns and puppies on her forever and ever, etc. I won’t lie to you–I was much more self-conscious going to the mall after that. I always chose my outfit carefully and maybe even put on a little make-up, which, for me, is a huge effort. This fantasy is very appealing to humans. Work is hard. That’s why they call it “work,” instead of, you know “beach party.” We would rather have success tap us on the shoulder while we’re browsing Hot Topic and offer us the key to our dreams. But this happens much more rarely than you’d think in real life (that’s why we know the exceptions…they’re news). Especially in publishing, which isn’t as TV-ready-glamorous as fashion design, being a TV chef, modeling, singing, etc.

I know that when writers sign up for a conference or critique, there’s this little part of them that thinks, “Maybe I will meet my dream agent and we’ll ride off into the sunset together!” Heck, I met one of my now-colleagues at a writer’s conference. Writers connect with agents, editors, and other writers at conferences all the time. But those meetings are a lot less about luck than they are about hard work. The writers that do find their agents and editors at these things are the ones who have done years of work on their craft, who are coming to the conference savvy and informed, who have bought a critique that brings them to the right person’s attention, and who have done as much as possible so that they’re ready to be fallen in love with.

Louis Pasteur said: “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” The people who win Idol have, most likely, years and years of voice lessons and musical theatre and practice behind them. They look like they’re just randomly being “discovered” on TV, but their entire creative life has brought them to that moment. It’s the sweaty, repetitive part that the cameras don’t show you. This goes for any creative endeavor.

Now. There is a small set of writers who do not react well to constructive feedback. They are the ones bitterly disappointed that they were not “discovered” as a result of a conference meeting or critique. All they wanted to hear was, “This is a diamond in the rough and I will publish it right this minute!” Anything else, no matter how sound the feedback, is crushing. If you are pinning all your hopes and expectations on one conference or critique, and you feel like “this is it, or else…,” I would save yourself the trouble and stay away for now. It is very likely that your unrealistic expectations will be dashed.

Publishing is a tough business, and writing is, by its very nature, emotional. Writers, especially those striving to publish, need thick skins and heaps of resilience. I’d encourage everyone to adjust their expectations of mega-stardom and insta-fame now rather than be disappointed in the future. That’s not to say I’m thinking small. I would love for all of my clients to be #1 bestsellers! But you can’t go in expecting that to happen, or the journey will be very angsty for you. Hope for great things (every conference or critique is an opportunity to grow), but don’t require them. Screw your determination to its sticking place, and get into this game to learn and grow as a writer. That’s the good stuff right there. If you happen to take off, it will be that much more satisfying, and you will have a very strong craft foundation to bolster your success.

Until that happens, if you still want to play the one-in-a-million odds at instant stardom, line up to audition for the next season of Idol. I guarantee that you won’t be alone in pursuing this favorite of human fantasies.

Tags: , ,

Every once in a while, I open up the blog comments to a Critique Connection, a post where you can hopefully meet some new critique partners. To participate, leave a comment on this entry with the following information:

  1. Your genre (ie: fantasy, paranormal, realistic, historical, etc.)
  2. Your audience (ie: picture book, MG, YA, etc.)
  3. A little about your manuscript (practice your one-line “elevator pitch”)
  4. What you want out of the experience (a critique of your XX,000-word mss., someone to read your first 3 chapters, help with your query letter, etc.)
  5. Your email address for potential partners to contact you (I’d type it in the following format: mary at kidlit dot com, so that you avoid spam bots.)

Only post a comment for this entry if you are looking for a critique partner.

In other news, I am going to take a Blogcation the last two weeks of December and the first week of January, (Dec 19 to Jan 6) so there will be no new stuff on here during those three weeks on any of my blahblahblogs. However, I’ll ramp up my “From the archives” Tweets, so if you’re not following me on Twitter and Facebook, click those links and do so. I often pull out old articles that are still just as pertinent to writing and publishing as they were when I wrote them and broadcast the links to those who may not have been readers yet. I’ve got a blog full of material from early 2009 on, so there are a lot of posts to peruse!

Tags: ,

Howdy, readers! Summer has been a bit slow on the blog. Do not fear. After Labor Day, starting next Wednesday, September 7th, the posts will once again be full steam ahead. In the meantime, I’ve been meaning to open the blog up to another critique connection post since early summer, and here it is.

Before I do, let me tell you about the latest Writer’s Digest webinar I’m doing. In July, I offered a picture book craft intensive, focusing very specifically on writing for the youngest readers. It was my first “specialized” webinar and it was an overwhelming success. (Thank you so much to everyone who listened to that one! I’m digging into critiques for it right now!) On September 15th at 1 p.m. Eastern, I am offering a Middle Grade and Young Adult Craft Intensive webinar.

This 90-minute webinar will focus exclusively into the craft of writing fiction for the middle grade and young adult audience. I’ll talk about the marketplace, strategies to really make your novel stand out in the slush, character, plotting, tension, description, setting, voice, submissions, queries, and much more. It’s the first time I’ll be focusing exclusively on MG and YA, so even if you’ve taken one of my webinars before, you will be getting brand new content. You can sign up by clicking here.

The bonus of my webinars, as many of you already know, is that they include a critique from me for every registered student. For this one, I will read and critique the first 500 words of your MG or YA novel (one project per student, please). Instructions for submitting will come when you register for the webinar.

If you’re having scheduling issues with the time or date, don’t worry. By signing up, you will receive a recording of the webinar (emailed about one week after the original webinar date), you will have the same chance to ask questions as the other students, and you will still get your critique. So sign up even if the time or date doesn’t work for you!

This brings us to Critique Connection. I’ve done these posts in the past and leave the comments open so that you can connect with potential critique partners. Here’s what you need to post:

  1. Your genre (ie: fantasy, paranormal, realistic, historical, etc.)
  2. Your audience (ie: picture book, MG, YA, etc.)
  3. A little about your manuscript (practice your one-line “elevator pitch”)
  4. What you want out of the experience (a critique of your XX,000-word mss., someone to read your first 3 chapters, help with your query letter, etc.)
  5. Your email address for potential partners to contact you (I’d type it in the following format: mary at kidlit dot com so that you avoid spam bots.)

Only post a comment for this entry if you are looking for a critique partner. I will leave it up until after Labor Day to get the most exposure for it. And while you’re thinking of getting critique, do sign up for my webinar!

Tags: ,

I’m reading this great book called HOOKED by Les Edgerton, out from Writer’s Digest Books. It is awesome. Not only does Les have a great teacher’s voice, he gets into the nitty gritty of just why beginnings are so important, and then tells his readers how to nail this crucial part of their novels (he also talks about beginnings in terms of short stories, but most of his advice is geared toward novelists).

At the awesome NJ SCBWI conference this past weekend (I have such a blast every year, if you haven’t gone yet, go!), a writer asked a similar question during the Saturday morning agent panel. Why do we request what we do and how much can we tell from a writer’s beginning? Another writer said that her novel had a slow start but got really good about 15 pages in, and she wanted advice on how to get agents and editors to that point.

Let’s not beat around the bush any longer: your beginning is the most important thing you’ll write. And often rewrite, and rewrite. Not your query letter, your beginning. It’s also of the most difficult, because not a lot of people know how to write a killer beginning. You hear me, you query-obsessed writers?! So not only is there a lot of pressure on your writing and scenework and characterization, there’s also a lot of pressure because, without fail, the beginning is what makes you or breaks you in terms of attracting a reader’s attention. This is true whether that reader is an agent, editor, or a kid picking your book off the shelf and skimming the first page when trying to decide whether it’s working or not and whether she should buy it.

If you think of yourself as a slow starter, or if you know that everyone starts their story with the character waking up but you want to do it anyway (because you, of all people, have the perfect excuse), or if you find yourself starting with a lot of exposition, or if your beginning moves so fast (a rare but different problem) that the reader isn’t feeling grounded, or if you keep getting rejected after sending writing samples, or if your action-packed prologue drops off to reveal a first chapter drained of tension, or if people tell you that they really get into the story, but later, your beginning isn’t working.

To that, I’ll add a common problem that I’ve been seeing all over the place lately: if you either start a new scene in a different setting or if you go into a flashback within the first two pages, you’re not starting in the right place. Start in the right place and stay there for a bit before yanking us away from it, yeah?

So…what do you do about your beginning? Most writers rewrite theirs over and over and over again. By the time you reach the end of your story, you’ll most likely have to zip over to the start and change the whole thing in keeping with what you’ve learned since you first wrote it. You can also read HOOKED. Or you can send your beginnings to me and I’ll randomly pick five to dissect on the blog.

That’s right. It’s been a while since I’ve asked for any writing samples from my readers. I’ve already done a beginnings contest (and a post on beginnings), but now I want to do a beginnings workshop. Here’s how you participate:

  1. Copy and paste your first 500 words only into an email message. We’ll focus on MG and YA here, sorry picture books.
  2. Subject line: Kidlit Beginnings (do not put the words “query” or “submission” anywhere near the subject line or it will go into my slush and I won’t find it and you don’t get to participate).
  3. Don’t tell me anything about plot or character in a cover letter…the beginning has to do that work for you.
  4. Send it off to mary at kidlit dot com before Friday, June 17th. If you don’t get it in in time, you don’t get to participate. Not because I’m not nice, but because other people will have figured out how to follow directions and I want to reward them.

I will choose five beginnings to showcase on the blog. I’ll attribute them to your name. So don’t send me something unless you want it to appear on the blog, with your name. As I’ve done in the past with queries and beginnings, I will give you constructive notes, and everyone will learn from them. I’ll be choosing beginnings based on the teaching opportunities they give me, so it is not a reflection of you as a writer or a person if your submission is or is not chosen to be workshopped. Being chosen doesn’t mean it’s bad or good, neither does it being not chosen, etc. Let the beginnings games begin, and go read HOOKED by Les Edgerton (but not before you submit your beginning, because then I’ll have nothing to teach you)!

ETA: Sorry, guys! About 100 writers were too fast and sent in samples already and, since I’m only going to do 5 workshops, that is so much more than I need. If I keep this opportunity open, I will just disappoint that many more people. If you didn’t get your sample in to me, please don’t despair…I will do more workshop opportunities again soon. Again, so sorry. I know how frustrating it is to have someone announce something and then take it back, but I just can’t, in good conscience, solicit more work at this time.

Tags:

I just spent an amazing weekend at Big Sur with my colleagues, some great editor and writer friends, and a whole gaggle of talented, hardworking writers. How refreshing and invigorating (and, of course, exhausting, but so worth it)! I was especially proud of my workshop groups at this Big Sur because my writers became so close that they were eating together and hanging out long after our scheduled sessions were over. There was even talk of extending the conference connection and forming a critique group after the weekend ended.

This made me think, as I frequently do, about the glory of critique groups and readers. All writers need them, no matter if you’ve never thought so or had unsuccessful situations in the past. Good critique partners and readers are worth their weight in gold, truly. Seeing critique in action made me think of reader Melissa’s question:

What’s the best time to start submitting work to a critique group? Should you wait until it’s finished or submit chapters as they’re written? Also, are beta readers the same as a critique group?

The point of critique of any kind is to get other eyes (ideally, eyes that belong to writers who know what they’re talking about) on your work. How do you do that? First, there are critique partners or critique groups (the name isn’t important). These are other writers who you exchange work and commentary with, ideally on a regular basis. Some writers love working with local groups, but you don’t have to know your crit partners in person…these groups work well over the Internet or the phone, too.

Critique partners or groups work best when writers convene regularly and are committed to one another, so that a core group can stay together over the course of many projects. Critique partners become intimately familiar with your writing, your stories, your strengths, weaknesses, and goals. This kind of continuity lets you get down to business and really get into the nitty gritty of the writing (ideally…you can read more about what makes a great critique partner or group here).

Some groups all want a writer to have a completed manuscript, others will be open to seeing work in progress…sometimes literally as it comes hot off the press (or printer). You should talk this over with your critique partners and make a decision that appeals to everyone.

It can be useful and exciting to get feedback on a project while you’re still creating it. It is even more useful, I think, to finish something, revise it on your own for a few passes, and then bring in your critique partners. A novel changes so much during the writing process, that it may be more helpful for you to work it out and get it written first, before even thinking about feedback and revision.

There is a small distinction, in my mind, between critique groups (or partners…I’ve used both terms interchangeably here) and beta readers. When I think of critique partners, I think of a group that meets regularly, will read whatever you give them, and really drill into it. That could mean reading an entire manuscript, or it could mean reading twenty versions of one chapter as you try to get it right. Critique groups should be very hands on and intense. Beta readers are people who read the whole manuscript and give feedback, but who may not give as much writing/revision/craft advice as your regular critique group. Beta readers are great if you want new eyes on a project, or if you want to hear from someone who doesn’t already know the story (like if you’re writing a murder mystery and really want to see if your red herrings work, but you’re worried whether your critique partners, who already know the whole story, will be able to judge after a few revisions).

Most of the professional writers I know have a regular critique group and then a few beta readers who they reach out to after the manuscript has been revised and polished, just for some quick feedback and a last minute read before it goes to their agent or editor, just to make sure the book is working.

But if you’re just starting out, don’t worry about having a pocketful of beta readers and a five-person bi-monthly, dedicated critique group. Maybe find a partner online (through the Verla Kay Blueboards, or the SCBWI) or at a writer’s conference. If that partner doesn’t work, find another one. I just did a Critique Connection post a few weeks ago, so that might be a place to search. The point is, start finding some critique opportunities and getting comfortable with the practice of giving, receiving, and incorporating feedback from a supportive community of writers. Hone your revision skills. Take it one step at a time. You’ll find the right mix that works for you.

Tags: ,

The Florida conference this weekend was actually very…relaxing! Not what I usually say about a conference. But in between pitches and meals with the attendees, I got the chance to sneak away to the pool and bask in the 86 degree sunshine. So I don’t have any pictures, nor do I have any shenanigans to report. In fact, I’m thrilled that this was a very easygoing and low-key conference. (Thanks to all the attendees, the FWA board, and Mary Lois Sanders for having me!)

Today’s question is a quick one, and comes from a recent post soliciting questions, from Zoe:

If a writer decides to have an MS professionally edited by a reputable editor known in the biz (I dunno, an Alan Rinzler or a Lisa Rector perhaps), should the writer ever mention it in the query?

It’s totally up to you whether you choose to mention your connections to a freelance editor in your query letter. There are a few thoughts that spring to mind for me when I read in a query that a manuscript has been freelance edited.

On the good end of the spectrum, I think: Oh, great! This writer is used to working with someone else in an editorial capacity and has probably had to revise this manuscript quite a bit. They may be more savvy that some others in my slush about the whole process. I’m about to read a polished piece of fiction.

On the not so good, these are the thoughts that can also come up: A freelance editor always improves a manuscript, but how much did this one improve and, more importantly, at what level did it start? Did the writer solicit a freelance editor to put some professional polish on the project, or because it had gotten rejected all over the place and they needed serious help? Does this writer belong to a critique group or do they rely solely on freelance editors?

I know that lots of writers work with freelance editors. There are pros and cons to this, as well as to mentioning it in your query. (You can read some more freelance editor thoughts from me here.)

If you’ve managed to work with a big name freelance editor, my ears might perk up, of course. The bigger the name of your editor, the more selective they can afford to be. They tend to vet their projects and pick the most promising writers to work with. But this is not always the case. So while a freelance editor’s name may trigger good associations for me, or lift my hopes, it’s not going to be the deciding factor in whether I want to represent you or not.

It always comes down to the work. And, in the back of my mind, I always want to know that you have arrived at your work in large part because of your own writing craft. So if you have used or continue to use a freelance editor, I will want to know about it at some point, whether it’s in the query or later, as we’re discussing representation. I’ll want to make sure that you actually have the chops to create a great, skillful manuscript on your own, as well.

Tags:

People were such fans of my Critique Connection post in April that I wanted to give new readers a shot at it and existing readers who didn’t find their love connection more space to find possibilities. I’m thinking of turning this into a semi-regular thing.

Remember, finding the right critique partner is like dating. Don’t try one or two and decide that critique isn’t for you or that you don’t benefit from feedback. I just went to Utah and saw the kind of passionate, supportive writing community they have there. I’m more convinced than ever before that a critique group is the secret of writers whose work is above and beyond the rest.

So keep trying. Try to find good critique partners here, try other online resources, try writing classes at your local university or bookstore, get creative. People still post on my April Critique Connection, so I’m sure there’s still interest.

If you want a critique partner: write down your name, the age range you write for (picture book, chapter book, MG, YA, etc.), your genre and anything else you want to say about your story, the word count, your email address so that prospective partners can contact you (I suggest typing it like this: mary at kidlit dot com, instead of mary@kidlit.com, so you don’t make yourself a spam target.) You can also tell people a little about how you like to work. Do you like to exchange chapters? Read full manuscripts? Do you give notes? Do you want to Skype? It’s up to you to work out communication style, critique frequency, and other rules with your new partner.

People who’ve posted on the April Critique Connection thread recently: You may want to repost your listing here to keep it most current.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve made any critique connections from April, and any other thoughts you might have. Then cruise the comments and see if your next critique partner isn’t listing themselves, ready to read your work!

Tags:

In light of my recent Critique Connection post, where I’ve let readers who want critique partners climb out of the woodwork and introduce themselves, I wanted to focus on what it means to be a great critique partner today, which was a great suggestion from MY critique partner, Martha, in the comments for my last post. (Thanks for keeping me on my toes, Martha.)

So, if you’ve followed the blog long enough, you know that I can’t put enough emphasis on critique and revision. That’s where writing truly grows. First, because nobody can have a perfect (or anywhere-near-publishable) novel in one draft. At least not when you’re starting out and learning about writing. Second, because you cannot be anywhere near objective about your own work. Even if you’ve had many, many books published, you’ll still get feedback from beta readers. All of the published writers I know do this for their first, their second, their tenth books. And I honestly believe that you learn so much from critiquing the work of others that it should be a required exercise for anyone hoping to get published.

What does it mean to be a great critique partner? You give more than you get. Lots of people go into a workshop or critique situation and sit there until the group gets to their submission. This is a waste of everybody’s time. If you’re going to get valuable critique on your own work, don’t miss out on the valuable learning experience of being able to critique the work of another person and do it well.

What else does it mean to be a great critique partner? You don’t just focus on the what, you focus on the why. Sure, any idiot can say, “This part doesn’t work for me.” But when you articulate why something works or doesn’t work, you’re putting your finger on the writing craft and taking its pulse. Does a section seem clunky because there is too much description? Is there too much telling in a writer’s characterization of someone and you don’t actually get a clear sense of who they are? Is a writer’s dialogue clunky because they use a lot of adverbs and physical choreography in their dialogue tags? These are getting to be more concrete than just saying, “It’s slow” or, worse, “It sucks.”

Great critique partners don’t pass judgment and they aren’t prescriptive. Everyone who sits down at the page has got to start somewhere. Everyone writing today is on a different part of their writing and learning journey than the writer next to them. Good critique partners can see and understand the strengths and weaknesses of a particular piece and a particular writer in the moment, and work with that. They give constructive feedback, don’t judge the overall merit of the work (because you’re all there to improve, right?) and they don’t tell you how to fix whatever issue they’ve identified. A writer friend of mine says, “If they tell you what’s wrong, they’re probably right. If they tell you how to fix it, they’re probably wrong.” Critique groups can be sounding boards for the writers’ ideas, sure, but they should never tell the writer what to do or what to try. That kind of playing around and imaginative work is how the writer learns, on their own, to make their story stronger.

Balance is important in critique groups. You want one or two really amateur writers, but none more than that. You’ll also want one or two people on the other end of the spectrum, and a few in the middle, depending on size. Be careful of getting into a group of people who are all the same level. You need different abilities, strengths and weaknesses, or you won’t grow as much.

Personality is also important. If you don’t like your critique group or trust them, you’ll stop getting any benefits from the exercise very quickly and you’ll start to resent the whole process, which could leave a permanent block on your writing path. It’s okay to try several groups or several people… you want to find a good fit, not just the first person who’ll read your stuff.

Finally, the worst thing your critique group can say is, “It’s fine” or “It’s good.” Even if it’s good, your critique group should always be pushing you to new horizons in your writing. All my published writer friends who are in critique groups get feedback, tons of it, and it helps them take their work to the next level. And those are published authors, even bestsellers! Sure, they could probably get their first drafts published, some of them, but why would they want to?

It’s all about growing and learning and evolving in the writing business. It’s up to you to find partners who are like-minded and who understand that. And once you get their feedback, it’s up to you to use it in your work and do the revisions. I may write a post sometime about processing feedback and using it in a constructive way, but I think I’ve given you some food for thought to start.

And again, everyone, go to my previous post and cruise the comments to see if any critique partners catch your eye. If their email isn’t listed, post a comment. If you want to write your own “Critique Partner Wanted” ad there, make sure to post your email so people can get in touch with you.

Tags: ,

« Older entries