Critique partners. Some writers have them. Some don't. So how do you know what YOU should do?
Do you really want a stranger pouring over your manuscript, ticking off items that don't make sense or red lining an entire paragraph for deletion? Does their opinion even matter? Its not as if a critique partner is the one accepting or declining your masterpiece. A masterpiece that you've spent countless hours fine tuning.
Why, just that one paragraph they marked for deletion took you almost an entire week to complete. They have no idea how many hours you spent staring at the computer screen searching for just the right words to describe your heroine's dress. Or the hours it took to research the designer who supposedly created the stunning gown she's wearing. Thats a lot of time and effort to risk on someone who couldn't possibly understand how important that paragraph is to your story.
Sound familiar? I used to think I was a strong writer and didn't need another person looking at my mansucript. Several rejections later I began to change my mind. I found a critique group and let them whip me into shape.
The first thing I learned was to let go of my ego. Trust me, it wasn't easy. Then I learned that no matter how well written a scene was...I'm talking pure romance gold...if it didn't fit, it had to go. Once I cut the emotional apron strings to my writing, everything else began to fall into place.
A good critique partner wants you to improve and will take your writing as seriously as they take their own. They want to partner with you. Rejoice in every contest final or win, jump for joy when you get the call, and beam with happiness when your first novel finally shows up at the local bookseller.
I belong to a great critique group. I can always count on them for sage advice, motivation, character analysis and praise when my story warrants it. I can also count on them to nail my butt to the wall if what I've written is dribble. They refuse to let me get by with "ok" writing. Do my feelings occassionally get bruised? You betcha. Does that stop me from submitting my next entry to them? Not at all.
Writing is such a personal effort. We pour our heart and soul into our work so putting it out there for someone to judge is not an easy feat. And yet how can we possibly expect to get better, to learn and eventually find publication if we don't allow another pair of trained eyes to evaluate our work? Its easy to lose objectivity when you've revised and edited a manuscript several times.
I would much rather have a critique partner toss my pages back with editorial suggestions than an agent or editor say, "Not for us." I've experienced both, and when the latter happens I always wonder if I've submitted too soon. Was my manuscript the best it could be or was there more I could have done to make it better?
I've judged contests where the entrant's plot was good, the characters believable and the story full of promise. What a shame that a "good" manuscript just needed another set of eyes to turn it into a "great" manuscript.
It’s a tough market out there, as we all know. A writer should submit their work only after they have made sure it is grammatically correct, formatted properly and above all else, a tight, readable story.
So where does one find a critique partner? There are many online critique groups within various RWA chapters. I personally like online because it goes faster, is easy to use "comment" balloons in Word, and is more business like. I'm a no frills person so it suits my personality and writing style. If you enjoy chatting and discussing the comments and reviews in person, by all means find a critique group that meets on a regular basis. You can always look outside your local chapter. Yahoo has lots of groups for writers. Craigslist has writer meet-ups. Post a request on your local bookseller's bulletin board. Ask a friend who is an avid reader to critique your work.
Its important to find a critique partner who is knowledgeable enough about writing techniques to offer sound advice without corrupting your story. You want someone who will have your interests at heart and will offer suggestions while allowing you to make your own decisions. Try the "Three Bears" test. Meet with three different critique partners. One will probably be too hard. One will probably be too soft. But hopefully you will find one who will be just right!
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- ► 2011 (222)
- Another New Kid!
- Another New Kid Intro and more RWA Conference Stuf...
- The Importance of Mentors
- Writing Rapidly with the Door Closed
- The Critique Mystique
- Nationals~ A Learning Experience
- At Nationals, And Still Not Going
- RWA National Conference
- Sunday Shout-Outs
- The Last of the Newbies
- Publishing News: Becca
- Intros all around...
- Newbie on the Loose
- Foodie Authors Unite
- I'm A Writer
- Another New Kid
- Welcome to All the New Kids!
- You Got the Write Stuff, Baby. . .
- Looking for New Kids
- GooGoo for Gaga
- Young Singers Club: Glee
- Happy Independence Day
- ▼ Jul (22)
Monday: Food of the Week
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes I
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes II
Wednesday: Foxy Foodies
Thursday: Best Foodie Books
Thursday: Writing Prompt
Friday: Food Network Shows
Friday: Food Shows on TV
Saturday: Foodie Romances
Saturday: Foodie Blogs