Monday, June 14, 2010

When to let others see...

When I first started out writing I would never even dream about letting anyone read my work until I had finished writing it, now, I don't think I'd get anywhere without the great feedback I get from my critique group.

I admit, I get nervous when I submit a newly written chapter, knowing that it's more probably going to be torn to shreds (over and over and over again), but isn't that how you learn and grow? By receiving honest criticism about what's wrong with the story or what I'm doing right, it helps me decide what parts of the story needs to be changed, and it helps to identify which parts are confusing (I'm experiencing that with my new story at the moment. I think something is straightforward and clear, but I've received a couple of reviews that questions the actions... now I'm stuck with trying to figure out how to describe it properly).

So, what do you look for when trying to find a critique group?
  1. Honest feedback even if it's negative - yeah, you might like someone who always loves what you're writing, but if they won't tell you which parts are not working, then you will never know what might need to be changed.
  2. Commitment - both you and your review partners need to be committed to reading and reviewing chapters on a regular basis.
  3. Understands/likes your genre - Someone that only reads romance might not be the best one to review a YA or Fantasy story (me, I'm a part of a YA crit group, so we all love what we all write).
  4. Supporting - well, this isn't necessary, but it can sure help. My crit group is always there when feeling down or there's a success. It's always good to find a group that supports your goals.

So, do you have a critique group or beta reader for your wriitng? And, when do you let someone read your writing?


Aubrie said...

I have beta readers and I look for all of the things you do. I like people that write in the same genre and people that don't, because they have other insights as to how to make my work better!

Zoe C. Courtman said...

I have some betas but don't do critique groups so much anymore. I do think it's important to have someone to spot your writing quirks, repetitive words/phrases and plot holes. A requirement I'd add for critique groups is to make sure the writers are all of the same caliber- or higher-than you, so that you get the most out of it :D

Erica Mitchell said...

I have a critique group, and we also have a free beta service. I started to find the more I critiqued other work the more I found within my own. I couldn't scratch out all the adverbs n' such without doing it in my own work.
My CP's distance themselves from me and my characters so it's like looking at the work for the first time. Otherwise we know at times because of our investment into the characters we could tend to glaze right over a plot hole.
They are nothing but honest, at the same caliber as Zoe mentioned (very important) and they have helped shape my writing. We have a varied group so it works out well.

Anonymous said...

Having a critique group is definitely necessary. For me, the trouble is when to show my manuscript to others. I've been doing it chapter-by-chapter, and it's useful, but can make it difficult to finish as well, as I always have the urge to go back and edit.

Jemi Fraser said...

I lucked into a crit group before I really knew what one was. My crit buddies are amazing - honest, kind & super helpful!

Anonymous said...

I'm not in a critique group right now due to not being able to devote the time and be fair. I have belonged to three groups and all of them were wonderful. My writing improved dramatically from the ones who didn't pull any punches. I love tough critiquers--they make you see things you missed.

Ju Dimello said...

I have a critique group, around 3 of us who met in one of the publisher forums and learning the craft along the way...and they have read my work when it was hardly a chapter done. I really really needed their insight (now I think about it), and suggestions, or else I would have never grown as a writer. Though I know I have loads to learn and achieve, without that initial support group, I wouldn't be where I am now ! So, thanks Pam and Hetal, if you are reading this !

One other friend whom I met online started as Critique Partner, but soon kind of turned into a beta reader. Her first impressions are something I have come to cherish :) She kind of hits the nail on the head on the plot, pacing and the overall feel of the book. She is really a voracious reader (I hardly wait for 2-3 days to get her feedback) and I should say am lucky to have her :-D

There were others whom I met, tried working with..but well, things didn't span out.. I guess it is just finding the right combination that works :) Good luck with yours !

Kerri Cuev said...

You need all those things in a crit. group. Good list!

For me it depends on my reader and what I need to get from their critique. Some I will let read early and others I won't. It also depends what that person's strong point you need plot, grammar ect.

Good post!

prashant said...

My crit buddies are amazing - honest, kind & super helpful!
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