Friday, August 18, 2006

Critters

Today I met with Vicki to exchange crits on the ms. I've got some work to do. Things to tidy up and another chapter to write. I took my characters from A to C by totally bypassing point B. I'll wait to work on it until I get the crits back from my other critters.

Critters...those who critique. What a special group of people. I'm of the opinion that it takes time and careful selection to find the right group of critiquers for you. You have to be able to trust your critiquers motives. If they have a personal agenda, they will not give you a true critique, but rather a gushy, unhelpful 'this is the best thing ever' or a brutal hatchet job that leaves you wondering if you have any business being in the writing game at all.

So what makes a good critique partner?

For me, I want someone to catch the errors my eyes have missed, and I want someone to take a look at the 'big concept' issues, as mentioned above. I also need some cheerleading, some attagirls, and a few, I really like this story.

A big thank you to my crit partners, Donna, Vicki, CJ, and Stephanie. I couldn't and wouldn't want to do this without you.

2 comments:

  1. I've been thinking about critique groups lately, and how I might enjoy being in one. Well, okay, "enjoy" might not be the right word, since I think that it would be a growing experience and growing experiences aren't often enjoyable while you're going through them. :) But I'm ready to have my butt kicked, I think, in terms of my writing, and I think a crit group would be a good starting point. How did you find your group? How do you structure your meetings?

    -Alison
    blog.alisonstrobel.com

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  2. Hi, Alison,
    Thanks for reading the blog. :) How did I find my critique group? LOL What a winding path! I joined the ACFW almost two years ago, and signed up for a critique group. They put me in a group with two other gals, both historical fiction writers. Would you believe that one of the gals had a story so similar to the one I was working on that it was spooky? I had to bow out. :( I joined a local writing group that went through some tough times as we sorted out how to give and receive critiques and what the writer's group should do and be. It was rough there for awhile, but some real blessings came out of it. I met some terrific people, one of whom is Vicki, my face to face critique buddy.

    Stephanie, another critique buddy, is a friend I met at the Florida Christian Writer's Conference. It was one of those things. We just 'clicked' when we met. She is so super for bouncing ideas off, and she is gifted in writing dialogue, one of my weaknesses.

    Donna and CJ are friends I met through a writing site. Donna has been a writer for a long time, had many things published, and has a lot of wisdom. CJ is the 'truth teller' in my writing. If something doesn't work, she points it out. If something works...she points it out!

    There are pros and cons to having face to face crits as well as online/email crits. Face to face, you get to hear the inflection of the comments and ask follow up questions. Just Friday Vicki and I walked through entire book crits for each other.

    Cons...sometimes things are painful, and you have to resist the urge to defend your reasoning and writing. I felt very comfortable with Vicki on Friday. Her comments were reasonable and well thought out, and a few of them were so obvious, I was wondering what I was thinking when I wrote it! LOL

    Pros of an online crit...you can leave it in your email box until you're in the right frame of mind to deal with it. You can take a step back, distance yourself from the critique and put it into perspective.

    Cons of an online crit...you miss the interaction of a face to face and it can sometimes be easy to misconstrue a comment or idea if you don't know your crit partners well.

    I think a comfortable critique group, one where you all contribute, all benefit, you can trust everyone's motives, and you all have the same goals, is not going to fall into your lap. It takes some networking, some trial and error, and a lot of prayer. I've been blessed to find a group of writers, from Florida, Mass., Ohio and Minnesota (where I'm from) who will take a realistic look at my work, tell the truth, and encourage me on to my dream.

    If you're at the point where you're looking for a critique group/partner, you're really growing as a writer. My first real critique, giving by Donna, was painful. She was absolutely marvelous, gentle and reasonable, pointing me in the right direction with grace. I, on the other hand, couldn't believe how stinky my writing was, why was I even kidding myself that I could do this, I need to close this email and walk away. After two days, I went back to it and began fixing the errors. I was so encouraged that everything she pointed out was 'fixable'. I learned to put on my 'big girl pants' and take a crit. One of the best things to ever happen to my writing. It will be for you too!

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