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Friday, August 21, 2009

A Good Polish Couldn't Hurt

By someone else, of course! Sometimes, we've been walking around in the same pair of shoes for so long that we fail to see the scuff marks. That's when a good shoe shiner comes in handy. After all, he does know shoes, doesn't he? This is why having other writers read our work is so important. After hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks, and even months and months of looking at our writing, we can't see the flaws anymore. We become accustomed to them. They become the norm. Up until now, I've only let a few family members and friends read my ms. They were very helpful, and pointed out some things that were easily fixed, but they aren't writers. They don't know the ins and outs of the craft. Well, I'm taking the next step. I'm sending out my manuscript to a couple of fellow writers. It's both daunting and exciting at the same time. I only wish I had done it before I queried! Any advice? And, it's Friday, which means it's time for the next recipient of the Silver Shoe of Sincerity Award. This award is intended for those who show complete sincerity in their blogging. For more information, visit this post. Remember, you are under no obligation to pass it on, but I'd smile if you did. And you don't have to post it on your blog and link it back her, but that would be nice. :) So, that being said, this week's recipient is Rae, author of Weather Vane. Her posts are always so honest, and more often than not, they make me laugh. Plus, she comments a lot, and you all know how much I love comments! Go pay her a visit! Have a great weekend!

39 comments:

KM said...

I have to say that joining two critique groups has improved my writing more than any other thing I've done. I've learned a ton from fellow writers who have been through what I'm going through now. They also catch all my slip-ups like telling and too many 'to be' verbs.

And, of course, it's cool to network with other writers, who can understand why you like to sit in front of the computer so much and type away about people who aren't even real. ;)

Tess said...

I'd never be where I am (not that I'm finished in my journey...) without good critiques: from conferences, from betas, from groups and partners. It's amazing how they have taught me to learn from my mistakes. good stuff.

jbchicoine said...

Susan,
I think it’s important to be clear on your expectations. Sharing your work for critique can be as daunting as offering the feedback. No doubt, you have specific concerns regarding your work. From what I’ve read online, it’s good to have a list of things you want your reader to concentrate on, while leaving it a little open-ended for candid observations.

It is exciting, isn’t it.

Liana Brooks said...

I recommend a critique group, just to get some extra eyes on the MS.

I joined a critique group several years back and I'm still there. But I have narrowed down who in the group I like to see my first few drafts. They're the ones whose feedback is the most helpful. Once I think the MS is solid I feed it to the wider range of Critters.

Janna Qualman said...

Mmm... a good polish sausage couldn't hurt, either... ;)

I love your analogy, and how well you related it. Thanks, LW!

Corey Schwartz said...

It's great to have feedback from other writers! I'm always amazed at the range of comments that come up in our critique group. You never know who will give you the one gem that turns into a eureka moment!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Congrats on getting your writing out there for critiquing. It's a big step, but a necessary one.

I tried linking to weather vane but it didn't go through.

storyqueen said...

Writing groups are great! It really helps to know from other writers what their thoughts are.

Shelley

Karen said...

It is amazingly helpful to have other writers read your work. They have an insight and an eye that family members, while well-meaning, just don't.

I have two writing buddies that have been helping me every step of the way with my current WIP, which is good. But then I also wonder who's going to look at it when I'm all done? These two might be a little too close to the project as well...

Stephanie Faris said...

I definitely need to get back into a critique group. I actually had an agent SUGGEST it! The problem is, I write romance, young adult, AND women's fiction...so I'd have to have three critique groups, probably!

TereLiz said...

Critique groups are necessary to a writer's creative process, I think. You can only go so far by yourself before, as others have mentioned, you simply fail to see the problems right before your eyes.

And while online writing sites can be beneficial, esp. to craft, only the people who have read your work from start to finish can give you objective feedback on story as well.

Great post!

Jill Kemerer said...

I love my critique partners. They point out the problems in such a nice way. And I laugh at some of the mistakes I make. Please!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I went through my manuscript, my critique partners went through my manuscript, my editor went through my manuscript and now that I'm editing it, I just found an error. LOL!

Heather Sunseri said...

I've been thinking a lot about critique groups, but I don't know if I truly have the time to devote to that quite yet.

Congratulations to Rae!

Strange Fiction said...

Congrats Rae! And congrats LW for taking the step and putting your work out there. I've critiqued my son's writing and as jbchicoine says, it is very useful to provide a list of your concerns and expectations. Having more than one critique partner is also a good idea--everyone sees something different.

Weronika said...

Hope you get the necessary feedback! :) Keep us updated on the progress.

And congrats to Rae!


P.S. I love your continuing shoe theme -- it just doesn't get old. :)

Nancy said...

Don't have your mom read it. I find moms can't believe their daughters can do something as big as writing a novel. Critizue groups are nice when you can get them.

Jody Hedlund said...

Family can't read our work objectively. I quickly found that out, even though my mom is a writer herself. So I paid an editor, mainly because I don't have the time for the give and take of a crit group. It was worth every cent. And I have a great relationship with the woman who edited for me even now.

Cindy said...

I think it's great you're having other writers read your work. I also wish I had done so far sooner. But since I've joined my critique group I've seen so much in my writing that I couldn't have seen on my own. I've learned a lot and grown and everything about it has been beneficial and enjoyable (including being able to read their manuscripts--so much fun!)

Solvang Sherrie said...

I've always found critiques from people I trust to be very helpful. I don't always agree with everything they say. But most times, after I get over being angry, sad, hurt, disappointed, whatever, I realize that they had a LOT of good points.

FictionGroupie said...

We're embarking on this journey at the same time , so I understand the nerves. But I think having beta readers and/or a critique group can be so helpful. Like you said, when you stare at something so long, you can't see the forest for the trees.

Stephanie F, I'm in the same boat. I write YA and romance, so probably would be separate critique groups.

Rae said...

Oh my goodness!! I am flabbergasted and honored all at the same time. You have so many great writers here. I am just a small fish in this circle. I don't pretend to have the talents of those that comment here.

I write itty bitty short stories, but I do it from the heart. I am pleased that you like them. As I scrolled down to see who had won the award I had to do a double take. Thank you so much Susan. I am sincerely and deeply pleased. This will be passed on for sure.

Lily said...

First, the award... Rae is so deserving! I'm delighted you picked her blog. She is so very sincere. I've become quite a good friend of hers since meeting her here in Blogville, that now we e-mail and share the 'secret' parts of our lives. She is a fantastic person!

Second, the critique... I have asked a friend to read my ms when I'm done. Not just any friend. This lady reads several books at a time and goes through many every week. I feel that, aside from another writer, she is most qualified to critique my ms. I also plan, now that summer is almost past and things will slow down a bit, to seek out support in my community. I do know there is one local writer that self-published a year or so ago. I will find out if there are writing groups in close proximity and use them to the fullest advantage.

Jungle Mom said...

Another educational post. I just love all shoe theme!

Patti said...

I've definitely learned more after other writers have reviewed it. Most of my family members wouldn't know how to critique it.

You'll be rewarded for being brave.

Tabitha Bird said...

I think that is a great step! I have just sent my writing off to my first critique buddy fro comments and I am nervous too. But I agree, we just don't see what is right or wrong with our own work sometimes. A fresh pair of eyes is a good thing I think.

K. M. Walton said...

When family and friends read my work they all gave compliments, and that was it. I didn't want only compliments - don't get me wrong - I liked hearing the good stuff - but it didn't push me to become a better writer.

It's when you get your ms into the hands of a KIND third party, who is honest with you and KIND, and gives you detailed advice, thoughts, crit points, well, that's when you get pushed. And you get better at writing.

Beth said...

I was just talking about critique groups with a writer friend of mine yesterday. She is hesitant to use a group, because she's not really sure what qualifies THEM to critique HER work! (Let's just say there might be a little bit of an ego issue there!)

I have only let a few friends and family read my MS, but I agree with most of the other commenters that they can't really be objective - so it looks like I will use either an editor or a critique group when I get up the nerve!

Great post, as usual!

Karin said...

Congrats on taking the step to have it critiqued. With my first mss I had lots of friends read it. Then I queried. I got a request for a partial once, but that's it. So, I hired a friend/editor to look at it...but she's not a fiction specialist. Still nothing.

THEN I joined a fiction writers critique group - WOW! I can't believe I waited so long! It has been nothing but wonderful (that's not to say that it's easy to hear the criticism, but it's always necessary).

Good luck with it!

Kathryn Magendie said...

I have one bit of advice - have someone who is not a writer, but who is not a friend or family member read - just a "regular old reader" - it gives a new dimension to the thoughts on your ms - writers will "notice" certain things and comment on things, of course, however, a Reader will read just as they would another book - and give you insights of a different nature!

If you pick someone who isn't a friend or family member, they may feel free to be honest, and as well, they won't connect the book to you!

Anna C. Morrison said...

It can be startling what other writers see that I missed. Critiques are priceless!

Suzanne said...

I echo all comments. You have to be wrong. We have to start from a place where we know we need the help, and then we have to be strong enough to know what to change and what not to change. It is really good practice to keep two copies (at least!) of your work. I play around with one, deleting things... reinventing things, just to see how it all sounds, and this helps with critiques too... I can send out new ideas to my parter.

Great post!

Amy Tate said...

I was amazed at how many time I'd written the word, "grimaced" in my MG novel. After chapter three, it was hysterical! I don't know what I'd do without my critique partners.

Kathy said...

To be honest, one thing I think writers need to do is make sure they tell their beta readers what kind of feedback they want/need. And I think the readers should honor that.

I had one person give me pretty much a "great job" type of response. Well, that's nice but doesn't really tell me much about each chapter. The other extreme was a "critter" who gave me line by line feedback/critiques. Sounds nice except I didn't ask for that. I told her I just wanted her general impressions of the plot, characters, pacing, dialogue, does it make sense, etc.

I feel that if beta readers are re-writing my story then it's not MY story anymore. It's up to me to figure out how to make it better based on another writer's feedback.

#167 Dad said...

Jimmy Stewart once said the two keys to a happy life are a comfortable matress and comfortable shoes...

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Yay! I love the award and already know some of my precious and loved beta readers who deserve it. I created the Thanks A Latte award, so feel free to share that one in the future too. ;)

Diane said...

I am amazed at how you can always relate your awesome thoughts to shoes. It must be a girl thing!

Amy De Trempe said...

It is scary to give your work to someone who knows the craft to read and critique, but also so worth it. Even if you do end up with a lot more edits to do, the writing will be better for it.

WhisperingWriter said...

Yes, I think allowing other writers to read a manuscript is important. I think family and friends might be too polite and say things like, "It's great!" without being perfectly honest.