Necessary Evil

Until two weeks ago, I had been running from critique groups like they were the villain in my first book coming to pillage, mar and finish me off by hanging. Scary stuff, right!

A writer’s manuscript is like a mother’s child. We know they’re not perfect, BUT don’t you dare talk bad about my baby.

We pour our heart and soul into our manuscripts. Spend our days, hours, months, even years building a world outside the one we live in. The characters we create become people with emotions and pasts. People who grow a voice and demand the story be written the way they want. They care not about the writer’s storyline. It’s their life on the page, the only one they may ever get.

In the last three months, I’ve learned SOOO much about writing through the self-editing class I took, reading published novels like a writer, and my DSRA author friends. This is a good thing! But the novel I wrote a year and a half ago, the one I’d “edited” twelve times over when I didn’t know squat, needed work. I knew this, but I needed a kick in the behind to get me going.

Critique group to the rescue. I worked up the courage, registered, held my breath and submitted the first fifteen pages of my first novel manuscript, a.k.a. my baby on Thursday. The moderator collected all submissions and divided them up among the participants; some seasoned authors, some new authors, some newbies. Each participant critiqued three works and received three critiques on their work by Sunday.

The process was painless. Reading the critiques on my work was not. The poor thing dripped red with suggestions and corrections. BUT (there’s the but again) they were supremely helpful. I didn’t get shipped off the island, booed off the bus or laughed off the stage. Quite the opposite. My story was, “compelling and chilling” and they were ready to read more. My writing was amazing, for a beginner.

So, in the warmth of a critique group as opposed to the darkness of a trashcan in a publisher’s office, I found the things I need to correct and remember for future writing.

My advice to you writers: Find a critique group. Critique with people better than you. Intimidating? Yes, but it will make you a better writer.

Question: Do you use a critique group? If yes, what has been your experience? If no, why not? 

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Self-Editing

I spent twenty dollars, less than a half tank of gas, on a self-editing workshop and its value far exceeded its cost.

I wrote my first novel in three months. I spent three more months editing. After I let a few friends read it, I edited some more and was ready to query. But a little voice in my head said, “Not yet, learn a little more before you cast your baby to the wolves.”

Boy, am I glad I did! Through the seven day self-editing workshop, hosted by Roses Colored Glasses, I learned key writing tools crucial to the success of my work. The class, moderated on yahoo groups, was flexible to my schedule. Feedback given by published authors on assignments was prompt and constructive.

Now, it’s back to page one, novel one. “I will not be discouraged. I will not be discouraged.” My work will be better for it.