So, as I’ve mentioned before, my face-to-face critique group meets on a Thursday night. Everyone comes to my place (usually laden with all sorts of snack food), I make coffee and we all sit down for 3-4 hours.
This week, we had two pieces to go through. A great prologue piece from Brian (as a free prologue to his already published book: Hell to Pay), and a chapter from #Hewhoshallnotbenamed. Yes, it’s a running joke, but there’s also a reason – so maybe one day we’ll share it. For now we’ll just refer to him as HWSNBN 😀
I’m a little OCD when it comes to critiquing. I open the piece in word and have at it with the comment feature. And I mean, have at it. The thing is, I find critiquing someone else’s work to be well – a learning experience. It enables me to find all these little things I do myself, or I realize can be done and therefore am more wary of when I write. From dangling participles, to telling too much instead of showing – from overused words right through to my English spelling. Every single piece I critique – makes me a better writer.
You’ll often hear this applied to reading. If you want to write, you have to read. This is more true than most people realize. The more we read, the wider our vocabulary, the better our scope of how fiction can be twisted and turned to fit the ideas in our heads, and the broader our understanding of how multiple genres work.
So, for me and others like me, I’d recommend that you not only read a lot, but that you critique a lot. Whether that means you take a piece of work that’s already been published and read through it, finding any things you might think could have been done better. Or you find a crit group where you’ll be helping others and yourself by critiquing their work.
One thing to remember when receiving critiqued work though, and this is very important: The critique is only from that person’s perspective. Stay true to your story, tighten the language and make it the best piece it can be. But it’s your story – make sure you don’t give in to other people’s opinions of how they might do it better.
I know that, at least for me, critiquing has made as much of an impact on my writing as reading has. And we don’t need to go into how mortally scared I am of having TDP critiqued.
Lastly – I’m contemplating a blog layout change. Simply because I feel there isn’t enough room on my sidebar for the things I want to put there. What do you think? Is it too cramped, how does the site navigate?
And let me know how you feel about reading and critiquing. What are your experiences? How does critiquing effect your writing style and methods?
(PS – If you haven’t yet looked at the Writing Campaign 2nd Challenge Entries – DO SO NOW! And please vote for the ones you like, including mine if you like it. I’m #17)