Back to sharing all the posts I’ve bookmarked and have yet to share on here…This one is from the indomitable Janet Reid. Another blog that I’ve pretty much followed since I found it.
And, anyone who ever thinks of querying her should do so as well. Won’t tell you why, just suffice it to say there are good reasons for my suggestion.
I have a blog post of hers from last May that I bookmarked: Posting your work for online crits? that’s definitely worth a read.
The reason I bookmarked it is this quote:
“You always want to be in the bottom third of a crit group. You want to be getting crits from writers with sharper skills and more tricks of the trade than you currently have.”
Sounds easy, but it’s really hard to manage. Because (a) most writers have no idea where they actually are in their writing and (b) trying to find people that are a lot better than you who have the time and interest in reviewing your work is very, very challenging. If they’re that good, they’ll take one look at your writing and try to go the other direction.
I have exchanged stories with writer friends, I’ve gone to my local critique group, I’ve participated in critique sessions at writers’ conferences, and I still have yet to be satisfied with my options. I’d say finding good people to critique my work (and not try to turn it into something completely different) is one of the biggest challenges I have to deal with as a writer.
And, honestly, a new writer can be destroyed by the wrong critique. Newer writers, and I’ve seen it happen, can pretty much destroy another writer’s voice with their too-mechanical or too-grammatical edits. You know the, “you can NEVER use the word had anywhere in your writing. EVER,” type of comments. I’ve seen critiques like that given and I’ve seen writers who took those kinds of critiques to heart and then their stories were one long series of trying to contort themselves around all these “rules” that destroyed the story.
It’s a crazy balance. None of us are good enough when we start to not need feedback. Hell, I think we probably all will always need feedback to some degree or another. But, at the same time, you have to be able to ignore a goodly portion of what others tell you and just pray that you’re ignoring the right portion.
So, bottom line, be careful with who you let influence your writing.