Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday's Writing Tip: Utilize Another Set of Eyes

"Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Chinese Proverb

There's nothing like a second set of eyes (or a third, fourth or fifth pair) to help you shape up your manuscript!

It's amazing how wonderful something sounds to our ears after we've written it.  And all the praise we receive from loved ones who've read it, is pretty great, too!  But let's face it, writers need other writers to critique their work, otherwise, we're bumbling around in the dark, wondering why our manuscripts keep getting rejected.

If you're married to a writer, you have an advantage! But those of us who aren't so lucky need a writers group.  If you don't have any friends or acquaintances that write, there are lots of critique groups available online. 

If you don't belong to Writer's Digest online (think Facebook for writers), become a member--it's free! Different groups are available to join within WD online, and one is Critique Corner. There you can post your work and other writers will offer changes and constructive criticism.

Some writers have one critique partner, while others have several.  I meet weekly in person with a group of five. I love having the benefit of all those different skill sets, and I know my finished product will be a lot stronger with all the fantastic input I receive! 

In a group you'll see that someone might be great at line edits, while another person offers just the right dialogue.  Brainstorming ideas is always fun, and formulating a better scenario or plot twist can come directly from your critique group.

When other writers read your work, you'll also find out if what you've written makes sense to begin with.  And if it doesn't, your group can help you make it make sense!

Sometimes I think I've churned out a decent piece that can stand on its own.  But then Lisa, my writing teacher/group facilitator starts peeling away the layers (some that I didn't even know were there) to show me how to create an even better scene. 

After Lisa reads my work, I feel like I've written it looking through a peephole.  It takes her to open the door and reveal everything else out there that's waiting to be said!  She's amazing at digging deeper in a scene to bring it greater depth, feeling and clarity!

So, if you're currently floundering alone, join a critique group!  The writing journey to publication is hard enough--don't go it alone!

Do you belong to a writers group or have a critique partner? If so, do you meet in person or online? Tweet me @: maria_mckenzie. Thanks for stopping by!


Julie Musil said...

I belong to a group and wow, what a difference they make. They see holes that I never saw, and notice inconsistencies. They also praise the parts that DO work.

PK HREZO said...

You're lucky to have a group that meets in person. I've never met my CPs but that doesn't mean they're any less helpful. It's invaluable to have good CPs. Amazing what a few trusted ones can do for your ms!

Nas said...

Hi Theresa, I agree if only we were married to a writer, but alas it is not so. And I also don't have a critique partner, I know I'm the one on the losing side here!

Melissa said...

I have a very close friend who has a lot of experience beta-ing so he helps me out! I also have CP's who will be getting my book in January!

Elena DeRosa said...

I wish I had a local writer's critique group where I live that I could relate to. Pickin's slim here in Roanoke, VA! I'm going to check out that WD link. Thanks!

Norma said...

I belong to one at my church. We currently have seven members--three of whom do not live in the area. (April's in Florida, Nicole's in Kentucky, And Martin's in Canada.) Skype comes in handy!

William Kendall said...

Yes, it's a bit of a long distance writers' group, but it really does work!

J.L. Campbell said...

I'm a member of an online network. Quite a few of the people there have been amazing, with the result that my writing keeps evolving. It never ceases to amaze me how different writers see things other people don't, so by the time all my reviews are in, I realize I have more work to do or that I've done a pretty decent job.

Unknown said...

I'm a member of WD too. The feedback from the groups are amazing. I wish I had a group locally I could join in person but so far nothing. Love the Chinese proverb!

Carol Riggs said...

I prefer more than one critiquer. I do online swaps via email, usually--works well for me. I used to belong to a live group when I lived in a bigger city. Critiquer buddies are a VERY necessary part of helping me shape up a ms. I try to get it in the best shape I think possible, then am amazed at the things people find--things I never would've thought of. This is really important these days especially, when the market is tougher and tighter.

Maria McKenzie said...

@Julie: That's the beauty of a group:)!

@Pk: Near or far, trusted CPs are invaluable:).

@Nas: Be sure to join WD online and join Critique Corner!

@Melissa: You're lucky to have a friend who's a beta reader, plus some trusted CPs!

@Elena: You'll find WD useful!

@Norma: Nice to have such a regionally diverse group!

@Martin: And Skype helps:)!

@Joy: A group really does make your writing evolve!

@TC: WD is wonderful! But I hope you can find a local group at some point:).

@Carol: You hit the nail on the head! It's so competitive, we have to make our work be the best it can be! CPs are crucial to that!