Thursday, December 07, 2006
Joining a Critique Group
I had always heard that every fiction writer needs a critique partner. But I hesitated for years to get involved in that, because I just wasn't sure if it was for me. For one thing, I was fairly new at being a writer and was still feeling my way along. Who was I to give another writer a critique? What possible help could I be? Well, recently I fell, by lucky chance, into a blog group and some of the members suggested a critique group. You see, we all set our stories in the Victorian era, so we each should know enough about the time period to know the historical accuracies or inaccuracies. We could be more helpful than a critiquer who knows nothing about the period. I decided to give it a try. What did I have to lose? If I decided it wasn't for me, I had the option of dropping out. Well, since joining, I've been pleasantly surprised. My fellow critiquers point out things that I should have seen in my manuscript, but obviously didn't, so I can make corrections before a contest judge or editor sees it. They also tell me when something seems missing. You see, I know my characters so well, that I don't always explain things to a reader's satisfaction. The same with the background. I, as the writer, of course know the setting my characters are in, but I often neglect to describe it so that the reader can see it. All in all, this has been a great experience for me. For one thing, it keeps me writing. I need new chapters to put up for critique. But also, I learn from the critiques I have to do. I catch mistakes in their writing that I've made in my own. It makes me more conscious of those things in my own work. But those mistakes always seem to fall through your own radar. That's why I've decided, at least with the particular group I've found myself in, that critique groups can and do work.