Monday, 13 September 2010

Who's Beneath Your Skirts?

You've toiled long hours over the writing desk, lost sleep, shed tears of frustration and hopefully joy.  And, finally your coveted WIP is at the stage for someone else to read it in full.   When it comes to critiquing your own work, whom do you turn to?

Evelyn Nesbit
Beneath my skirts?
As if!  You'll have to get past my polar friend first!
For me, this is quite an intimate undertaking....who do you let beneath your skirts, the dear lady whispers, twirling the hairbrush through loose tendrils.


Who can you trust to critique it for you, lavish you with good honest feedback.  This is the cold hard warts and all stuff you want someone to hit you with before you get to the querying stage.

Do you use a small group of friends, one, two...three?  Do you use a critique group online? Which works best?

From my own experience, I tried regular group sessions...sounds like therapy doesn't it?  I've read my work aloud to complete strangers; and it was great - only a little confusing.  If there were ten in the group - then it would be ten viewpoints I received back.  And seriously, can anyone deal with this many views without losing sight of the story you want to tell.

I find that having at least two serious critique partners combined with several good friends is the method that works for me.  If your friends fit your target market - why not?  For me the difference between this approach and a critique group is that these are people who know you...hell if my good friends can't tell me the cold hard truth about my work - then who can?

Let me know, which privileged souls do you allow in?  Who gets to read your lovely work before the querying process?


A/N: Any tips on critiquing, please feel free to share.
Photocredits via webshots Evelyn Nesbitt

29 comments:

  1. I write young adult so I have a couple of teens who read for what's in and what's not. I have two readers my age, one is my best friend (she doesn't spare me insults at all) and another is a writer I've met around the writing scene. I've done critique groups but it's difficult to get close enough to know if they're being honest or not. Sometimes they haven't the same likes or they're not in the same place as you are. So I take critiques with a grain of salt. If it sounds good to me I use it. I'm not afraid to disagree, though. That's all. :D

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  2. LoL! This post title got my attention!!!

    I'm not finished but I've had a lot of it critiqued in crit groups.

    My husband is really good. He tells me the truth and has good ideas. Since my MC is male, I try to get a lot of men's input. Don't want to emasculate Gardner. Heaven forbid!

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  3. LOVE the picture!
    I've made some friends in the blogger world who share similar interests and styles with me, and I have turned to them recently for feedback on a manuscript under revision -- and I have given feedback on some of their work.
    Rather than a regular group, I depend on who's available at a given time, interested in that particular work, etc. It may vary.

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  4. I have to admit, I am very, very particular with who reads my work. Only a select few have read my novels and I've received good feedback from them. Two others friends and I are just going to start critiquing this month. I'm looking forward to it.

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  5. I've had friends and family read it, but not for an in-depth critique. I rely on a couple of critique buddies. I'm trying a group for the third time, but I don't know if I'm a group kind of gal.

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  6. I joined a writing group about six months ago and found a priceless bunch that fit together so well! I can count on them to set me straight and call by bluff, so I consider myself very fortunate.

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  7. Wow, am enjoying everyones comments here.

    Hi Brenda, I like best friends who aren't afraid to insult-question-point out the warts in my WIP too! They're the best. I found some the feedback from within a group environment a little contrived because its almost a fleeting interaction with strangers. Either they love your work and will listen or their eyes glaze over until its their turn to read.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and for adding your great comments!

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  8. Hey Terry! We aim to catch everyones attention! LOL ;)

    Good to hear you have used crit groups, and I think thats great being able to get a lot of male POV for your character from your husband! So great to have him involved in your writing. We definitely don't want to emasculate our Gardner!

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  9. Hello Dianne,

    Thanks! I love that pic too - couldn't resist it! Blogger world is a great pool of talent - and like-minded writers who write the same genre are brilliant for critiquing. I think it makes it easier to work with someone whos at the same phase of the writing process as you are. You can bounce ideas off each other.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  10. Hi Melissa,

    Me too - I'm very protective of my baby...WIP. I really make sure that if I share it with someone for feedback that I get honest feedback and not just - wow thats great. I like friends who question the plot. One of mine BFF was devastated that I wouldn't let my main MC hook up with a certain character. LOL she got so involved with it.

    Good luck with your critiquing!

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  11. Hi Theresa,

    I hear ya, I love groups but I'm not sure I've experienced the right ones so far. Am happy with my organically grown/ virtual one with friends across the globe whom I've known for years; I share my chapters with them as they are ready for reading.

    Good luck - it could be lucky no three? ;)

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  12. Hi Cinette,

    That's brilliant! You're very fortunate, you definitely want to keep the ones the set you straight.

    Thanks so much for coming by! ;)

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  13. First thing I read it out loud to my husband. He's great at picking up small discrepancies and helping me make sure that it all makes sense. Next is my friend Heather. She reads through and tells me things like "this feels weird" or "this sentence is awkward" she also tells me what she wants more of, what needs a little tweaking and what she absolutely loves. It's nice to have someone give you honest feedback, especially when you trust what they're telling you

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  14. Nice to meet you Talei:) I'm over from Melissa's.

    I joined my current critique group a few months ago, and I couldn't have been more terrified. I appreciate those ladies more than I could have imagined~ they are God sent.

    I'm still leery about letting my family take any peeks:)

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  15. Nice analogy since it is a very intimate step to allow someone to critique one's writing. With me it's family. I have editors in the family so it works well.

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  16. I'm still quite secretive with my writing so far though soon I will want someone else to give it a good critique. I almost would rather it be someone other than a close friend to read it though. I think it would be easier to take criticism that way than with a friend. Time will tell though.

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  17. Hmmm, good question. I share my work with members of my writer's group, my husband, and colonists on Litopia. The feedback I've received from these folks has really helped me grow as a writer.

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  18. Since I am writing a cookbook, I must have writing critiques, as well as recipe testers. My cousin, Sharon, a fiction writer and graphic artist, keeps me on track, with the writing and lay out aspects. And my friends and family are all too happy to critique my culinary creations.

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  19. Hi,

    A case of whatever suits the individual, I guess.

    I have a retired fiction editor (friend) who loves going through my work when time allows, sometimes his editing is a tad cruel but mostly light-fingered on the criticism and like he says: what he passes as ready to go another ed will likely find fault, it all comes down to personal choice!

    best
    F

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  20. Hi Joelene, its definitely great to have family and friends who can give honest feedback! I love hearing my friends questions because it means that actually read the story and more importantly are keen to know more! ;)

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  21. Of course I meant Jolene!

    *whispers I'm typing hastily during my lunch* (apologies for any typos Ladies & Gents)

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  22. Welcome Tamika!

    Lovely to have you here. Thats really great you've found a lovely critique group too.

    Its a little scary showing work to anyone but when it comes to your nearest and dearest its always that little bit harder. IDK why? Maybe we get nervous of their reaction - but I bet when you're ready, they'll be supportive no matter what!

    Thanks so much for stopping by.

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  23. Karen - hello lovely lady, thats like having the best of both worlds - family who are editors! How lucky are you! ;)

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  24. Hi Jaydee, I felt the same at first but then I realised - actually some of my friends are great at this! It helps if your other friends are writing too - then you can be honest with each others work and work on developing that thick skin for later on in the process.

    Another approach - which I would consider is using a professional service, I've seen a few publishing groups offer this.

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  25. Hi Andrea, thats a lovely group of people helping you there - and I like that you mentioned it helps you grow as a writer. ;))

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  26. Ah Marguerite! Hello! Wow, that would keep you busy, cookbooks have so many different aspects vs novels. Recipe testers for example,and thats great your friend Sharon sounds like a true star! I wish I knew someone here who was writing a cookbook - I could happily do the tasting! LOL ;)

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  27. Hi Francine,

    Very true, its personal choice at the end of the day. Its whichever approach works for each of us and our lifestyles. You are a lucky lady having an retired editor for a friend!

    Thanks for stopping by ;)

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  28. I do belong to a monthly critique group but it's too sloooow to get through a whole book. So I use trusted betas I found on-line to give it the once over!

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  29. Hey Christina, great to hear you have trusted betas online. Thats one thing about critiquing, you want to hand your book over to someone you can trust. ;)

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