Critique Groups Help
Writing is subjective. Each word is a choice. Letting others read and comment on your writing is an excellent way to consider, correct, and hone your choices and to develop an understanding of how others perceive your writing.
Join the group with the bedrock knowledge that you are a writer. As a writer, you are seeking help from the group to polish and perfect your writing project. Keep this idea at your heart because sometimes the critiques can be harsh and unforgiving. The critique formula should actually be positive-negative-positive, but criticisms are easier for most people than compliments. Grin and bear it remembering that you learn from the criticism, not the compliments.
I have worked as a writer and an editor. I know that no matter how excellent a writer may be at his craft, an editor can usually make it better. I once visited the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. and took a long look at the editor’s office exhibit. On the desk was a stack of paper, obviously an article for the magazine. To write for the National Geographic, one must be good, yet the article was full of editor’s corrections and comments.
Expect your writing to need corrections and advice, and you’ll be on solid ground at a critique group. You need the help.
They also can point out the inconsistencies. On page 3 you described your protagonist as red-haired with green eyes, but on page 23, your description says blonde and blue-eyed. This kind of inconsistency is so easy to do. A character was drinking coffee here, but there you say it’s tea. He was sitting in one paragraph but pacing the room in the next. Other readers see the things you miss.
Once in a critique group, my chapters were on stage, but one of the group members suddenly boomed, “These are nothing but talking heads!” He was right. I had written a page of dialogue without descriptions of feelings, movements, or anything else that would make the scene come alive. Lesson learned.
Don’t forget that your critique partners have their own biases and neuroses. I was savagely critiqued by one group member, but I said nothing because it had become obvious she had a deep-seated psychological problem with someone like me and used me as a target. Also, she must have felt her writing was perfect, and any critique was a personal attack against her, so she sought revenge.
Each critique you receive is a gift and deserves a thank you.
I found my critique groups through membership in the Maryland Writers’ Association. For those seeking beta readers, there is also an email list of people willing to read your novel and comment on it.
Probably the most common word in a writer’s life is rejection. Not everyone will love your baby. To help deal with rejection, I recommend the book, Rotten Reviews and Rejections, which is a collection of harsh reviews and rejection letters received by well-known and loved authors such as Jane Austen, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many, many others. Read it and take heart.
Eileen Haavik McIntire is staying home during the current coronavirus crisis. She hopes you are, too. What a great time to write and read!
Jan. 13, 2020: Speaking on "Self Publishing," 7 p.m. South Baltimore Chapter, Maryland Writers' Assn.
Blog: The Writer as Victim. See BLOG Page for complete column.
“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
I love reading and writing mysteries. Here are two of my latest.
From Kirkus reviews -
“McIntire’s latest novel is a fast-paced and multilayered thriller with well-developed characters and colorful settings...Most of the action is set in Virginia, and McIntire does a fine job of capturing the rhythm of its small-town life, from the friendliness of local business to the calm of quiet nights on the water. An engaging tale for aficionados of psychological suspense.”
The 90s Club & the
"The fourth title in author Eileen Haavik McIntire's "The 90s Club" series, The 90s Club & the Mystery at Lilac Inn is another deftly written and thoroughly entertaining read that will be especially appreciated by all dedicated mystery/suspense fans." – Midwest Book Review