The critique process for any writer is never easy, especially if you are serious about improving your writing. And I also believe a good critique partner should be your biggest fan and your worst critic. Let’s face it, how much better are you going to get as a writer if you receive a few grammar marks and a chat room smiley face at the end of a chapter? Not much.
I break it down into two processes, the creative and the craft. The creative part can’t be learned at any workshop or writing clinic. It just can’t. If any one says it can, they probably have an online workshop they’d like to sell you on the subject. I will dare to go even farther. I think how a writer is able to solve craft issues is helped by a healthy imagination and stubborn, dive-in and fix it attitude. Frankly, I see a lot writers who whine and are lazy about rewrites. Nobody likes to do it. But there are those of us who are serious about becoming really good and there are those who are not.
Whether you have a “crit partner” or a number of “critters” reading your WIP, not all of them are going to be good at everything, which is why I recommend both a crit partner who knows your work, who gets you and understands your story/characters, and a critique group (writers who trade critiques back and forth).
Besides the obvious, the side benefits of working through lots of critiques are also interesting. Eventually, it toughens you up, makes you more confident and gets you ready for the submissions process. You will also learn to recognize criticism that is purely subjective/opinion (something you may or may not wish to change or correct).
One of the ladies in my critique group recently shared this check list of things you might want to look for (or ask for) when doing a critique:
* Backstory: Is there too much in the first 50 pages? * Do the characters seem real? * Clichés: Do you spot any clichés? * Is the story believable? Does it compel you to read further? * Are there too many passive verbs such as: was, were, etc. * Are there too many repetitive phrases or words? * Is there enough sensory? Taste––Touch––Smell––Sound? * Does the description of a scene draw you in? * Openings: Does the opening hook you? * POV: Is the writer staying within the proper POV?* DEEP POV: Show more, tell less * RUE-Resist the urge to explain * Character’s Voice. Plot. Pacing.
Remember, red is good––once you get used to it. And one day you might even look forward to a page full of red marks. Really.
There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.
Jillian is currently finishing the second book in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com
G. Jillian Stone