On Tuesday night I took a struggling little seedling of a manuscript to my critique group and prayed for mercy. This manuscript was written fast (in 2 1/2 days) and then I was ill for quite a while so I didn’t get back to it right away. That meant that much of the emotional connection I’d originally felt for the characters and their struggles had gone out. Well, it showed. By the time I got through the first revision I was left with an unlikeable MC, a weak secondary conflict and a whole lotta telling, not showing.
But I have these two great critique partners, Julie Bellon and Jordan McCollum (they’ve both also blogged about our group so check out those links). I knew that if anyone could help me, they could. It took several hours but we got through all of their notes, with more in writing that I’m still going through, and I feel a renewed sense of purpose in this project. I remember what it was I wanted my readers to think and feel and I have the ideas and tools in place to help that come to pass.
This is the value of a great critique group! I think it’s a must-have tool for any successful author. Having readers who aren’t writers is a valuable way to find problems, but having talented critique partners is one of the best ways (in my opinion) to find solutions.
Jordan, Julie and I met a year ago at a pitiful seminar. All three of us were frustrated with the time we’d wasted being there but then we met (again, for some of us) and got to talking and we decided to try working together. Now, a year later, our group has gone through several different models from a few chapters each per meeting to workshopping entire novels for each one of us. Now we have come to a great place where we are able to burn through one project at a time, doing line edits on our own and then coming together twice a month to hash out those pesky plot holes and weak characters, etc. We brainstorm together and I find that we all have different strengths and weaknesses, so we fill in each other’s gaps nicely.
I have learned so much from both of these talented ladies and I urge all other authors out there to keep working on finding that group that can help you improve. It took me three failed groups before finding this one but I