Monday, October 15, 2012

It's Okay To Have Someone Critique Your Work

Since I began this new journey of social media I have been blessed with meeting some wonderful new friends. Most of them are writers such as myself, but they are great at giving me support. I am open to their suggestions and comments about my work because I want my book to be as perfect as I can get it. I have learned not to fall in love with a specific line or sentence I have written, less really is more when writing detail and description, and tighten your writing. 

It really is easy for me to tell if a writer who self-published has hired a professional editor because one of the giveaways is rambling on in description and POV shifts. If I am reading their book and I am skimming through, then there is too much description. And, if I am reading and all of a sudden I am in some other characters head, then they have head-hopped or jumped into another POV (point of view).

Not that I am a perfect editor, I just have learned through having critique partners and taking classes or workshops. I often wonder if these writers just wrote a book and published it without revisions or any advice for that matter. 

I have gone back through some of my earlier work, not only my rough draft, but also work from only a year ago and could see how far I have come. I have also realized how true it is that your family and friends will tell you how wonderful your book is when it really needs work. Once I decided to get a critique partner (now I have 5) I saw how you really can't edit your own work and your friends and family can't either. You need an objective person's eyes and ideas.

I realize that a lot of writers don't have the money to take classes or hire professional editors, but there are alternatives. You book is a major investment if you truly want to be an author. Believe me I am far from rich and I found ways to join groups and find affordable editing. Here are a few ideas that could help you, that is if you can admit you need advice and critique.

1. is a great way to find writing groups. My group cost 10.00 a class and we met twice a month. Most of the leaders of the group are professionals and will teach you the rules of creative writing and will critique your work. I did have to go through 2 different classes until I found one I felt I was learning from. But, that is one of the drawbacks of not joining a class at a college, and I excepted that.

2. Google online writing groups. There are workshops that you can join and they will help and support you.

3. Join a group that surrounds the genre you write. There are several national groups out there, such as Romance Writers Assn. RWA, and Sci-fi fantasy fiction groups, etcetera. 

4. Go to mini-conferences in your area. you don't have to be a member and can learn quite a lot from the workshops. They are also affordable. The one I am going to next week is 40.00 for non-members.

5. Join LinkedIn writing groups. You will meet a lot of writers, some who are beginners and some who have several novels published. They are full of ideas and are usually more than willing to help you.

I am sure there are other writers who can give you suggestions in this area too. I believe one of the biggest opportunities I received from doing these steps was getting to know and becoming friends with other writers. And, of course, critique partners.

The first step, however, is admitting that maybe you need critique. Maybe your books aren't selling because they need tightening and editing, or maybe you might decide to do this before you self-publish. 

I just believe that when I put my novel out there to the public, I don't want to get bad reviews based on my writing. If someone doesn't like the story, well that's one thing, you can't please them all. But, if my writing is holding back my book, that, to me, would be embarrassing. 

A few announcements: This Thursday I have a new guest writer. His name is Seth and I met him through LinkedIn. He impressed me when I went to his blog and read the story about himself. He seemed to have a lot of energy and a positive outlook about his writing future. I hope all of you welcome him and leave him some comments of questions. I will also be having other guests in the future, one of which is a long time author.

Until Thursday, I hope all of you have a great week! Lisa


  1. Hi Lisa, I had trouble posting before so hopefully this time it goes through. I particularly enjoyed this blog and agree with everything you said. I have been fortunate enough to get in contact with several writers and have utilized many of their suggestions and changes. However baring that in mind, two things are brought to my attention, the first being genre. If an author writes outside your particular genre they may not be familiar with your fan base and writing style; therefore their opinions and yes they are opinions should be moderated, unless of course they are a professional editor. The second of course is staying true to yourself as a writer, and what you believe in. If the criticism is constructive and helps the story to read smoothly then it is welcome; if it varies so far from your original storyline then you need to question the changes. Also if a true edit is called for then another writer needs to actually read the book or at least a few chapters and not give negative comments based upon one or two paragraphs. I am in favor of all your suggestions and have recently joined Meetup and am always looking to expand my craft. While my ideas are only my opinion, I am also looking to better myself as a writer and gladly welcome constructive criticism. I am looking forward to your guest Blogger and hopefully speaking with you further on this matter. Michele

    1. Thanks Michele, and I agree. Although it is true that different genres require a few things being different, but with that said, when it comes to grammar, punctuation, and POV shifts, it's the same. Of course they are opinions and I don't change everything my critique partners say, it at least gives me a different way of looking at the particular sentence or paragraph and usually it helps me to tighten or change wording in those areas. When it comes to description, a lot of times it is very different in a Fantasy genre, but you do still have to watch your blocking and make sure you aren't beating the readers over the head with redundancy. I am glad to hear you are looking at your writing as a continued learning experience. I think that is important and it helps you to constantly becoming a better writer with each story you tell, I am also looking forward to talking to you more on this subject and others. Thanks for your support!

  2. Hey Lisa, I had trouble posting a comment earlier as well, so here goes again.

    People who are afraid of critique should probably not be writing. Either that, or get over the idea that others are going to put you down. Good, honest, constructive critique can build a strong story and encourage the development of a thick skin, which the writer will need for the readers, who do give feedback, agents, and publishers.

    I worried at first about my critique partners becoming friends, thinking that the true critique would be lost. However, that hasn't happened. We've become friends, we're in it for the same reasons, we want to support each other, and we've developed that 'love ya, but...' ethic when it comes to commenting on each other's work.

    With that said, Lisa, I love ya, but in suggestion #3 above, you need to correct the last word. It should be etcetera, unless you meant there has been some kind of excretion???



  3. That is so funny Robin, coz that is the way I spelled it before and my computer spell check said 'wrong' and gave me that spelling lol! Anyway, I will fix it, but you are correct, we have become friends but we care about each other's books and we know we can't edit ourselves so we correct each other. That's what it's all about!

  4. Because our critique group has been together for many years, we give each other honest advice with a view to readying our work for submission. After 20+ years, I've developed fair skills at writing and editing. I'm happy to share my limited expertise with other writers.

    1. Thanks for your comment Teresa and that's wonderful that you help other writers. There are those that need a lot of help, like me! I also love your blog, keep up the good work!

  5. Excellent interview, Lisa, and it looks like a terrific book, Seth. Looking forward to reading more!