Day 10 in the Author Blog Challenge poses the question:
Have you participated in a critique groups? If so, how did it work out for you? If not, why have you avoided them to this point?
I haven't participated in a critique group per-say but I have had editing sessions with my friend and editor Crystal Lee. Since the prompt for talking about her is tomorrow, I will tell you about the end results. I will also speak of my beta readers here. They were critics too.
Crystal edited The Abigale Chronicles and did such a lovely job, I had to use her again for Yassa. I am trading my cover design work for her editing eagle-eye. It's a very fair trade.
My beta readers corrected my writing as I went along. Their suggestions helped me become better at not using short, choppy sentences as much and a better writer overall. A few suggestions I ignored because they were suggesting I change my writing style. Sorry, but I bend like that for no man or woman.
<rant>I have read too many books with overly descriptive paragraphs that turned me off to the story at hand. No one needs to know where every blade of freaking grass was or what the color of each is. Unless that grass is trying to eat the protagonist, assume it's green because you aren't gonna hear about it, okay? I am a to the point kind of gal
who doesn't appreciate that when I'm into how a character is feeling,
someone tells me what color the car is that the character is driving and
goes into a story about the wind whistling through the barely open windows. Tell me what the person sees and the reaction. Tell me what they feel. If the character is smushing his toes in the grass, then tell me how the grass is tickling his feet. Otherwise, please please leave it alone! </rant off>
My relationship with my beta readers was a good working relationship and I am comfortable with critique unless it tries to change my story or style. But I just reject the suggestion if it tickles my inner writer. Crystal simply pointed out my grammatical errors and made suggestions on how things should be reworded or areas that were fuzzy and could use some work. She was UH-MAZING. Beta readers got the story flowing, Crystal spit shined it for the masses.
I couldn't imagine having a better writing experience. BTW, Crystal and I met in the comments section on another blog. Ahhhhh, networking at its finest!! I have made some awesome virtual friends through weird places.
Now, how NOT to critique. Don't jump at someone and tell them their writing is shit. While I would laugh, many writers are emotionally attached to their work. Like artists, we weave worlds of our own. Our books are our babies. Instead, tell them you like the story but this or that could be changed. I am a very harsh editor and I know that. I warn people up front that I am blunt and to the point. To treat you with kid-gloves will not help you. But I am not mean. There is a difference. Asking questions to make you think about things you have written is the way I go about it (unless there is a glaring error that is repeated, then I point it out and stop marking it, assuming you will take it upon yourself to fix it).
That's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!