Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Countdown: 11: Critique Group

There came a point, after I had made my revisions and my husband had told me how much he disliked my book, that I needed to find a critique group.

I tried to gather up a few people from church, but nobody was interested in reading my book. Just, you know, having me read their book. (Okay, there were only two people.)

So I started looking online.

Believe it or not, you have the same problem online. Everyone wants to be read but nobody wants to read and review. I joined a writing group online that I was quite excited about. I made myself a regular member and read every new post that someone made. However, I quickly lost enthusiasm for two reasons: 1) I wasn't getting reviews in return 2) When I did, they were 1-2 liners of the first 1-2 chapters.

I ended up getting lots of feedback for the first two chapters. But what about the rest of the book???

That's when I found www.writing.com.

It can be a bit confusing at first. So many options. I just started reading every person I found, looking for something great. What I found was a novelist who had written such a great novel that I read the whole thing online in a few hours. (You can see her blog here.) And she led me to the Young Adult Novel Forum.

That writing group was the first to read my novel all the way through.

It was fantastic. I remember the first reviews I got, years ago now, where my fellow members cringed and held their breath to see how I'd take their critique of my novel. Then I remember the reviews I got a year ago, when the members said things like, "I forgot to critique this, I was so into the story." Radical difference. It changed immensely. I could not have done it without a critique group.

I learned so much from them. And I knew quite a bit before, grammatically (I majored in English), but not so much when it came to writing. They were the ones who taught me about head-hopping POVs and adverbs. About flashbacks and prologues and showing emotions instead of telling them.

And they are my friends. I love my critique group. I'm not as active as I was then, but I know they support me. They are a group of fantastic writers.

The best advice I have for an aspiring writer is to get a critique group. Not your friends, but honest writers who will give you their sincere feelings on your book.

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 183/183
actual: 183/185
tomorrow's goal: Finish!


Anonymous said...

The great thing is, that critique group has the potential to become friends...but they'll be the kind that won't sugarcoat about what needs to be improved on your work. =)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

exactly. they don't start out as friends, so they aren't worried about offending you. But b/c they are so blatantly honest, you learn you can trust them...and they become friends!

LMJ said...

I used to belong to writerscafe.org
I still due, but you had to really really bug people to critique you. That's when I used to write stories and stuff for fun. Now, I just blog.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I signed up for writers.com since you recommended it, but I freaked out about the putting your ms. online part.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Karen--you can set your ms to private so no one can see it unless they're in your critique group. That's what I've done.

Sara ♥ said...

That sounds really cool! I just recently joined a crit group with two writers I "met" on twitter & became e-mail buddies & it all led to where we are now. I know them well enough to know that they know their stuff when it comes to writing. AND I feel comfortable enough with them to give honest feedback. I can't wait til we start critiquing :)

Aaron and Emily said...

Well I would love to read your stuff, but you are right about the "critique your friend" part that I would probably not like. Although, I tend to be pretty critical when asked for it... Hey, I bet my sister would read All your stuff. She's the biggest read-aholic I ever met.

Ren Black said...

Critique groups are great. Friendships are highly possible and even if you loose track of each other, one of the great things about being writers is that it's a small world. You just might run into the person's name again as say a presenter at an upcoming conference and wonder, "hey I know her!"

Looks like you've been busy. Hope business is going well! Congrats on the new books and little one(s) since we've talked last. This is Ren, aka Renegade.

Tamara Heiner said...

Wow, Renegade! Long time no see! thanks for stopping by!

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