Join a Critique Group
After I finished several chapters in my novel, I wanted to get some feedback. I thought my work was good; but I knew it could be improved. So I circulated portions to a small group of friends, asking for feedback. They all raved, told me my stuff was great, and begged for more.
Did I mention, I have great friends?
Later, I’d find typos, sentences with missing words, and other obvious errors. No one even mentioned them! So, while my friends boosted my ego, they didn’t help me improve my work.
When I mentioned this phenomenon to by brother, he recommended I join a critique group.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Writers share their work with other writers, who review and critique it. Some critique groups meet face-to-face. Other groups share their work via the ‘net, but never meet.”
I immediately googled critique groups in Indianapolis, my home town. Sure enough, there was one that met on Saturday mornings at the downtown library. I signed up to attend their next session.
At the meeting, I met a half-dozen experienced writers who were all way smarter than me. They openly welcomed me. I liked the way they operated, especially the open and honest manner they offered and received criticism. On the first week, they offered to let me submit a piece for critique at the next session.
All week, I anxiously looked forward to our Saturday session. I was finally going to get some serious feedback!
I hoped to get honest feedback. I craved brutally honest feedback. Even so, I wasn’t prepared. My fellow authors each gave their advise politely; but they didn’t pull any punches.
When my turn in the barrel ended, I smiled and thanked everyone, wearing my best game face. But inside, I felt like a boxer, weak-kneed and tipsy, dazed by a flurry of blows, staggering back my corner at the bell, hoping no one could see how seriously I’d been injured.
The experience humbled me. It was exactly what I needed – and much more.
Over the months, not only have I gotten great feedback, but I’ve found friends who share common interests and goals. People who care about me and are working to help me succeed. People to whom I’ve grown attached. I’m in their debt, which I’m trying to repay by helping them.
My brother gave me the best writing tip I’ve ever received. Thank you, Bill!
If you belong to a critique group, tell us about it. If you like, provide a link to the group’s website.
Here’s a link to my team’s website: The Indianapolis Writers Meetup Group