If you aren’t with a dedicated writing group, find one, now. I know that comes across a bit harsh, but I can’t stress enough how important they can be, and are. When I started writing in 2011 — like putting some serious effort behind it — I relied on myself for the critique process. But I could tell that I wasn’t going to get any better without more eyes on it.
Over the past year and a half I can see how my writing has been honed by the great group of people that I meet with every other week. Everyone, no matter their point of view, has something to make you think about and consider.
I had just finished my recent short story and shuffled it off to them. I was pretty happy with it. I felt that the characters were strong and the combat was good. Come critique day I received confirmation on those feelings.
But it was everything else my tiny little eyes missed that they picked up on.
On how certain character motivations didn’t line up. Where actions that I thought were clear were actually very muddled. They gave solid ideas on what they felt was most important and what could probably be cut. It was exactly what I needed.
And because I meet with them in person, I’ve learned to trust their instincts. I know on a personal level their likes and dislikes. Where we all stand on certain tropes and genres. You can’t underestimate this side of the group. Because it is that personal touch that will inform you on where their feedback is coming from. Which, in turn, allows you to implement it in the best way possible.
Certainly, there will be comments and ideas that you have to filter through. Half of the table may love your ogre vampire who loves daisies. While the rest thinks it’s a travesty to mankind. In the end you will have to decide for yourself if that ogre is worth keeping. But at least now you have a better idea of where that character stands.
So I encourage, even implore you to get out there and find yourself a group. Check out meetup.com or other social media sites. And if you can’t find one, make your own. I’m certain there are other starved writers in your area looking for feedback.
Oh, and one final note. Make sure everyone writes or reads in a similar genre. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to critique Chick-Lit when all you read is SciFi/Fantasy 🙂