How do I know? I’ve been on the receiving end of both.
I belonged to a wonderful group of five writers who met weekly for coffee and to exchange pages. The minimum was ten, but more could be added if someone had a good week. We always went forward. The chapters that were critiqued might be read as a whole when the manuscript was done. It kept us inspired. We did get published. Then I had to move to another state. Working on-line didn’t happen.
The destructive critique came from a writing teacher. She checked my weekly offerings and then told me that I had no talent and should write for my own benefit. Cruel? Sure, but I’ve learned many people can be cruel. It took me years to recover from that blow.
I’ve been without a critique partner. I think that after awhile I felt like I didn’t need one. I have books published, my editors like my work, and I’m comfortable with what I do.
That last was the signal to me that I needed something. I looked at my latest mss and wasn’t satisfied anymore. I wanted to ask a friend to read it, but I realized I wanted more than a single view. Friends say they like it. Family always loves it. Friends don’t want to hurt your feelings. I need a critique.
This week I took the time from writing to attend a Romance Writers of America on-line class on how to critique and how to find a good critique partner. (Classes like this are a major benefit of belonging to RWA.) I happened to see a few people from RWA who were also searching. I contacted them and the experiment is in progress.
My first mistake according to the class is I wasn’t clear what I wanted from them and what I could offer in return. This is not a one-way street. If you don’t feel like an equal partner, the effort won’t last over time. I’m not talking about the excited, “Can you please look this love? I got a call from an editor.” I’m talking about the work that comes back with so much to change its not your any more or the consistent ‘there’s nothing to fix.”
Plan to exchange pages on a regular basis.
Oh my, the speaker gave a great list of things to think about requesting. I’m not
I should add I was the Kiss of Death Chapter's original critique co-ordinator. I've judged contests both sate and national for 20 years. I've done classes on critiquing. I should know all this, but like everyone else, I forget.
I joined a Facebook group that is forming named Authors Critique Group.
I’m not sure if the people I’m with will work out. I hope so. It can be discouraging and time-consuming, but I’m looking for the gold ring at the end of the ride.
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