Critiques! Should I be completely honest?

images-2I’m a member of Scribophile. If you don’t know what that is, and you are really interested in writing and getting feedback, Scribophile is the place to be. It’s like Facebook for writers. You do critiques and in turn others critique your work. I wish I had found it years ago. You get some so so critiques, but you also get a lot of good ones from people who know what they are doing. At any rate this blog wasn’t suppose to be an infomercial for Scribophile.

I did a critique yesterday, and I felt awful when I was done.  The young lady who wrote it obviously had writing skills. Her descriptives, imagery, and grammar were better than mine. She could string a perfect sentence together, but that seemed to be were it ended. I read her premise which was a good one, but way overused.

The entire segment of 2600 words which followed another segment of the same length covered her main character’s flight on a plane to Italy. Now if the story was taking place in that plane or for some reason all of the characters in that plane and what they did was important, I wouldn’t be writing this particular blog. But they are not, the plane is just getting her to Italy so she can find the love of her life. Again it was very well written, and I could picture myself and all of those different people on the plane.

I am what I call a skipper, I have no problem skipping over complete paragraphs of exposition to get to the good stuff. I would have skipped most of what she had written, even though it was written beautifully. I didn’t for the sake of the critique.

While I tried to be nice in my summary and point out all of the things great about her work, I felt as if I wouldn’t be doing her justice by letting it end at that. So I told her what I would want someone to tell me.

Your writing is great but the pace is nonexistent. I feel like I’m stuck on that plane and want to get off. You’re providing too much detail and putting a lot of time and energy into characters that we will never see again. You are giving great back story, but it’s too much at once. You do not need to give us a step by step account of everything that happens from the minute she gets on the plane to the minute she gets off.

I will continue to be honest with writers about their work in what I hope is a constructive manner. I don’t want to discourage anybody, but I want ignore major flaws to avoid hurt feelings either.

What do you think?  Would you want someone to tell you everything is great in your novel when it’s not, or would you want the truth, even if it hurt?

-Jan R

 

Critiques! Should I be completely honest?

How Do You Join Writing Groups?

images-2It’s really easy. Really. Once you’ve identified one just go to the site and register and you are in. Most are free with the option of upgrading and paying a small fee for additional support. I thought about joining an online critique group for years but kept putting it off.

This past week I took the plunge and joined Scribophile. I have only been a member for a few days but am already connecting with and talking to other aspiring authors. Scribophile offers critiques on your work also but you have to earn a spot by doing critiques for other members and accumulating points. Once you’ve accumulated enough, you can trade them in for the opportunity to post your work.

I enjoy doing the critiques.  I have to admit I was a little intimidated at first. Who am I to read other people’s work and tell them what’s wrong. But after the first one I realized I could help  and hone my own skills by exercising what I’ve already learned.

I’ve seen great work and I’ve seen work that was obviously written by newbies. There will probably be people on the site (whichever one you choose to use)that are further along on the journey than you but there will also be a lot of people who are new and need your help.

My only regret is that I didn’t join a group earlier in my writing career. I can now see the benefit and help you get from being a part of a community of writers who want to help and welcome you with open arms.

While I’m trying out Scribophile, there are other critique sites out there.  Wattpad and Critique Circle are others I may look into. If you want to find a group closer to home, try meetup.com.

You will find one that works for you and the sooner the better.

-Jan R

How Do You Join Writing Groups?