Let’s try again.
Almost since I put pen to paper (I wrote my whole first novel on yellow pads) I have sought out people to read and comment on my work. Sometimes it is helpful and sometimes it isn’t.
I have been a member of three different critique groups where the member sat
around in a room and talked about each others offerings. The first group
actually taught me to write. I learned pretty quickly to keep my mouth shut and
listen. I would then go home and read over the comments, accept those I felt had merit and ignore the others. Thank you Doug.
My second group was extremely helpful but was not genre specific so some of the comments were a tad strange. A short story set in Rhode Island during the Civil War didn’t have enough battles for a war story. A clue artfully hidden in the early part of the story didn’t stand out enough for one reader. Well, that ‘s the point when you are writing a mystery. Thank you Joanne.
My current group is made up of experienced mystery writers.
All three groups were perfect for the level of writing I was doing when I was in
them, each expanded my understanding of writing, each was necessary.
Usually I can accept criticism for what it is. The person offering it is usually
sincere, and hoping to help me be a better writer, as am I in critiquing their
I had submitted the first chapters of the novel I was working on to a contest. I
would get back two critiques and if the work was good enough I would get a third and be in the running to win. I wasn’t expecting to win, but I was expecting to be moved to the next level. After all I had ten stories in print. I was shocked by the comments “telling not showing,” “beginning writer,” “stick with it, dear, you will get better.”
I don’t blame the critiquers for this, I blame the writing but darned if I could
figure out what to do about it. So I set the novel aside thinking some day when
I had more distance I could look at it with new eyes. I never did.
I didn’t stop writing or submitting but that particular work may as well have been sealed in a chest and tossed into the ocean.
One of the speakers at the conference may have sent me in the right direction. As the protagonist is looking out the window and sees a friend getting his horse
out she never tells the reader what she is feeling.
This may be the right or the wrong answer, but at least I can now go back and look.
The real moral of this story is don’t be afraid to seek criticism of your work. It
will make you a better writer. Even if it hurts.