The Beauty in Critique

I’ve recently been reading through a self-published novel by a supremely awesome person I met on Twitter. She gave me a free copy of her novel to do a review for her and I’ve been cruising through while juggling NaNoWriMo prep, setting up a writing area, working crazy hours, keeping my house up, trying to get through the crap in our basement and, in general, find time to spend time with my family around everything else I’m doing. I’ve found the novel engaging and I find the gem of a great story therein, but I can’t help but think about all the advice I’ve read about self-publishing and not rushing. Now before I go too much further on this ramble, please understand I am not saying this novel is bad. I am not trashing the author because I really am enjoying her book. I just think she could have used a strong critique and someone to wrangle her plot, commas and repetitive sentences before she published.

Editors are expensive. Really expensive when you’re broke and publishing. Unless you know someone who works for peanuts or pad thai, affording that necessary kick in the pants is difficult. Sometimes, when we write better than our peers, it’s difficult to find someone who will give us honest feedback on our novel. Friends and family know it’s our baby and they sugar coat and pat our hands, telling us it’s better than it is.
With my own writing as an example, my friends aren’t really good at the “OMG WTF is this CRAP?” Well… some of them. I needed someone to sit down, point it out and tell me why.

I posted my first crit piece for my crit group. I went in with a sense of trepidation. Some of the critters told me flat out when they introduced themselves they crit hard and pulled no punches. It took me a week to go over the prologue I was relatively happy with and finally post it for review. I knew they were going to find errors. I had no doubt. What I got was something different than I expected.

No one told me it sucked. Everyone was, while firm, not mean about it. I was worried some of them were going to make me cry. Not a single tear. I went in, read over their edits and nodded along with most of it. A couple of them apologized ahead of time and one member who hadn’t reviewed my work sent a private message and gave me a pat on the shoulder.

Surprisingly, I didn’t need it. I joined a crit group, I put my work out there and they were critical. That’s what a crit group is for. I expected much worse. They could turn up the intensity and I would still be okay. They might have been gentle since I’m the new kid, but I was pleased. Someone critted for me AND it was helpful without any “OMG STOP WRITING NOW”.

I think I know why I haven’t been published before now. I needed a group of people to go “Okay, honey. Really. No. I know this is your baby, but no.” Maybe now when I post my stories to different publishers they won’t toss it out without reading more than the first three lines. With a little self-editing, I’ve got a shot.

I would honestly love to see the above mentioned author join my group. She’s super awesome and I really think she could add to the group. Now I just need to figure out how to suggest it without being a jerk.

About Carrie Fulk Vaughn

Carrie Fulk Vaughn (C.V. Madison) is a licensed massage therapist, author of LGBTQIA, Urban fantasy, horror & romance. Gamer geek full of Mountain Dew and schadenfreude pie. Twitter addict. Ball jointed doll collector.

Posted on October 21, 2012, in For Writers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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