And yes, there will be issues with the brilliant story you've woven. There are no perfect writers, and even the best of the best need some tweaking here and there.
Now is the time you need to find these critique-ers, or critters, as I like to call them. You can ask a writer friend, like I did with fellow Alley Cat, Pepper. (And she is brilliant, btw, adding description and depth where I am lacking.) Or you can join a large critique pool like the one offered by ACFW. I recently joined and am starting to get some pretty good feedback. You critique two submissions (no larger than 2500 words) for every one that you submit. A good thing about a pool is that sometimes smaller groups form naturally, which can be very beneficial.
Once you have received a chapter to critique, what do you do? There are two ways to format your critiques.
- If you are using Word, use the Review Track Changes. This allows you to add (periods, commas, words, etc.) and delete (unnecessary phrases, punctuation, etc.) easily, while allowing the author to Accept or Reject those changes with a click of the mouse.
- You can type directly into the document, using a different color font, making your comments and suggesting within.
Tips for Critiquing:
- Let the author know what you liked about their work. There is always good in every story and the author needs to hear what works.
- Look at the story as a reader. What worked? What didn't? Did you like the characters? Is the plot believable? Did you want to keep reading?
- Let the author know things that need to be fixed. Punctuation, grammar mistakes, passive verbs, cliches, too many pronouns, repetitive words, unnecessary words or phrases, telling instead of showing, etc.
- When you are alerting the author to what is wrong, give examples of how it could be fixed. Show an active sentence instead of a passive one. Let the author see how to 'show' instead of 'tell'. Give examples, so that the author understands what really needs to happen.
- Never put down the author. It takes a lot of courage to write and then let others read their work, so be gentle. You may not like the story or the genre, but you can critique the story without degrading the author.
- Critique like you want to be critiqued. The Golden Rule of Critique-land. 'Nuff said.
Critiquing is all about the give and take of fellow writers, working to make their story better, and helping others to do the same. It's about generosity. It's about growing into maturity as a writer. It's about grace.
Let's be gracious writers. Let's build up one another in love, for we know what goes around, comes around.