Monday, December 12, 2016

My Amazing Critique Partners

As a writer, I tend to live in my own private bubble. It’s a lovely bubble, where chocolate and coffee and tea flow freely, the people I create in my head are as close to perfect as I can get (even when they are completely imperfect with flaws), and there are no negative influences from the outside world.

But in order to make sure my books are readable (and sellable), at some point in the process, I have to step out of my bubble and show people what I’ve written.


That means letting people into the scary world that exists inside my head and hoping they come out unscathed.

Luckily for me, I’ve been fortunate enough to have several amazing critique partners along the way. And from what I understand, that’s not a normal thing.

My first critique partners, Jan and Paula, were absolutely amazing. They pointed out errors in timing, showed me where things didn’t make sense and most importantly, taught me that opening myself up to others and allowing them to read what I’ve written wasn’t nearly as horrible as I thought it would be. Beyond the benefits of being able to improve my writing, I learned that there is community to be found when sharing with other writers. I will forever be grateful to them.

My critique partner, Laurie, is a plotting genius. I tend to have a vision for one character—since I write romance, I need at least two, though. I usually have some idea of what psychological motivation the character has, but she helps me flesh out the rest of it, as well as external motivation as well. I’m geographically challenged, which apparently also carries over to writing, so I depend on her to help me get my characters from Point A to Point B, without getting lost in the weeds or forgetting about something I mentioned in chapter five. Usually a discussion over a strong cup of coffee or a thirty-minute phone conversation solves all my problems. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

Then there is my critique group. When I received a call from Miriam to join her, Lisa and Nancy as a member of her critique group, I looked at the phone, convinced she’d dialed the wrong number. These women are GOOD and I couldn’t figure out what I could possibly bring to the table. But all four of us have unique ways of looking at the same story and our critiques add dimension. Additionally, being part of a group that meets in person helps me develop a thick skin. Trust me, there is NOTHING more embarrassing than hearing parts of your sex scene read out loud and realizing they rhyme (if you can think of something more embarrassing, PLEASE tell me). Or worse, you’ve created a Gumby-like contortionist.

I still like living in my bubble and disappearing into my world that I create. But there’s nothing like writer friends who take our craft seriously, who lift each other up and who truly understand how crazy this whole process is.

Thank you to all!

1 comment:

  1. I could say something silly like 'what she said' and leave it at that. But that would not be me acknowledging how serendipitous it is to be part of a critique group that not only doesn't have a weak link, but has been, for me, the difference between being published and not. So, yes, Jen. I love my bubble, too. In fact, I'm getting ready to jump into it, right now. But I couldn't do so without raising my figurative glass with you and acknowledging our wonderful critique partners, Lisa and Nancy (and me acknowledging Dorothy, Lois, Kate, Maria, Anna, Leigh, Kathy, and Beth) and for me to turn around and raise it to you!

    And now, pardon me, while I jump back into my bubble!