Thursday, February 17, 2011

Are Critique Groups Necessary?


Yay! I joined a newly formed YA critique group for my first ever YA novel. I completed the draft last year, did some revising, put it away for a few months, and now I'm going to get some superb feedback from writers who write for that age. (I will work hard to do the same for them)

Another writer I know has belonged to one critique group that met in person and a second one online. She was so disappointed by the critiques in both groups that she has sworn off of them. She doesn't understand why I'm so thrilled.

"They aren't necessary!" she said, proceeding to tell me why it was not a good idea.

Yes, there are writers who have been very successful going it alone. Maybe I would have been, eventually, but I don't think so. I'm not that successful now, but what little success I've had I give to the groups that I belonged to in the past.

I explained to her that I have been blessed by belonging to other groups. These groups were for MG and younger and had a wide variety of skill/experience levels in the membership. Being a newbie can be lonely when looking for a group, so I was grateful to the first group that accepted a newbie like me!

 The importance of the things I learned from that first group was immeasureable. The second one was even better! I left both groups when life became too hectic and I couldn't give to them what I felt they deserved.

 I told her that having other people give me honest critiques improved my work tremendously and she should try again. Sometimes it is just not a good fit.

 "No," she said, shaking her head. "Never again."

The irony in all this? She has sent me a few things for my opinion. I give it. I send her things. We avoid the word critique.

 Some writers can go it alone, I can't. I need the pushing, the brutal honesty, the suggestions for improvement, the commiseration, the cheers, and even the constructive disagreements when two writers see a work differently. I need what members in a critique group can offer.

So do I think critique groups are necessary? For me, a definite YES!

What about you?

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Writer is Like a Hawk Because...

This hawk sat patiently the other day and let me take several pictures of him. I walked all around and under the tree and he never moved or showed the slightest concern. I came to the conclusion later that he was probably hoping I would go away and not lose him his breakfast. He needed to concentrate on the prey that attracted him to that vantage point in the first place.
I went inside and sipped coffee while I watched him from the window. He stayed very still.  About ten minutes later he took off and  swooped down into the drainage ditch and out of my view.  I don't know if he caught what he was after, but each of the yards are fenced, some with privacy fencing. Most have dogs in the yards. I think he spotted something and waited for it to come out of a fenced yard where he could snatch it up without risking interference.

Being a writer who is always waiting for a favorable end result, I thought about that hawk today as I trooped, rather than swooped, out to the mailbox. Fingers crossed, hoping for good news I opened the box. Nothing. It's been four months, they said it would take four months minimum, but they also said if you don't hear anything in six months to resubmit with another SASE because it probably just got lost.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Entry in the First Line Blogfest

I like Faye Nelson, I really and truly do, we’ve been best friends since kindergarten, but, well, it’s hard ignoring that jealous knot in my chest every time I see her.
  

Name: Catherine A. Winn
Title: The Secret in the Cellar
Genre: MG mystery/thriller


This is my entry in the the dark and stormy night blogfest contest. Posted here for critiques from other entrants, then it will be posted again in the comments section of the contest by February 9 for Weronika to judge. Good luck, everyone!

UPDATE:

After receiving some excellent feed back, I have shortened and tightened up the sentence. The final version is now posted on the contest site. Thank you, all, for your comments and suggestions!