Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Bible: The Starting Point for a Good Critiquer

So, yeah, I know what you’re asking. What could the Bible possibly have to do with critiquing fiction? This past Saturday, I realized there’s a nugget of wisdom in the Bible that is absolutely golden for a writer who has made the choice to partner up with another to critique.

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? - Matthew 7:3

Yeah. Good ol’ Matthew.

You see, on Saturday, I discovered I had a log the size of a redwood in my eye.

I participated in an all-day workshop on critiquing with my local Romance Writers of America chapter, led by fellow ARWA member Emily McKay. Originally, for me, it was more about making new friends (don’t I sound like a seventh-grader who’s just moved to a new school?) than the actual critique. I sent in ten pages of an old manuscript that’s been sitting on my computer for a while, but that I would love to sell one day. I knew it needed some tweaking, but I didn’t think there were major issues.

Well, guess what? Little Miss Love-To-Catch-Info-Dumps had an info dump the size of a landfill a few pages into my story. It was eye-opening, to say the least. And it reminded me how awesome it can be to work with other writers who know what to look for in a clean, crisp manuscript.

I know there are many great writers out there who have never, and probably will never, join a critique group. I also know that some people have found themselves in horrible critique groups. You have my sympathy, but I cannot empathize, because I was lucky enough to find a fabulous critique group early on in my writing career. It includes Shauna Roberts, The Ninth Muse, and two other tremendous writers and I am forever grateful to them and for them.

I know I have some writers out there who read the blog. What’s your experience? Or do you have advice on how to be a good critiquer or accept a critique?