Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Burning Question

Do you have people other than your agent/editor read and offer advice about your writing? If so, at what point are you/your story open for critiquing? What do you think of critique groups?


Betina Krahn said...

I've never had a critique group. But I've always used a critique "sister." And occasionally a critique husband or a critique fiance.

That is, until now. Now my sister and a wonderful new writer named Cheryl Wilson and I meet every other week to share chapters and discuss and critique. It's still a developing process, but I find I do appreciate the input on my stories and it is often interesting to see that what one person finds problematic, the other finds "no problemo" or even fun. I get different perspectives. Since I've mostly done this with proposals thus far, it's been very helpful. Once I sell the book I'm working on, I'll probably defer to the editor for advice.

Anybody else have to work out a balance between crit partner/group and editor comments? How did it go?

:) Betina

anne frasier said...

my editor is always the first to see my manuscript.

otherwise i find myself trying to subconsciously please too many people. every little comment, even if i disagree, gets filed in my brain and brings about changes that impact the book. i try to keep that first big writing stage pure so i can remain locked on my original theme and vision. just gets too diluted otherwise.

Helen Brenna said...

I belong to a six member critique group. We all write some verion of romance. I give them my stuff right away at the beginning of my books because I need a solid foundation to launch myself from. But there are members in our group who wait some time before letting our group read their material. The comments seem to affect their ability to continue writing the story, so I can understand how some writers don't like anyone reading their books until they've finished them.

I've also read aloud one of my books in its entirety, at several different sittings, to a writer friend. The sore throat was worth the improvements to pacing and dialogue.

I love critiques and find the feedback tremendously helpful. I've never felt that it made my writing generic, like some people suggest, but there have been a couple instances where my editor wanted me to change/delete something that my critique group specifically thought I needed in the book.

My agent also likes to read all my stuff before sending it on and has suggested revisions on several occasions. Some of them, I've chosen not to do, but there have been several that I think have greatly improved the marketability of the story.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Hey guys! I've been AWOL for the last couple of days because every time I checked in I was seeing a post from last week. Is that a result of bookmarking???

Funny you should ask about critiquing, oh burning question mark, because I am about to dash off to teach my last Loft class for this term, and that's the topic. We talk about do's and don't, how to be helpful and "own" the feedback you offer, and we do a bit of group critiquing. Even funnier thing is, I've never belonged to a critique group myself and don't foresee joining one. Too insecure, maybe.

My husband was my first reader for a long time, and I found his feedback to be very useful after I finished lambasting him for being insensitive and ignorant of the demands of women's fiction. I can't imagine why he's declined to read for me lately, but I really miss the feedback. Since he's the only one I really trust, I'm considering the usual wifely bribe in return for his valuable services.

Helen Brenna said...

Something's up with blogger, Kathy. When I just pulled up our site, it said 0 comments, but I knew I had already posted. I hit refresh and 4 comments showed up.

Also, I remember pulling up Michelle Buonfiglio's blog a couple times last week or the week before and it kept showing a blog from 11/3. Wierd.

anne frasier said...

when i use firefox, i ALWAYS have to hit refresh -- otherwise i don't see the most recent posts. so it seems there's a different glitch for every browser. i started noticing the firefox about two months ago. i've noticed a lag in blog comments on my blog because of it (i suspect). i'm thinking of creating a post just about the problem so people will know it's happening.

anne frasier said...

edit: the firefox problem

Michele said...

I belong to a 4-member crit group, but we haven't actually critiqued stuff for years. I used to like being able to send something I wasn't so sure about to them and getting comments back, but we've all been so busy of late, there's just no time for it.

So my editor is usually the first reader. But, for FROM THE DARK, which comes out next week, I was so unsure about it, that I had to find someone to read it for me. So, I sent it to my daughter. (She's 22, and has only read one of my books. She's not a big reader.) Anyway, she called me and said "Mom, this is porn!"

It does have a few more sex scenes than I normally have in my stories, but far from porn. I could never write something really graphic. But I had to laugh, because of course if my daughter hasn't read a lot, a few sex scenes would have freaked her. And you know, I was sort of glad it *did* freak her. It would have been too strange for her to call up and say 'oh, yeah, been there, done that.'

Jaye Wells said...

I have a four-person critique group. They're all published and i'm not so their advice has really helped shorten my learning curve. The only draw back I experience is resisting the "pleasing the group" mentality. But overall I feel lucky to have a group for advice and critique. I do look forward to having an agent and editor for guidance, though.

anne frasier said...

michele, that is hilarious!!! now i HAVE to get the book.

ca-ching! sale!

my agent doesn't critique, at least not the i know of. i send him stuff; he sends it out. most of the time that works pretty well for me. i can't imagine sending something to him first, then getting it back a month later, then reworking it. i simply wouldn't have time for that. it's all i can do to get the ms to my editor by my deadline.

once i'm under contract, my agent really steps back. a lot/most of the time he doesn't even know what i'm working on unless i run into a problem.