Tonight, I'm hosting a workshop on Writer's Oasis. The topic will be: Critique Partners, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Most of it will be taken from my blog (see below)
As most of you writers already know, you can have the crit partner from heaven or the crit partner from hell. You can have some that know grammar and will probably stick to that or a partner that can see the details and know where you need to show more of the action, description, format errors, responses and other things I can't even think of right now.
Those two are invaluable. You might not find them in one partner. If you do, they're gold. If you can find one of the two, they're silver. Use them.
Then, there are the bad. They mean well. They try. They may flood you with their own errors and you have to be careful to know which are correct and which are not.
I always worry about falling into that category. Am I helping or hurting my partner, his/her voice or style? Am I giving the wrong advice? Am I putting in words
they wouldn't use? It doesn't mean that partner (or me as an example) is useless. It means you have to decide what advice is good for your story and what is not.
The worst are those partners that are the ugly ones. Those writers have an ax to grind against: certain people they don't like (personal), certain books or genres they don't like, those trying to get rid of the competition and those that just have a grudge against the world in general. They are the ones who will pick you to death until you want to scream "uncle" and not write another word for six months. They do come along. And no, I don't remember who they are, nor any of the books they've written. Perhaps they never got published. I won't be unkind and say I hope not. Most advanced writers can tell right away and politely ditch them. Some beginning writers think their writing sucks, they have no potential and want to give up. That's nasty and dispicable. (in my opinion)
It's sometimes hard to distinguish, unless you know better. The novice with no concept of grammar or feel for story line might need someone to tell them, "get yourself to a good grammar book or grammar class and learn your craft." That may sound cruel, but it is merely tough love. I've needed it. So, have some I've critiqued. So are they the ugly crit partners? No. They are probably the good ones. The ugly ones I'm talking about are the ones that put a downer on everything you do. Your story sucks, your charactrs suck, your grammar sucks, you suck, your family and dogs suck. You get my meaning. Believe it or not, there are always somethings that are right with a story, if nothing more than the germ of a good yarn. Wow, this story has potential. I like where _______________________ etc. Then you can go into the grammar errors that you notice and their simplified style. He went to the store. He met Lucille. She said "hell." that's where you need to offer a few suggetions. Hmmm. LIke read a lot more books. Take a workshop or class. But do it tactfully and in such a way that the writer believes he has enough potential to warrant taking such a class.
I've been affiliated with good critique groups. Those that have many writers working on the WIP (work in progress) The best one I found was the RWC Critique group for romance writers. I found some excellent resources in that group. You have to critique two others before they will critique you. So, you have to spend some time with them. "Critting" can be an excellent way to learn, as much, as being critiqued. Romance Writers Community is a group I'd recommend for romance writers. AS I write in that genre, I fit in the mold. There are other groups, many in fact, that are excellent across the genres. You have to look them up and look at the stories to know if you'd fit.
Today, I go exercise at the Community Center, then on to the barn to take care of Smokey. Then home to work on another chapter in "Legacy." I'm onto the chapter that gets dicey because that was the beginning of the "meddlesome middle" where I got lost. Now, I have to get found. My next chore is last minute preparations for the workshop. I might just use some of what I said here.
Take care and happy writing.