One of the biggest challenges facing writers is finding trusted friends to read your work in progress.
Family may be too close to you as a person to give objective feedback about what works and what could improve. Yet asking complete strangers might be even worse. Can you trust them to give constructive criticism? Can you trust them not to breach your confidence? Another issue is whether to employ writers or readers. Do you want other experts to pick apart your story, or would you prefer the opinion of the book buying public?
It’s probably best to get a mix of opinions on how to improve your work, although asking too many people will lead to conflicting advice. Here are some places to find writing partners:
This is perhaps the most traditional way to encounter writing buddies. Over time, you’ll get to know other member of the circle and may choose to critique each other’s work. Another option is to do a reading of a particular chapter or piece that you need help or opinions on.
Entering a tit-for-tat critiquing relationship will undoubtedly help your writing. You’ll get to read different types of work in process and see up close how other writers put their words together. Another skill you’ll learn is how to analyse story and prose, and give constructive criticism to the other party. This in turn will help you edit your own work more.
I’ve found websites such as Critique Circle a great help. There, you’ll have access to plenty of other writers who want to exchange critiques. Even though many of the users on the site are relative beginners, your work will receive a variety of opinions and views. At the very least, it will be proof read.
Learning how to act on comments and critiques is another skill to develop. It’s all too easy to have a knee-jerk reaction to unfavourable reviews or to quick fixes. I do my best to remember that if more than one reader advises the same thing, it’s probably a trend an is best to change. Try to sleep on the comments and consider them at a later date. As with everything in fiction, stories need time to breathe and develop at their own pace. Having other pieces to work on is an important way to distance yourself from your work. After all, this is why authors need other opinions.
A mixed approach
I have a couple of trusted advisers on my works of fiction. One is a writer I met in real life, one is a friend (a non writer) and the other is a member of my online writing circle. I can go to them for different advice and know that they’ll spend time giving my work consideration and time. I do the same for them, to repay the favour. I’m sure I will find even more fruitful relationships from people among different groups along my writing journey.
Another option for critiques is to go the professional route. If you are a writer who would like a written critique on your short story, then get in touch. I offer feedback on stories at the very reasonable rate of $15 for up to 5,000 words. In my feedback, I’ll share what works and what doesn’t, and offer detailed suggestions for developmental edits.
To purchase the service, simply click the button to pay, then forward your story along with your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will complete my critique and reply within seven days.
Finally, I have some new pieces being published this month. Read about 1990s Magaluf in the story ‘Townies‘ (New Pop Lit), A boy preacher in Youth Imagination’s ‘The Church of Rainbow’, and the upcoming short ‘The Anatomy of a Hurdy-Gurdy’ in Flashback Fiction.