A Critter Has Fresh Eyes

South of Tucson where we are presently parked, the pollen count is at a record early high.  Fortunately, I’m only allergic to rabbit brush, or chamisa, and there’s not much of that growing around here.  I love rising to the sound of doves, cactus wrens and finches, and knowing the sun’s going to shine a nice, warm 75 to 80-something degrees.

Today I was once again reminded of how important it is to have someone critique my work.

No matter how many times you edit your own writing, no matter how well you know grammar, and no matter that you may be a whiz at sentence structure  (this one’s getting a little out-of-hand), you are going to miss something.  You won’t see it because you are “inside the box.”  You need the fresh eyes of an experienced reader.  Preferably one who knows how to write well.  But even one who doesn’t write can give good feedback on a reader’s impressions, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

I recently downloaded three free ebooks and one for $3.99 (we poor consumers don’t realize this means $4.00) from Amazon, and all were four-star rated by readers.  My goodness–all three were interesting and showed promise, but all three were full of grammatical mistakes and poor sentence structure–problems which should never get by a decent critique.  Problems which would never get past an agent or an editor.

These days, with so many helpful critique sites on the web, and most of them free, there is no excuse for poorly-edited manuscripts.  I suggest every writer join one of these sites, or two or three, until you find the right fit.  I find that Critique Circle works best for me, and I don’t know what I would do without those marvelous “critters.”

The Need for Constructive “Critters”

Best intentions.  Good bloggers blog at least once a week, twice is even better.

Yes, I realize I am not one of those.  I will try harder, but guarantee nothing.

I keep discovering interesting new sites and getting sidetracked by them, and am often too lazy to get back to my blog.  One of those sites is so good I had to join it – Critique Circle.  Let’s back up a little.

I started writing fanfiction on LiveJournal years ago, and it was nice to have a “built-in” fan base, even nicer when those fans commented on how much they loved my little stories.  It can be difficult to write in a vacuum, which has always been what writers do, as writing is best done all by one’s lonesome.  On the other hand, once you decide you are serious about what you write and want to improve, “I love this story,” doesn’t give you much useful information.

Add the fact that many of us do not know how to give a constructive, helpful critique.

Enter Critique Circle.  The membership is free.  The site gives examples and templates on how to critique.  You have to give a certain number of critiques before you can submit up to 5,000 words and get critiques from other members.  Critiques are graded on how helpful they were by the writer who receives them.  This is only the beginning of all the helpful goodies that are on this site.  No, I do not own stock or make any money from Critique Circle.

I have submitted two chapters of my novel so far, and benefited enormously from the critiques already received.  Check it out.