Critiquing is for Scaredy-cats and Recluses Too | Sandy Vaile

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Critiquing tends to evoke strong opinions in the writing community: people either swear by it or avoid it like the plague. So, will it be a benefit or handicap to you?

This depends on who you partner with, your openness to feedback and how long you stick at it. Embracing critiquing can improve the quality of your writing immensely. I know, because I’ve seen it work repeatedly.

When I started The Novelists’ Circle group in 2010, I had no idea what an effective tool it would be for so many fiction writers. That first night there were three nervous writers staring expectantly at me, who was terrified that this would be a failure. Well, you know what? We learnt plenty from one another and it never ceases to amaze me what obscure knowledge or skill each person has that can make the world of difference to another person’s story. Not to mention the sheer motivating power of interacting with likeminded individuals. The group is still going strong and we’ve produced nearly a dozen published authors.

That’s the power of critiquing!

Why is it so effective?

You only know what you’ve learnt or experienced, but critiquing allows you to:
• Tap into knowledge and life-skills you don’t have.
• Get fresh eyes on your work in an affordable way, so you can test content before you make a fool of yourself in print.
• Gradually learn new skills and get to apply them regularly [or on their own work].
• Write regularly because someone else is expecting to see pages and you are motivated by their enthusiasm.
• Have built-it beta readers for the completed manuscript.
What it involves

Critiquing is the process of sharing your writing with others in order to receive feedback. It’s a reciprocal arrangement that can be arranged to suit small or large groups, face-to-face or online formats.
You should understand that critique partners (probably) aren’t professional editors, can’t possibly have perfected every aspect of writing, and will be restricted by their own world views and abilities. All of this is fine, because you’re giving a personal opinion.
It’s up to you whether or not their suggestions suit what you’re trying to achieve.

Why it suits scaredy-cats and recluses

Yes, putting your beloved story up for criticism can be terrifying—that’s how you know you care about it—but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and may well be the best thing you ever do for your writing. It certainly was for me!
Like all scary things, you need to break it down into baby steps. The key to a successful partnership is finding the right people, but that doesn’t have to mean they write in the same genre or live in the same town.
Just like you do when you write, you need to :

  1. Test potential critique partners by sharing small portions of your work until you are comfortable with one another.
  2. Assess how the feedback makes you feel, if it is helps improve your writing and builds your confidence.
  3. Modify the arrangement to suit, e.g. share more pages, find a new partner, be more specific about the type of feedback you’re looking for.

Even scaredy-cats can seek an introduction to a potential critique partner or message one person they’ve been chatting with on Facebook. Even recluses, or the location-challenged, can find an electronic solution that doesn’t require leaving the house

A guided tour

A guided tour of the critiquing process is the perfect way to dip your toes into the pond. My brand new 6-week workshop will provide a nurturing environment and personal introductions while you learn to give and receive feedback confidently.

Improve the quality of your writing and make life-long friends with Taste Test Critiquing starting on 1st April 2019.

Booking link: www.trybooking.com/ZXTQ


Sandy Vaile is a motorbike-riding daredevil who isn’t content with a story unless there’s a courageous heroine and a dead body.
Sandy is an experienced critiquer whose groups, workshops and services have supported many authors to reach their publication dreams. By day she writes procedures for high-risk industrial processes, by night she devises horrible things to do to fictional characters, and in her spare time she mentors aspiring writers, judges romance writing competitions and presents craft workshops.


Taste Test Critiquing with Sandy Vaile
Course Dates: 1 April to 10 May, 2019
Cost: RWA Member—$82.50. Non-RWA Member—$104.50
Booking link: www.trybooking.com/ZXTQ

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