Do you belong to a “writing group”? Or, if you don’t have an “official” group, do you have some writing buddies you can share your work with to get feedback?
If you have writing buddies, congratulations! You’re on the “write” track – (sometimes I can’t help myself). If you don’t have writing buddies, I encourage you to find some you can work with. The only criteria are that everybody is actively writing, wanting to improve, and open to feedback.
I belong to two writing groups – one is “live” and the other is an online group, and they’re both AMAZING! Let me give you an example based on my current novel. I’ve completed the first draft of a YA mystery, and like every first draft of mine, it’s crappy and needs some serious revision.
I revised chapter one several times before I submitted it to my writing group that meets in person. They gave me numerous comments on every page. I revised based on their suggestions and re-submitted. The second draft was stronger, but they still gave me quite a bit of feedback.
I revised it yet again and then submitted the same chapter to my online writing group. I got sixteen comments and two lengthy paragraphs of suggestions – on six pages of writing which had already been heavily revised. The comments ranged from “this is awkward” to “this character needs to show a little more emotion.”
Soo, looks like I’ll be revising this chapter…again. And probably again after that.
But, every time I submitted it for feedback, my writing buddies made insightful comments. They told me where I needed to deepen the emotion or clarify any confusion, and they also pointed out where they loved the voice or the description.
With each draft, I’m improving my craft as a writer, and without them, the process would be much slower.
There are some irrefutable benefits to having writing buddies:
1) They will give you a variety of comments because different readers will get confused in different spots. They will tend to key in on their own strengths, whether that’s dialogue, description, voice, or even grammar and punctuation. This can be so helpful because though we’d like to think we’re strong in all these areas, the reality is that we’re probably not.
2) They will question you about your characters, setting, or plot and push you to develop it further. Sometimes when we imagine something in our head, it’s so clear to us, but we don’t manage to convey that to our readers. Writing buddies are great at finding those spots and asking the questions that you need to answer in your story.
3) They catch inconsistencies that I might miss. For example, I had a character refer to his uncle as Uncle Jim and also as Jim. They wanted to know why. Um…because I forgot to put “Uncle” in the other spots.
4) They push you to improve and isn’t that the goal? To become better at the craft of writing? I try hard to submit my best work to my writing groups, and I’ve never had anyone say “this is perfect. Wow!!” Maybe that’s sad, but it’s the truth.
5) They push you to finish pieces and be accountable. If I know that I’m meeting with my writing group, then I know I have to have something ready to go several days before that. I love little kick in the butt to sit down and write, and sometimes I need it.
6) They help you make your writing the best it can be. In fact, if you want to get published, your writing MUST be the best you can make it before you even consider submitting it to an agent or publisher. You’d never want to self-publish or submit a first draft, and your writing buddies can help you make a decent story, excellent.
I can’t urge you enough to get a writing group, or if you don’t have one, post here on WTW for some online feedback.