Writing friends

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Writing resources

After I’ve written an entire series on bad advice, and a fairly long guide to being completely unhelpful as a critique partner, you may think I haven’t had any good experiences with writing friends. This is not true. (Contest judges are another story.)

I actually have several people (mostly writers, but a few nonwriters) who read my writing and consistently offer excellent analysis, insight and advice. (And, oddly enough, almost none of them actually read this blog. But thank you anyway!)

Their advice has pointed out weaknesses in my writing from phrasing to pacing—and not in the “oh, you suck” way, but in a “Hey, I think you can do this better” way. They’ve helped me see issues that I knew my story had—and find solutions to make my work stronger. They’re more than just fresh eyes to give me perspective—they’ve been a wealth of ideas and insight to improve my story on so many levels.

Each of my critiquers/beta readers is good at spotting different things. Each of them has different strengths—one may be really good at helping me to deepen characterization while another is good at seeing . . . “opportunities” for more suspense. Even nonwriters—i.e. people like your target audience—can offer valuable insight (though they may not phrase it quite the same way a writer would 😉 ).

But I’m sure we all have at least one story. How have writing friends and critique partners helped your writing? (Feel free to share specific examples if you like!)

Photo by Art G.

Series NavigationGet the most out of conferences

4 thoughts on “Writing friends”

  1. The good one are the ones who rip things apart. Sometimes it’s hard to distance myself from my writing so this kind of thing really helps.

  2. Well, yes and no. There’s a huge difference between someone who’s at least willing to help me improve even though I suck and someone who seems to only want to tell me I suck as many ways and times as possible. Yeah, that’ll distance me from my writing—so far I never go back.

    But I do really love getting comments and analysis—just with the “this scene/character/chapter could be so much more [if you do X]” tone instead of the “so, is this the first or the second thing you’ve ever written, idiot?” tone.

  3. So far my writing group isn’t helpful at all because they don’t have the time to study novel-length work. The group offers generalized instruction and encouragement which has its place. I have other beta readers who leave sticky notes on my mss with questions (“Would a .22 really have enough kickback to whack his shoulder that hard?”) and happy faces beside sentences they particularly like. Unfortunately they aren’t really unbiased readers but I appreciate their feedback. My two best “critters” aren’t entirely unbiased either, but both are writers themselves and know what I need.

  4. I’m in an excellent critique group at CC. We’ve been working together for well over a year now, and we all help each other in different ways. While one may be great with plots, another one may help with sentence structure. Others may notice typos that have been missed. Getting feedback from each other after reading a few chapters it great, but what I love the most is the honesty of the group.

    If you have a private critique group at CC, you also have your own forum. That’s great when you want to chat about a problem you may be having with your writing or character. I recently wrote a story where I had to change the name of one of the main characters because I’d seen a book in a store with a similar character with the same name. We discussed it on the forum, and within a few minutes, I had a new name for my fairy.

    Recently, I wrote two or three different opening chapters for one of my manuscripts, and posted all of them for our group to critique. They voted, and that was a great help because I had no idea which one was best.

    I highly recommend Critique Circle for finding a great critique group.

Comments are closed.