Justine: Writing in a Vacuum Sucks

59612318 - woman with vacuum cleaner isolated on whiteI’m very fortunate to have two fantastic critique partners, Jenn and Lisa, that I meet with once a week. Every Tuesday, we hit the Red Robin in Scottsdale, AZ for lunch (because it’s close to Lisa’s office) and we talk about writing, swap critiqued pages, discuss story problems, or vent about our husbands and kids.

Jenn, Lisa, and I have all have a somewhat similar writing background. We’ve done multiple Immersions with Margie Lawson, so we all look for the same sort of rhetorical devices in our writing based on the lessons we’ve learned from Margie. We’ve also all taken similar plotting classes and while we none of us write in the same genre, we know each other’s stories well and we have a pretty good understanding of our respective writing styles so as not to suggest fixes that change each other’s stories into our own.

As good as that all is – and it’s really good – I think every writer needs Continue reading

Nancy: The Twice Blest Nature of Critique

The cover of one of the first stories I critiqued, because I still love the story (and its beautiful cover).

The cover of one of the first stories I critiqued, because I still love the story (and its beautiful cover).

I’ve had multiple critique partners and have read lots of other writers’ manuscripts over the years. As several of the Ladies converge on NYC, I’ve been thinking about what a great opportunities our McDaniel program has afforded us, not only the craft lessons we learned and the friendships we forged, but in the critique group we’ve now assembled. We speak the same story language. Drop the words ‘missing conflict lock’ into a manuscript critique and boom! – the Lady receiving critique will immediately know the problem with her manuscript. Finding the solution…well, that’s another story, but here at 8LW we’re always happy to brainstorm and help each other find our way out of the corners into which we’ve painted ourselves.

It’s to see what a person receiving a critique gets from the process. But paraphrasing Shakespeare (and who doesn’t love a good Shakespeare paraphrase to start off the week right!): “The quality of critiquing is not strain’d, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven, Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” Continue reading

Jilly: Writer’s Toolkit – Giving Critique

Giving CritiqueOver the last couple of weeks Kat and I have been beta reading Justine’s Royal Ascot contest entry (the first 7k words of her book). In her most recent post, Cultivating A Good Writer / Beta Reader Relationship, Justine offered her top six tips for managing the process from the author’s point of view.

Writing a good critique takes time, but it’s a smart investment, and not only because you’ll be asking your friends to return the favor some day. Analyzing what works and what doesn’t in another writer’s manuscript is a great way to improve your own craft. Here are my half dozen suggestions for delivering a quality beta read: Continue reading