About a month ago, my manuscript came out of the closet.
Prior to that, only my husband, Mother, and maybe my sisters had read it. (My sisters are not huge fiction readers… they read my book only out of obligation and even then, it is like pulling teeth!)
So, when I went to my first writer’s retreat, it was a huge deal. Would everyone hate it? Would the manuscript be covered in red ink? Was it horrible?
At this particular retreat 6 people, including the mentor Dennis Hensley, reviewed the first 10 chapters of my book. It was a humbling, but at the same time, uplifting experience. I received plenty of great feedback, and a some that I discarded. It was also a great learning time for me, as I got to critique other’s manuscripts as well. I felt like I was adding a little value to others! What a wonderful feeling!
Since that first experience, I now have the privilege of 4 different writers reviewing my work:
Amy and Paul are my ACFW official critique partners. Amy writes wonderful Women’s Fiction, and Paul writes compelling fiction for the ABA market. I have learned a great deal from them and value their input!
I met Kenny at the Writer’s retreat, and we liked each other’s manuscripts so much, that we wanted to exchange writings and critique each other’s work. I just received back my first critique from him, which was very enlightening!
Last, but not least, is Gwen. I met Gwen on the ACFW forum when she requested someone to critique her Inspirational Romance. We are only through chapter 2 of each other’s manuscripts, but I LOVE her book and am so excited to read more! It is great to have a new point of view from a writer whose genre so closely matches mine. She is also new to the writing field, as am I, so it is a great fit, and we can learn from each others mistakes!
The point of this long post is this: Critique Partners are essential! My manuscript wouldn’t be what it is today without all four of these people. You don’t have to agree with your critique partners, and you don’t have to change everything. It is your manuscript, your writing, your voice. My rule of thumb is that if more than one person points something out, I might want to pay attention. Although, most times, I want to slap myself in the head for not seeing the stupid mistake!
So, go find yourself a good critique partner or two… or three… or four… But not too many. Too many hands in the pot.. well, I can’t remember the end of the cliché, but we are supposed to stay away from those right??? Amy and Paul taught me that!