Today I'd like to talk about my writing group and what I learned about critiquing this week. We did a group critique on a Christmas picture book story I wrote. This is the first time I've participated in a large group, usually I'm just part of a 2-3 person cross critique. This time I had about 10 people reviewing my story.
Before doing the critique we were given guidelines on how to do it. Everyone had their own copies. We were told we needed to write something positive on either side of a negative on a manuscript. The positive could be something simple as you liked a phrase or the name of a character. Everyone took turns reading a paragraph and at the end of each page they would write their comments on that page. That copy of the manuscript would be passed to the person on the right. They could read your comments and then write theirs on the next page. This continued for each page until the story was completed. Each person was to write a final comment and any additional suggestions. At completion all the copies were handed back to me.
After reviewing the copies, I noticed there really wasn't that much of a difference from a large group doing this as opposed to my smaller cross critiques in the group. They were pretty basic comments like adding a comma or maybe clarifying a point a little more. This didn't surprise me as it is done in such a quick format. There is no way you can write detailed notes when you are trying to read along with a group and stay on line with them.
It's much different when I email a story to another writer to critique. I get much more detailed breakdowns as to suggestions. The only person in the large group who did a thorough critique was our moderator, who had reviewed it ahead of time. Her results looked like a corrected term paper with notes all over the place. This is what I want. It will be 99% of the notes from that analysis that will be the basis of my next re-write.
The best advice I read this week was that tennis greats don't get to be #1 in their field by thinking about tennis, it was by hitting the ball a thousand or more times. It is the same case in being a writer you have to write and not just think about it. Even though I've had a bad cold for the last two weeks, I've still done writing and reading. This week I've sent out a query to one magazine with three potential proposals, sent out an interview article, sent out a funny story to Reader's digest and sent out a devotional to a Christian magazine.
I also entered a recipe in a contest. It's the time of year or maybe because I've been sick. I just want to make food. Our refrigerator freezer is getting filled with lots of food for when I don't feel like cooking.