Cruising For Critters

Published July 2, 2013 by M E McMahon

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I love my Critters!  No, not the birds outside my window, or the gator in the lake down the road, or my new puppy..I mean people who give me feedback on my work. Critiques are an invaluable tool for writers, poets, photographers and bloggers and we sometimes have to cruise around to find those people I lovingly call “Critters.”

Now, some people play it safe and just let family members or close friends take a look and let you know how they liked it.  And, that’s good!  But, are you really going to get an honest answer?  Or, are they equipped to offer a detailed critique?  Hmmm…I don’t know about you, but except for my daughter, my family and friends lack the skill to look at my story and find possible holes I missed, dialogue that doesn’t ring true, or have suggestions on how to strengthen the plot.

So, where do we find these people willing to read our work and give us their honest feedback or some really valuable constructive criticism?  I have been lucky in finding a few options that I can choose from when I want a different set of eyes to evaluate my stories or chapters from my work-in-progress novel.

What’s that you say?  Oh, yes, editors will critique your work and offer professional critiques and help you make that story shine like a brand new Caddy.  But, first, you have to submit your story and get accepted before an editor will work with you, right?  If you send in a hot mess…well, you know what happens to those manuscripts.  So, I suggest you get some feedback before rushing that work out to a publisher.

I have found it very helpful, especially with the chapters of my novel, to get critiques and evaluate what the Critters tell me.  I take it on the chin when they point out what they don’t like because they often have a valid point.  After all, our purpose in submitting work to publishers is to be read…by readers.  So, who better to ask for help then from the readers themselves?

There are many Critique forums available out there on the Internet, but the one that was suggested by a great blogging buddy, Gwen at The 4 A.M. Writer Blog has really welcomed me with open arms and been extremely helpful with my novel.  Critique Circle has a great bunch of people who really want to help you, and so far, I’ve received some really positive and constructive advice on those chapters I have had reviewed.

Now, be prepared to work for those critiques.  Critique Circle requires you to critique other writers before you can submit your work.  There is also a time delay before your piece goes up for review.  But, the wait is well worth it to get that oh so valuable feedback.

We have another great option here in the wonderful world of WordPress.  I have used the “Feedback” option and selected a few of my followers to read and critique chapters of my novel, and it has been a wonderful experience.  They know who they are and they will be included in the Acknowledgement section of my book…count on it, my friends.

I have used paid critique services for very short stories, as they are expensive to use and I don’t use them often.  Most times, I turn to them when a deadline is involved for submission and I’m under the gun.  I consider it an investment, but not one I want to make everyday.

So, if you’re cruising for Critters, check out Critique Circle or try out the Feedback option. Or, go out there in Cyberspace and find one that fits your needs.  Because, I feel that everyone needs a Critter or two before sending those stories to a Publisher.  At least, I know I do!

Yours in Writing,

M E

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