I don’t know how any writer can get by without her posse, her crit-ters. I sure as certain can’t get by without mine. Critique partners are essential as pre-editors, as brainstormers, as cheerleaders and reality-checkers and research-challengers. They idiot-proof your WIP so you don’t look like a complete moron in front of your real editor.
My posse is a group of five other women. We meet every other Tuesday nite from 7:30 to whenever we get done. Sometimes we critique, sometimes we brainstorm. We always open with personal news, both good and bad. It’s not all writing – we’ve been friends for years. My friend Erin is our leader. She’s the communications director for a major insurance company. She does beading on the side – her jewelry is amazing. She’s a fantasy fan/reader and doesn’t write but is a killer editor and brainstormer. My friend Lorrie is a legal secretary, budding jeweler and JUST SOLD HER FIRST NOVEL! Yay! She is my prime reality-checker, especially for motion and transitions. My friend Lois is an art teacher and a wonderful poet. She is my language checker, checking my narrative and dialogue for musicality and rhythm. Laurel is the other multi-published romance writer. She’s also a judge and reviewer, and she is my motivation checker. She’s always after the WHY. She always pushes me to dig deeper into psyches. Peg is another jeweler and budding fiction writer who writes some of the the most awesome quirky characters I’ve ever read. She’s a stickler for character chemistry and description.
I call it “writing by committee.”
We always try to be honest and tough but never cruel. We have had our disagreements and some hard feelings but they never last long. We have each had to step back on occasion for family issues, but are always welcomed back with open arms.
The hardest part is when people disagree about a specific part. Half love it. Half hate it. Who do you listen to? Who’s right? Who’s wrong? There are no right or wrong answers. Listen to all the opinions, weigh the rationales. Then go home and do NOTHING for a couple days. THEN go back over it again. Follow your gut. I can point out in every story who changed what. And each of my friends has her favorite Guardian story. I know Laurel loves Lycan Tides and Peg loves Hedda’s Sword.
Every writer needs her own posse – at least one or two non-relatives, preferably other writers (or at least readers of the genre) who are picky and NOT shy. People who tell you “it’s perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing” are useless. If you have those, fire them immediately. (Sorry Grandma – still love ya!) It’s not enough to say, “it’s weak” or “it didn’t work for me.” They have to be able to tell you why. They can tell you the parts they loved (a totally negative crit is a real downer), but you’re in a critique group to get BETTER so you need to know what to fix. The reason to have more than one person is everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses – together they make for a well-rounded whole.
And then – you don’t look like a complete moron in front of your beloved editor! <LOL> HI LINDA!