Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday Writing: When Critiquing Funk Attacks

Holy WOW, it's been a while since I've done one of these!

So, I've been in a strange kind of critiquing rut lately. The writing is great. But the urge to send my chapters in for critique has definitely waned. I haven't sent anything in to my crit group in a while, and when my turn rolls around, I look at my pages and think, but they're not ready for critique yet... I spent the longest time trying to figure out what was going on with me.

My crit partners? AWESOME. They are my rocks. They are equal parts friend and critique partner. I love them. The feedback they give me? ALSO AWESOME. They make me look hard at the words I have chosen and the structure of my manuscripts and how to make them as good as they can be. My enthusiasm for my pages? TOTALLY THERE. So what the fonk is my problem?

I read through some of my blog posts and recent emails to my group and the feedback I've been giving other people on their work and it just now hit me:

Critique groups are amazing, but sending in 10 pages at a time takes a L-O-N-G time! And once you get the idea of what direction you need to go in, sometimes it's better to just fix the whole darn thing. Plus, sometimes someone's opinion of a piece changes as they read through it. There might be something on page 67 that completely changes how your crit buddies feel about that horribly uncharacteristic thing your protagonist's best buddy does on page 9.

Put another way, sometimes you go a few chapters in with your crit buddies, and by then, you already know how you have to revise it. So you revise it. And then it's time for a Beta reader.

My crit group has begun to experiment with a couple of us sending in whole manuscripts, or big chunks of whole manuscripts, and then going for long stretches without sending in anything else while we work on the revision and other members submit weekly excerpts. I'm not sure if it's working yet - it's too early to tell - but it's more evidence that critique groups are not a one-size-fits-all situation, sometimes writers go through cycles, and sometimes you have to mix it up a little to figure out what's going to work for everyone.

As for me, right now, I just want to write and revise, and then send in the whole thing so my critters' sharp eyes can pick out the flaws.

How does your critique group do it?


  1. In general, we send a set number of pages--usually 15 or less. Then if someone needs a beta read some of us will volunteer to do it. Personally, I don't have time to do too many beta reads in one year. But I agree that you'll probably get to the beta read stage before a whole manuscript at 10-15 pages is read.

  2. On longer pieces, some kinds of feedback are impossible to give without seeing the shape of the entire manuscript. It's nice to have smart people who are willing to read them!

  3. Hey Ishta, promised I'd leave a comment this time. I think you can't let critquing interfere with process and progress if you are motivated and writing. I think giving in small amounts of work to your group is a good incentive and gets you into good writing habits. As long as you are willing to relinquish the pages/manuscript instead of endlessly (and unproductively) revising and rewriting, you need to go with what's working for you right now.