Advice for New Writers
You can’t write in a vacuum. Every aspiring author is told they need to share their writing with others, that they need feedback. It’s advice that’s easily discarded. I mean, my writing sucks, right? Why would I want anyone else to read it? Well, because it probably doesn’t suck anywhere nearly as bad as I think it does and I need to know what I’m doing wrong.
It’s the same as working out. Form is everything. If my form is wrong, whatever I’m doing isn’t providing the benefits I’m after, and writing is no different. I don’t want to write an entire story where I name every emotion my characters are feeling, because that’s a heck of a lot of rewriting. A good critique partner can point out where I’m telling instead of showing in just a couple of chapters. I can rework those chapters and send them back, understanding what changes I made and why. Then going forward, I should be ready to write a better rest of my first draft.
No matter how long I’ve been writing, it’s difficult to see my own errors. I need input from someone else. Another writer. Yes, I need reader input as well to make sure my plot works, my characters are likeable, and my pacing doesn’t bore them, but if I want to write well, I need to share my writing with someone who understands how to write, not just how to read.
So where do you go about find critique partners? Everywhere. If you’re the type of writer who wants face-to-face feedback, you can join a local writing group. Nearly every city in every state in the U.S. has one and I’m sure that’s not unique to America. If you’re a more reclusive writer, or find it difficult to get away for a few hours once a month, online critique partners are easy to find through a variety of writing sites, organizations, even Goodreads.
I’m not going to lie, getting the harsh truth is painful. Yes, I knew going in my writing wasn’t good enough, but it’s still tough to hear the parts I thought were beautifully crafted were actually the problem. I ached to defend my work, argue why it needed to be the way I wrote it, but there’s no point in seeking feedback if I didn’t really want to hear it. I took a deep breath, listened, took it all in, mulled it over, and decided some of it was valid. Particularly when I got the same feedback from multiple critique partners.
The best advice I can offer an amateur writer is to find a group of critique partners you click with and learn as much as you can from one another. They will become some of your biggest champions, and if you’re anything like me, some of your closest friends.