Critiquing For Other Writers

Editing is hard. It’s even harder when you don’t know how to edit or what to look for when editing.

It’s especially even harder still when you’re editing someone else’s work. And when you believe that someone is a better writer than you? Well, how can you edit their work confidently?

Critiquing For Other Writers

I’ve talked about editing all month long with various tips and tricks and advice on editing. This post isn’t going to be like that. Instead, it’s going to be more like a “pep talk,” if you will.

Yesterday I talked about why I think it’s important for writers to be part of some sort of writing or critique group. I’ve had my group for over two years now. People have come and gone in the group, but it’s still going strong and I hope to have my group for many, many years.

Yet, each month I take a look at all the chapters I have to read through. I typically read the work as a reader and then I go back and read it again as a writer. It helps me get a feel for the chapter. It also helps me focus on editing rather than just reading.

This is because I believe all my group members are better writers than me.

This could be for a number of reasons:

  • As a writer, I naturally suffer from self-doubt so I believe everyone is a better writer than me
  • I’m the youngest, so in terms of “experience” in writing, everyone has more than me
  • They may actually be better writers than me

I like to think that no writer is better than another since we all have our own writing styles and people are going to either love, like, hate, or think your writing is just okay. Everyone has different tastes.

Still, when you’re in a group with other writers, you can’t help but think they’re all better than you.

When I read their work, I read through it a few times. I find myself getting immersed in the story, getting wrapped up in the plot and characters. Before I know it, the chapter has ended, I’m eager to read more, yet I haven’t made a single mark on the page.

How can I edit something that’s so good? How can I make corrections when there are none?

Typically, there are mistakes. There are parts of the chapters that could use some help. But I have a hard time seeing them.

It isn’t until we actually meet that the host asks, “What could be improved with this chapter?” I typically wait for someone else to speak first and bounce off from what they say. I wait for someone to say, “I didn’t like this,” and then I can think about myself. Sometimes I agree, but sometimes I can disagree and form my own opinion as to why.

But why can’t I look at it that way when I’m reading the story myself?

I don’t know.

Editing is a learning curve and I definitely find it harder to critique someone else than your own work. Still, you live and learn.

With each new piece I get, I think back to the previous meeting and look for what we discussed they could improve on and see if they did improve on the next one. I’m slowly figuring it out.

It’s hard to look past the feeling that all the other writers in the room are “better” than you. You just have to remember you’re all there to learn. Everyone has their own writing style and unique voice. You’re all writing different stories and possibly different genres. Someone may have been writing longer than you have, but you’re all in the same boat.

Have you ever got the feeling that everyone else is a better writer than you? How do you deal with it? Let me know in the comments below!

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Writing Weekend

Friday: I didn’t do much. I’ve had a head cold for the past week so after work on Friday I didn’t do much of anything. I had the opportunity to go to the movies, but when you have an off-and-on headache that doesn’t want to quit, a dark, loud movie theater is the last place you want to be. Instead, I took a bath and started reading a new book.

Saturday: I felt much better, but still under the weather. I managed to get a few things done, though. I started editing the first part of Detective Florence‘s second draft. The edit was due on Sunday for my writer’s group. Of course I left it until the last minute. It was in my mind all month, but the 15th of the month always seems so far away until it’s staring you right in the face.

I also continued to read the book I started on Friday. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would, yet I couldn’t put it down at the same time. Go figure.

Sunday: I skipped church due to my cold. It was nice to have an extra day to stay home and do nothing. I finished typing up the edited second draft of Detective Florence and sent it off to my writer’s group. Then I spent the majority of the rest of the day reading that book.

Kris is house/pet sitting this week for our neighbors so I went over to their house for a couple of hours last night just to hang out. A new episode of Once Upon A Time was on, so we watched it in their gorgeous living room.

On a side note, I finished reading that book this morning. I’m going to give it a review once I finish reading the trilogy and do all three books at once. Given the ending of the first book, I think that would be a better way to do it. I have a love/hate relationship with that book, so I have no idea how the rest of the series is going to go.

This Week: I plan on starting my outline for Camp NaNo next month. It’s something I should have already started, but of course I didn’t. It’s spring break this week for school, so at least I won’t have any homework to do.

I also plan on getting some of my April posts done so I can focus more on NaNo next month.

In addition to that, I need to continue writing and editing Detective Florence 2 as well as read and edit the stories my writer’s group submitted. There’s only four, so I think it will give me a chance to really take my time with each one.

How was your weekend?

Trivia Night!

Friday: Friday was a long, but good, day. I had work in the morning and then later on that night I went to a Trivia Night with everyone from work. There was a fundraiser going on for the town I work in. There were teachers from most of the town’s schools, parents, and general residents of the town. Let me tell you… the place was packed. The Trivia Night was at a venue walking distance from my house and I’ve been there a few times before. I have never in my life seen the place so full of people.

It was ten rounds of trivia, but at the end of round four only the top 50% kept playing. Needless to say, we stopped after round four. My work had three tables called Material Girls, Uptown Girls, and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (we were dressed up as the 80s). Material Girls came in dead last, Uptown Girls (the table I sat at) came in second to last, and GJWHF came in fourth to last. The main point is that we had fun and that’s all that matters!

I got three questions right and two of them were book questions, so I was proud of myself for that. If there was a trivia night dedicated to books and authors, I would so do that! That would be so much fun.

Saturday: I was down for the count. I stayed up late Friday night because of the trivia night and I was exhausted all day Saturday. I didn’t really do anything too exciting–I cleaned up a bit, went food shopping, and printed out the second draft of Detective Florence.

I have to edit the first chapter of that by March 15 for my local writer’s group, which will meet the last Saturday of March. You never really think how quickly the 15th of the month comes up until it’s the 8th and you realized you only have about a week left to get it done… oops.

Sunday: I went to church and we talked about helping people, being nice to people, and what it means to be happy. It was a good lesson, if I do say so myself.

Kris and I started playing a new video game and we wrote for a little bit. I tried to organize some of my writing things and I worked on this week’s blog posts. So… hopefully those will be good.

This Week: I hope to get my homework done as soon as possible for this week. The following week is Spring Break so I want to have as much time off from school as I can get to focus on writing for the time being.

I also have to edit the second draft’s first chapter of Detective Florence by March 15 to pass it into my local writer’s group. In addition to that, I hope to get some outlining done for my Camp NaNo project.

Those are my two biggest writing goals at the moment. If I can get more done, then I definitely will.

How was your weekend?

Writers Workshop

It’s been an extra long weekend for me. Yesterday (Monday) and today were two more snow days for me. We had another big snowstorm all day yesterday. We may be getting another one Thursday and then yet another one Sunday into Monday… more snow days? We’ll see.

As you can see, my fence is completely buried.
As you can see, my fence is completely buried. Where we’ll put the upcoming snow, I have no idea…

Friday I didn’t do too much. I went to work and finished my homework for the week. It was exciting. Sunday I had church and it was the Superbowl. I’m sure most (if not all) of you watched it. I did not. I know who we were rooting for and I knew who won and that’s about it. I don’t watch it because I don’t understand it, but I heard it was a good game.

Saturday was a fun day for Kris and I. Our dad found an event at our local library called “Writers Workshop.” He thought we would like it, so he told us about it and we went.

Remember a few weeks ago I posted Writers Group Wanted? Well, completely by accident my father found one for me. We all get together, swap manuscripts, give each other feedback, etc.

I know I said I wanted an online one, but you take what you can get, right? Plus, all the people seem really nice. There was about 20 of us there; it was a big turnout. So, the guy who’s running it decided to split it into two groups. Kris and I are going to be in the Saturday group because Wednesday nights are school nights for me and I’m in my pajamas at the time they’ll be meeting.

So, we’ll swap our pieces through e-mail by the 15th of every month and then we’ll critique each other. We’re going to meet the fourth Saturday of every month and discuss our work and critiques. It’ll be a good experience.

With that being said, I still may or may not try to do something on the Internet for me and my WordPress friends (yes, you). As I mentioned in the post above, I was thinking of starting one myself online. I still haven’t decided, but it’s still a thought.

Yesterday and today, as mentioned, are snow days so I plan on doing nothing. Maybe get some homework done, do some writing… but nothing major. I have to take these days while I can.

How was your weekend?

Writers Group Wanted

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

For a long time now I have been wanting to join a writers group. You know, have other writers read and critique my work and I’ll read and critique their work in return.

I found a site called Critique Circle a while ago and it was great. I posted a short story on there and the people who gave me feedback were helpful and informative. However, the thrill of the site ended fairly quickly for me.

I wanted feedback on my stories and the way to do that was to earn credits. You need to earn credits by critiquing others. That’s fine; especially since you don’t want people on there posting story after story and never giving back to anyone else. It makes sense and I agree with that.

The thing is, it can be a long process. Some people are obviously more helpful than others and your story is only posted there for a week. Sometimes people don’t start critiquing it until there’s only one day left for it to be critiqued. In which case, you don’t get a good amount of people looking at your story.

I found another website (the name escapes me at the moment), but I didn’t even bother signing up. You need to pay. Um, no.

So, this is why I’m coming to you all of you guys out there:

–I want to join a writing group to meet other writers like myself
–I would like it to be online (due to my work/school schedule) where we can swap manuscripts and give them back to each other in a certain period of time
–It would be nice to have a small group of five or so people so we can all get to know each other and each other’s writing styles… but it would also be nice to have a large community to get other people’s opinions as well if needed

I know it seems like a lot to ask for and I probably sound extremely picky. I don’t know if any writing groups out there exist like that. I thought I would ask because Google hasn’t been helping on that front.

I’m also asking because, as stated, I’ve been wanting this for a while and my professor for my creative writing class last semester tried to get us to start one. I tried offering different ways we could set a group up, different websites we could use, etc. Three people replied saying, “Sounds good to me” or “Let me know the details and I’ll join.”

In other words, they didn’t seem enthusiastic about it. If they’re not enthusiastic about it, then how can I trust them to be committed and give me structured critique on my work?

So, if anyone knows any good writing group sites or would be willing to even start one up with me, that’d be awesome.

Thanks for the help in advance!