by Maggie Toussaint
In the beginning, I thought I knew how to write a book. But it wasn't until I joined a critique group (and began to swim with the big fish) that I learned how much more there was to book writing. I learned a lot from my first group, good stuff and bad.
First the good stuff: when a word/phrase/scene brought comment from more than one person in the group, it needed additional work. When I felt the need to explain a passage at our critique meetings, I hadn't done a good enough job in the book and it needed more work.
The bad stuff wasn't so bad. For me, the worst part was getting conflicting input. I had a tendency to want to please everyone and I spent a year rewriting a book to everyone's satisfaction. When I finished it, I hated it and there was no coherent voice.
Which brought home another lesson. I learned it was important for me to complete a book before I brought it to critique. Then I was certain of where the story was going and who the characters were.
I lost a year doing that group-pleasing book, but I gained back my focus. Critique is a good way to sharpen your work, a good way to check for repetitions, for craft essentials, and story.
Since that first group, I've had several online critique partners, and I believe we all learned from each other. Critique isn't for everyone, but it sure helped me. I give it a thumbs up!
a fresh new voice in Southern fiction