Since I started writing seriously, I’ve had quite a handful of friends reading my stuff, with some being more helpful than others. But I just recently worked with my first real critique partner, whom I found through a partner match-up that the amazingly talented Maggie Stiefvater hosted on her LiveJournal. (Maggie Stiefvater)
First of all, I knew that this would be a great experience, because having someone read my work who is also working on the same type of manuscript means that they will really know what they’re talking about. Everyone posted a description of their story and then people could contact each other based on that. I read through over 100 comments, and since Maggie is a paranormal YA writer, that’s what almost everyone else was writing. But luckily, I found someone who was working on a YA contemporary that sounded similar to my own.
After working with her, I noticed some things about critiques…
1. A lot of the little things I noticed in her MS were things that I had spent a lot of time working on in my own early stages of revision. I was glad I could pass on the tips that it had taken me a while to figure out.
2. A lot of the things she pointed out with my MS were things I already knew needed to be fixed. But for some reason, I hadn’t. For some things, I was just being stubborn and I liked things the way they were, even though I’d read so much that told me doing these things wasn’t good. And for other things, it may have just been laziness. I was going to put this MS aside for a long time and focus on my second one, so I didn’t want to bother with any more big revisions.
3. Some other things she pointed out were things I hadn’t noticed on my own. But once I read her comments I thought, “Duh. That’s so silly. I could fix this easily.”
So biggest lesson learned: If I know something needs to be changed, but for some reason I want to keep it the way it is… IT MUST BE CHANGED. Because if even I know it’s wrong, then any agent/editor is going to hate it.
Now I just may try to find the time to make these revisions before I start grad school in July. Of course if I do, then that means another round of querying. So I’m making this my second priority, after the first draft of my WIP. Because right now I’m much more excited about this second MS than the first one.
But I’m so grateful for this experience, and thank you to my wonderful critique partner Linda. I’ll be excited for the chance to work with her again or another partner in the future.