Writers Shouldn’t Fear Critique
Writing critique is a learning experience. As writers, we should welcome it. We need to remember those critiquing our work are doing so because they want to see us succeed in the field. It’s like an athlete receiving tough coaching from a coach.
The coach wants to see their players succeed. Therefore, they’ll critique a player’s, even a great player’s, mistakes. Even if players don’t take kindly to the message at first.
So, as writers, we must remember how good we’re going to be from such critique. Take critique in stride and watch yourself grow as a writer.
Remember, there are over twenty ways to make mistakes as a writer. And this doesn’t count plot holes, errors in character name, structure, personality, etc. I’m talking about common mistakes, like telling instead of showing.
Why You Need Critique
For any novel you look to sell on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, or any other aggregate site, you better get at least a second and third pair of eyes on your work.
And no, it shouldn’t be your mother’s significant other’s, or best friends unless they happened to have published a few works themselves and have at least made a side-income off their work.
You need people who’ve written novels, preferably in your genre or at least fiction if you’re a fiction writer, to be your second, third, or even fourth set of eyes. Heck, if you have a dozen writer friends send a copy of your manuscript to all twelve.
You need as many beta-readers as you can get and I cannot stress this enough.
It’s only going to make your writing better. Your story better. And in the long run, your credibility is going to be light years ahead of what it may’ve been had you thought your work was perfect.
Win or Learn
There are no wins or loses when it comes to asking for critique. Though your work may be torn apart by a beta reader, honest betas will tell you what’s working, what your strengths are, and how believable your characters are.
Sure, they’re going to expose your weaknesses.
It’s better a beta-reader exposes such weaknesses before readers do. If you have a weak plot, a beta-reader will spot it but they’ll also tell you why.
There are no losses here.
If you have a strong plot, you’re set in this regard. If it’s weak, beta-readers will tell what you can do to make it stronger.
Keeping up with the weak plot scenario, beta-readers will even tell you what you have going for your plot.
In other words, your plots will always contain a strong element, regardless of its weaknesses.
Again, don’t fear critique from anyone if your book isn’t ready yet. It’s another stage in the writing process.
Avoiding the Small Errors
Editors can work in this regard and again, there will be more critique of your writing, but hang tough. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to publish a manuscript where ‘a’ should be ‘an,’ ‘it’s’ should be ‘its,’ or ‘effect’ should be ‘affect.’
The grammar police will be out the second your book is published and some of the nastier ones might let you know in the reviews section. Imagine logging onto Amazon to check how your book is going only to see a one or two-star review panning your awesome story because of grammar errors.
Yes, grammar errors can kill a great plot.
Again, it’s worth at least getting a beta if you can’t afford an editor, since the better ones might charge a few cents per word, costing a few thousand dollars.
Many of us don’t have money to swing in our early writing days.
Again. Get critique. Sure, your grammar may be abysmal, but at the very least it’ll be fixed and your grammar skills alone will improve over time from….critique!
Don’t be one of those writers who sell themselves short because of bad grammar. You might have a character that speaks as such, as I have a few in Swords of Destiny, but bad grammar in narration? Ah, you might want to at least get it checked.
Or at least invest in Grammarly, a tool I like to use, or run your work through an editor on Pro Writing Aid. Both are valuable and have a free and paid version. Go ahead and check them out here and here.
Don’t allow a lot of small grammar errors kill your great text.
These days, fiction works have to be believable, even fantasy works, as mine are. Once upon a time, the opposite was the case.
Like with grammar, if you have a great story and great character, but the characters aren’t believable or compelling, the reader is going to get bored fast.
When I wrote Northern Knights, I realized in my early drafts I was very distant with character development. One of the last things I did was add pizazz to my characters.
For Cain, my main character in the work, I built off his cocky personality and turned him into a foul-mouthed loose cannon.
Lira, my main supporting character, is Cain’s best friend and polar opposite. She’s humble and reasoning, but at times can be feisty herself. She’s also easily annoyed with Cain and tends to over-emphasize her wisdom to his recklessness.
Before, they had the personality, but the dialogue was FLAT. With a little critique, I fixed the problem immediately.
Writers, you need to love receiving critique. Nothing, I mean nothing will help you evolve over time, over the course of a potential career, than sound critique from honest beta-readers.
We’re all going to have strengths and weaknesses. Even I have strengths and weaknesses after three years of writing. I can overdo character development at times, move through my plots far too quickly, and take a little realism out of the plot.
So, we all need development and none of us should assume we know it all. Writers who do are usually the one and done’s. They tend to do all the work themselves, publish after writing a few drafts without bothering to engage in much editing, and it always comes out to bite them.
Do you want to make a living as a writer and work for yourself, or would you rather work hard for someone else in a job you don’t want?
It’s worth taking those growing pains. Start loving critique and readers will love your writing.