Whether you’ve been reading our blog since its official launch last week or just stopped in today, it’s been so much fun to have you visit our new site and share in our little corner of the world. If you belong to a critique group, too, here’s how you can be a star member and shine!
Be encouraging. During your meeting, for each new manuscript, work hard to be sure that the first comments out of your mouth are positive ones. Instead of racing to be the first to point out a mistake, make it your goal to be the star encourager. Spend time encouraging the author first. Even the most simple words of encouragement can uplift a writer’s soul. Saying “Wow!” and “I like it,” and “I can tell you’ve really enjoyed working on this,” offer much needed validation in a rejection-oriented world.
Be diligent. Work hard to write down encouraging remarks. Every member gives up precious time to attend your meeting. When its their turn, don’t just listen to the manuscript and smile. Use your pen and write down at least two positive comments on every single page. Point out realistic dialogue. Circle and make a note of a great setting. Underline a well-worded passage. If you don’t know the technical terms for analyzing a passage, circle it and write, “Nice!” Draw a smiley face next to it. Be a star critique group member and write, “I like this!” or “This is great!” or “Good job!” or “Interesting!” When the writer returns home and reads your comments, his or her writer’s soul will be restored, refreshed, and renewed.
Be helpful. Don’t yet know how to offer constructive criticism that truly helps improve a manuscript? Be a star critique group member and make it your goal to become a better editor. First learn how to self-edit your own manuscripts with this helpful article by Renee Heiss, A Fiction Writer’s Checklist. Practice learning how to edit and polish your own manuscript so you can write helpful, constructive comments on every single page of each member’s manuscript when you meet to critique.
If you’re already a member of a critique group, don’t fall into the easy trap of lazy editing and discouraging remarks. Make it your goal to be a star critique group member and shine! Say encouraging remarks, write positive comments on every page, and learn how to give solid feedback to others.
Contributed by Nancy I. Sanders