Inviting Criticism

So, generally speaking, you probably don’t walk up to strangers and say, “Can you tell me what you’d change about my clothes?” Or “How would you improve my personality?”

Well, it feels about the same to send the first chapter of my book out to a group of 200+ Christian writers who I am hoping will tell me what’s wrong with my writing. (And what’s right, but honestly, it’s what’s wrong that worries me!)

I’ve joined the American Christian Fiction Writers critique loop. I can submit up to two chapters of no more than 2,500 words each week and in turn am expected to critique two chapters for each one I submit. I sent my first chapter in yesterday. I’m eagerly/anxiously waiting to hear back.

There’s at least one person on the loop with whom I’m familiar via her blog. Everyone else is a stranger. But they’re all Christians and all in the same boat I am. I think this is going to be helpful, informative and quite possibly fun. I also think it’s going to make my book much better.

Q4U – Who’s opinion do you really–I mean really–trust?

5 thoughts on “Inviting Criticism

  1. Congrats and good luck.

    I’m the author of two published non-fiction books (the second out this week) and I choose my “first readers” very carefully. For the first book, I picked a variety of people, including one who would read it purely for technical errors in that specific subject and one of my researchers, who found holes in the material because she knew it so well by then.

    For this book, I chose three fellow professional writers and a good friend who reads a lot.

    The challenge for you now will be to determine: 1) which of these comments really makes sense 2) what level of quality do these strangers produce themselves 3) what if their comments are all over the map?

    I was fortunate that all five on my new book agreed on its weaknesses and that made my direction when revising very clear.

    http://malledthebook.com/
    http://blownawaythebook.com/

  2. Thanks for the visit and the advice! I’m hoping that after submitting a few chapters I’ll find a smaller group of readers who “fit” me. As I understand it, folks often splinter off from the larger group and form more personal small groups.

    And the rule of thumb recommended by other criter is that if one person makes a suggestion, consider it; if two, seriously consider it; if three, fix it!

    Thanks for stopping by–you’re books look really interesting. As a woman who grew up on a farm around guns I’m particularly intrigued by “Blown Away.”

  3. cynthiaherron

    I have a reader who happens to be a teacher by profession, and she is also a Christian. She double-checks for punctuation, sentence structure, that type of thing. Also, if you’ve had any feedback from agents and editors, besides your critique group, their insight is priceless. (They’re acutely aware, of course, of marketing trends and what is or isn’t connecting with today’s readers.) In my case, I had to learn to slash my beloved backstory and limit description. Drats! I do so love descriptive narrative, Sarah! : )

    Also, I might add, that while I do love and read Amish books, that’s not what I write. When I had someone that actually suggested I write my ENTIRE novel with an Amish slant, that’s where I had to draw the line. My novel wasn’t Amish and there was no way I could make it so without completely destroying my story.

    Your rule of thumb above is very realistic. Reworking your novel into another story entirely is a different cup o’tea.

    Happy writing today!

    1. I did get feedback from an acquisitions editor. I had the same backstory problem! Honestly, I didn’t think it was a prologue unless there were big letters at the beginning that said PROLOGUE. Silly, silly.

  4. Bethany

    Sarah! I like this post. Makes me feel like I know you better. Getting ready to critique your chapter 3! Loving M.ofD. so far. And for those of you who don’t know what M.ofD. is, be looking in bookstores for Sarah’s name and you’ll find it soon. Of that I am confident! 😉

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