The following comes from the old blog, a year ago now. Reading over it after such an interval, I’m pleased to report that my early optimism about the crit group has more than been upheld. It is a great group of people and I’ve learned so much about writing from their feedback.
I’ve also edited fiction professionally since I wrote that post, a gig earned largely through skills gained by critting their stories, so I have extra reason to be thankful for them letting me and my red pen loose on their prose.
Not to mention another reason this post might become apropos quite soon…
(originally published on 23 March 2011)
We had the first IRL meeting of the new critique group last night. Very interesting and helped me clarify my personal views on critiquing in fiction.
I’ve discovered I subscribe to the Platonic Ideal of story revision. Every story has a perfect form that’s absolutely frikken awesome. Blow my mind. It’s all there.
But the version you have managed to coax out of the aether to settle on the page might not yet capture all that potential. In all fairness, even the best stories never quite do.
But when you’re writing, it’s like Midsummer Nights Dream and you’re bewitched by elven Glamour, eyes shining with the version out there, not what’s on the page.
So I guess I think the job of a good crit is to ease the spell from the author’s eyes, help them see only the version on the page. Where has the vision translated successfully and where does it still need a bit of work? Knowing this can help the writer bait the muse-traps with more appealing lures, sew enough cold iron into their pockets to keep their vision clear on the next raid deep into the word-mines.
Because out there, the story is awesome. And I want that awesome version to make it into this world intact. The world can always use more awesome and I’m happy to help midwife it.