Storybook Perfect

Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Tag: critiquing

Beta-Reading: Handing Over The Critique

At first glance this picture has no relation to this post, but the figure was a gift from the writer's wife. Squee, Loki!

At first glance this picture has no relation to this post, but the figure was a gift from the writer’s wife. Squee, Loki!

You might remember my post last month on beta-reading and how for the first time I was beta-reading a novel for one of my critique group friends. Last night he held a small dinner and gathered all of us (his beta-readers) together so we could give him our thoughts and critiques and he rewarded us with nommy chilli-dogs.

Being that this was my first beta-reading I’m not certain if this is the standard format for returning a beta-reading critique, but I can assure you it was a fun one. A table of avid readers and writers discussing the finer points of the novel, occasionally breaking off onto mad and hilarious tangents, ideas building on each other collectively – the whole experience was organic and enjoyable.

The experience felt very much like when I attend our writers’ group, and since I adore our writers’ group it was hard not to have fun (while learning).

I feel a lot can be learned from being a beta-reader. Maybe not as much as may be learned when your own work is being beta-read, but listening to the other readers’ responses seeing points I had not picked up or my own points reiterated helps me with my ability to critique both others work and my own.

As a writer, I recommend to any other writers out there that if you have the chance to join a critique group or beta-read a fellow author’s work, take it, because you will be growing as a writer yourself in doing so as well as assisting another writer in improving their own work. As I said in my last post: writers are lovely people and who doesn’t want the opportunity to grow whilst helping someone else?

First Meeting

I’ve been wanting to join a writers group for a long time, craving the chance to both be critiqued by others (particularly those not emotionally invested in myself and my work) and to improve my own critiquing skills. Both time and fear have been holding me back.

The fear was the smaller of the two problems. I’m not an introvert so talking to strangers isn’t a daunting task. What worried me was that the group would not work for me. I worried that either I would dislike them (too harsh with their critiques and/or taking joy in that or too nice and pandering, not allowing themselves to say things that needed to be said) or they would dislike me for the similar reasons to why I might have not liked them.

The group I joined was a delight. We all noticed different things from the same pieces and while opinions occasionally differed it didn’t create any animosity between the opposed individuals. I was also glad to find out I wasn’t  awful at critiquing – which was another fear I had since I’ve never critiqued anything and then been able to listen to the author’s reply, unless you count myself… which would be weird.

While the whole group writes in the speculative fiction genre we all seem to write slightly different sub-genres, giving us all a chance to enjoy the widely varied worlds and styles. It was a fun day with some very cool people. I’m looking forward to our next meeting and a little disappointed it’s a whole month away!

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