For the second time since joining the Arlington Writers Group back at the end of August 2010, a story of mine was critiqued during the group last night. The story I submitted for critique was a science fiction mystery that I like quite a bit, but that has been rejected just about everywhere I sent it. I got some good feedback from a few of the editors to whom I sent the story, but I thought it would be useful to submit the story to the group to see if they could find out what was wrong with it.
And the group came through big time. How?
We had an interesting discussion this week in the Arlington Writers Group about giving useful critiques. As in any group, you have people with different levels of writing experience and that can–intentionally or not–influence the critiques given to certain pieces. I’d passed along this great link on Critique Group Etiquette by Madeleine E. Robins because I think it has a lot of sensible things to say. Still, as the discussion evolved something occurred to me that I hadn’t heard much mention of before:
Writing and critiquing are two very different skills.
After an incredibly busy and fragmented day at work, I finished the last of my critiques for the writing group this evening. Now I can get back to working on my own stuff. I’m plugging away at the outline for NextLife but I am also tempted to do some work on “If By Reason of Strength” which has been gnawing at me these last few days. I can’t seem to get my head around the whole things, but I think it can be a very special story if I can. It may be that it’s one of those stories that has to wait to be written until I am good enough to write it.
I ended up doing a second workshop story critique last night instead of working on my own writing because I felt I needed to get it out of the way. I still have one more to do before Sunday when the group meets. As it turns out, I wrote a total of about 3,600 words between the two critiques and I think I did an okay job, considering that I haven’t done very much of this kind of thing before.
I submitted my first critique for a story in the Critter’s writing workshop this evening. Critiques are due by Wednesday so I got mine in just under the wire. I think I did a pretty good job overall. For a critique to count for credit, it has to be at least 200 words. Documentaion says the average is something over 500 words. My critique was just over 1,000 words on a story that was 3,500 words long.
In the meantime, I got several more stories in the mail today. I only have to do one critique per week to meet my quota, but again, it is to my benefit to do as many as I can because I learn from this. I haven’t yet submitted a story, however. I’m debating whether to submit one of my existing stories for review, or to submit something brand new.
Off to bed now, thought. I have to be up at 4:30 AM for a 6 AM workout with Bernard. I can’t even stay up to see the Yankees clinch the division this evening. (Although it looks like it’s going to happen!)