Friday, December 14, 2007

True Friends

My favorite part of Christmas is the time with family and friends, especially those loved ones who don't live nearby but who come "home" for the holidays. This weekend my best friend from high school will be here from Louisville, KY, another good friend whom I mentored through our church youth group comes home from college, and my sister and her baby boy, Jake, fly in from Colorado (Jake's daddy will come next weekend). My heart is so excited to spend time with these friends and family! (We call it "The Jake and Jodi Show" when these two baby cousins are together.)

Stop for a minute and thank God for the wonderful people He has put in your life. I know many of you are good friends with your fellow writers and have joined together in critique groups. Here's my word of caution in this: If you consider your crit buddies your friends, make sure they are true friends--ones you can be completely honest with and who will be completely honest with you.

Occasionally, I review a manuscript that needs major revision, even though the author has told me her critique partners have read and loved her story. And I'm left wondering what help these buddies are if they're not pointing out huge problems in the plot, characters, etc!

Do your crit buddies tell you the truth about your manuscripts? If they only ever give glowing reports and never any areas to improve upon, you may need some new buddies. Sure, they're good for your ego but not for your growth as a writer. Find true friends to critique your work--friends who will tell you if your hero has no personality or they couldn't keep from yawning through chapter four; friends who will be constructively critical and will push you to do your best work. And if you're a crit buddy to someone else, make sure you're being a true friend, too.

Here are "friends" Jake and Jodi during their last "show" together back in September. :)


Pam Hillman said...

Long ago in a far away galaxy I had a partner who sent full chapters with no comments, no marks, nothing. She'd say it was "perfect". Shudder. I'd sent the stuff to her to crit and I could find all kinds of things that needed fixing! Needless to say, we didn't crit for long.

My children are teenagers now, but when cousins were little, we had a lot of fun with those "shows" too.

Myra Johnson said...

I think part of it is getting comfortable with your group. When I started out with a new group a year ago, we were all kind of easy on each other. Only as we became familiar with each other's style, strengths, and weaknesses, were we able to trust enough both to give and receive tougher critiques.

Anonymous said...

When I first started this writing journery, I stumbled across two really great teachers--Chris Lynxwiler and Lynn Coleman. When my crit group would return my chapters 'unmarked,' I would send them to Chris and/or Lynn to get their viewpoint. And boy, did those marked pages help me grow as a writer!

I now have two great crit partners who hold nothing back which is wonderful if your desire to be the best writer you can be.

Those two cuties make me want grandchildren which according to my girls is at least another ten years away. 'sigh'


Mary Connealy said...

I remember when I first joined a critique group. I don't know how long it was, I loved those ladies and their writing and didn't feel skilled enough to be very tough on them. But one week something kind of struck home and I told them, I'm going to be a lot meaner to them from now one.
Their response? YAY!

Darlene Franklin said...

I have 2 groups of readers. There are people I send things to when I simply need encouragement and a kind word. "Good start. Keep up the good work." I thank God for those readers, because I value their encouragement. But I don't take their kindness to mean my work is perfect.

Then there are my precious critique partners whom I can count on to let me know what needs to be fixed. They are all Heartsong authors, and I respect their skill and tact in helping me grow.

Praise God for friends who speak the truth in love!