My fellow writer friend and I exchange manuscripts. We’re a good match, and that’s not so easy to find. There are many, many wonderful critique readers out there, but only a few that click with me and what I write. M.L. Rigdon/Julia Donner and I appreciate each other’s style and stories. I sharpen my red pencils to read her manuscripts, and she gleefully bloodies mine…but only gently and generously. We’re fans of each other’s works and only mark things that trip us up or don’t work for us. I don’t want her to write like I do, and she doesn’t try to change me..
Right now, she’s given me her next Regency romance to critique. I love Regency novels, both romances and mysteries. I love historical settings. So I’m a happy reader. And the truth is, I just plain enjoy Julia Donner’s writing style. So this doesn’t FEEL like work to me. It feels like I get to be naughty and peek at the book before anyone else gets to see it. Score one for me!
My daughter, Holly, reads my manuscripts, too. But what’s nice about her feedback is that she reads them as a READER. I know, that may sound odd. But readers notice things that writers don’t. We have different hang-ups. Holly tells me when she loses interest and puts the pages down for a while. She tells me if a character didn’t pull her in. It doesn’t matter if the writing and the words all work. She just wants to be pulled into the story and stay there. She wants to be disappointed when the book ends. M.L. marks when I tell, don’t show, when I go off track and my tension sags and she loses the storyline. And that’s sometimes the same. But Holly doesn’t care as much about skill as she does story. And occasionally, that’s a different thing.
For me, I think I’ve found a perfect balance. I get to read M.L. Rigdon’s/Julia Donner’s books, and I have a writer AND a reader who read my stuff. Once in a while, I get lucky and Kathleen Palm lets me see one of her manuscripts (horror or YA or Middle Grade), and once in a while, she’ll read something of mine and give me feedback. She reminds me to focus on feelings/descriptions/internal dialogue. I rarely look at anyone else’s work or ask them to look at mine. Honestly, I just don’t have the time, but recently, I read Jennifer Bee’s soon-to-be released thriller, THE KILLING CAROL, and it was a great read. I hope it has huge success when it’s released.
For the moment, I’ve found a happy fit for my work. Finding the right critique partner/s is a wonderful thing. If you’re a writer, I hope you find your perfect fit. The right person helps you catch things you don’t see and he or she does his/her best to make your writing as good as it can be.