Monday, October 10, 2011

MUSE Conference - ADVICE that ROCKS!

I have just completed a fantastically busy
and rewarding week .

I ran the
HOOK an Editor With Your First Page - Workshop
+ afternoon Q and A chat sessions.

all for
The MUSE Online Writing Conference

This FREE Conference comes around once each year in early October.  It is a chance to take workshops in many aspects of writing for adults or children, book promotion, or pitch your book to an editor.  

The quality of the writing I saw this year was way up,
and I read and enjoyed some awesome first pages  -
 with great HOOKS.

What follows is one of the areas I talked about with the many talented
and dedicated writers who came daily to my workshops.
What to expec when you get a

I want to let you know what I do as a Professional Critiquer.  It is NOT my job to edit your writing.  If you want to write and publish books, you must come to it with a good knowledge of grammar and punctuation. And if it's been a few decades since you had your knuckles rapped in Ms Writeit's class, then take a refresher course in the basics.

A good edit should be provided by the publisher that accepts your book.  It is their job to give your plot and characters a final OK,  and to nit-pick your grammar and punctuation -

A profesional critique should happen before you send your manuscript to the publisher, or before you self-publish.  My job entails nit-picking plot weaknesses and limp characters.  It means nagging you about the need to FOCUS on what is important, and leave those WAFFLES on the breakfast table.  We provide a clean-up crew for weak verbs and constantly repeated words.  A professional critique might suggest you tighten, tighten, tighten your writing - and should offer copious examples on how to do this.  They also vacuum up weak words, and suggest you find stronger and more evocative and powerful alternatives.

A good critique will head off that dreaded side-track, offer a viable alternative, and suggest ways to polish and perfect your writing voice, and the voice of your main POV.  We answer questions support and encourage. All you, the writer  has to do, is provide the basic writing  knowledge mentioned above, talent, staying power, and then write, write, write.  A little LUCK is simply a wild card we all hope will fall into our laps.

A critique, whether professional or private, offers comments, suggestions, and examples for you to consider when you rewrite.  Bottom line: This is YOUR baby.  Others can advise and suggest, but the final choices about what to cut and what to leave are YOURS. As you gain confidence and experience, these decisions become far easier.

Joining a private Critique Group is also a terrific idea, no matter what you write or how you publish.  Networking among other writers, having their fresh view of your chapters, picking their brains, and sharing writing knowledge can only make your writing stronger, richer, and more polished.  These critiques are FREE, so is is wise to let your crit group run through your chapters before you spend hard earned cash on a professional review.  The more suggestions, comments and examples your book needs, the longer it will take a professional to do -  and her time is YOUR money.

A word of caution. When you look for a private group to read your MS, or someone as a crit partner, make sure they write the same genre as yourself. Each genre, from children's books to erotic fantasy have their own particular needs and quirks. Only someone who writes and publishes in a similar genre to yours can really offer helpful and accurate feedback. If you do form a group, make sure there are some advanced or published members. This avoids the blind-leading-the-blind into complete confusion!

I have been with my critique group for 10 years. I can honestly say that I would never have been published without their feedback and great support.



  1. I love the people in my critique groups, both those I've been in before and am in now. How would any of us manage to improve our writing without each other to help?

  2. That is so true Janet. How writers expect to become published without the help and fresh eyes of a crit group is beyond me.

    Margot Finke

    Books - Manuscript Critiques