Getting Critiqued

Last week I had a new experience that, as many new experiences are, was both thrilling and terrifying.  No, I did not get to ride a new roller coaster at Cedar Point.  (In fact, due to my interesting condition, I was reduced to the Ferris wheel and Sky Ride this summer.)

No, I’m talking about having someone who is not related to me read my writing.

Several months ago, a fellow blogger was running a Kickstarter to fund her trip to a writer’s conference in Iceland.  One of the perks she offered was a critique of the first chapter of the donor’s WIP.  This sounded like a perfect opportunity for me to get some feedback on the draft of a fantasy novel I started for NaNoWriMo last year.

I was so elated when I won NaNo last year, I figured I would be able to channel that energy into a second draft this year.  However, when I started re-reading what I’d written, I really started hating it.  It did not seem at all like the story I’d had in my head.  The prose made me cringe, and the tone was all wrong.  I didn’t want to look at it, much less edit it.

So I figured I should really take this opportunity to get a fresh opinion in the hopes it would give me some direction for where to go next.  I didn’t really end up having any anxiety over it at all.  I already knew there were things wrong with my text, so I was actually eager for someone to tell me what exactly was wrong so I could fix it!

And that’s exactly what happened.  Sara wrote me a nice list of comments with her first impressions, things she was confused about, etc.  The most important comment she gave me was that my very first scene lacked tension.  There was nothing to hook the reader in, and nothing to foreshadow the larger conflicts of the later story.

She also mentioned a lack of visual cues for worldbuilding.  Although I implied a setting based on ancient Rome, I gave no physical descriptions of characters, buildings, etc.

As far as the writing, one of my goals is to re-read some of my favorite historical fantasies by Guy Gavriel Kay, who is kind of my “model” author for this story as it was heavily inspired by his works.

So this first chapter critique turned out to be a good experience for me.  I definitely feel more inspired and up to the task of revising my story now.  Letting others read your writing is always difficult, but hopefully it will get easier with time and practice.


7 thoughts on “Getting Critiqued

  1. NovEllaandBanannabelle August 27, 2017 / 2:52 pm

    That’s great you’re inspired to revise your story – getting an outside critique is always a harrowing process. Best of luck with the revisions.

    And congratulations to you and your husband!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. saraletourneau August 29, 2017 / 11:07 am

    (*blushes*) I’m just glad that you found my feedback helpful. I actually find it a bit harrowing to be on either side of the critique; I enjoy helping writers improve their stories (and getting a sneak peek at them before the rest of the reading world does), but I’m hyper-aware of saying something that could hurt the writer’s feelings. So I’m happy (and relieved) that this was a positive and encouraging experience for you, and I wish you the best as you work on G&G’s revisions. 🙂

    Also, congratulations to you and your husband!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei August 31, 2017 / 11:38 pm

      Thank you!
      It does sound difficult to walk the line between honest and harsh. Do you think reviewing others helps with your own writing?

      Liked by 1 person

      • saraletourneau September 1, 2017 / 12:10 pm

        You’re welcome! 🙂

        I’ve always had a critical eye for stories, whether it’s reading a book or beta-reading another writer’s manuscript. It does help with my own writing… maybe too well, though. Let’s just say I’m my own toughest critic. :S

        Liked by 1 person

  3. GeekyNerdyGirl September 9, 2017 / 3:26 pm

    First of all, I had no idea that you won NaNo last year!! That’s awesome!!

    Second, if you ever want another outside perspective, I’d be happy to provide it! Granted, I’m an editor, not a formal writer, but I’ve been reviewing more fiction through my freelance work and am having a lot of fun getting outside of my non-fiction/government wheelhouse!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei September 9, 2017 / 8:47 pm

      Oh, I’m sure I will need an editor’s perspective, too. If I ever make through my second draft, I’ll send it over to you! That’s so great that you can have a little fun by doing freelancing with fiction.


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