Okay, guys, I've got to tell you: I have found the absolutely best critique partner in a wonderful young woman, Shannon Hill. (Props to you girl!) I had been struggling for the past few weeks trying to self-edit my YA work, Finding My Escape when Shannon sent me an email on Absolute Write, asking if I would consider trading work. Boy, would I.
A few days ago, I opened the email from Shannon containing her critique of my first twenty pages. She had to love it, it was great, brilliant writing...or so I thought. When I opened the email, I was floored! She'd found some problems with my work. But that couldn't be. After all my family loved it.
Fighting back the tears (if you're reading this Shannon, just keep going), I downloaded the file and began to read the critique. It turned out that she really thought I had the bones of a good story, I was just leaving out something very important: description. (That and I had a little problem of using italics and elipses... every other paragrah.) My tears dried, and I became excited. Yes! Someone was finally being honest with me about my work.
Inspired, I began to make changes. Then I made a few more, and a few more, until finally, I'd finished re-editing the first 20 pages, which was, by now actually 25. Excited, and, with a little trepidation, I sent the pages back to her. About 24 hours later, I got a very animated email back from Shannon. She'd loved the changes and said so very enthusiastically. I was relieved to know that I didn't need to give up on writing (whew!), and now feel I have the amunition I need to finish my edit.
So what's the point of all this? I want to encourage all my fellow writers to please find a few critique partners that aren't connected with you in any way.
It's just like those early auditions of American Idol where the young hopeful is belting out a hideously off-key version of Proud Mary. The next scene is the family huddled outside the door. They think young hopeful is great, positive that inside the room is the next American Idol. The thing is, family and friends hear and see what they want to from us. Sometimes they can't even be honest with themselves about our shortcomings, much less with us. That's why it's important...no vital to find objective critiquers.
Since finding Shannon, not only am I able to look more objectively at my work when I'm editing, my new work reads better, too. So Shannon, if you're reading this, I just want to publicly say "Thank You!"