Having your writing critiqued by others can be a nerve-racking experience. You must sit quietly while the people around the table read your work and then discuss it like you’re not there. Although the process might be difficult to go through the end result is worth it. They are able to see things you missed or present a better way of saying something that you would never have thought of.
I recently had the first chapter of my novel critiqued by my writers’ group. I nervously sat as they went through my writing. I don’t always change everything the group might suggest. There are times when the way I wrote something is my voice and I leave it as is. Other times I am surprised by things they suggest that I know will make my writing better.
As they were critiquing my story one of the members asked if it was fiction or non-fiction. He asked this because of the descriptions I used. The group all agreed they really felt they were in the place I was describing.That made me feel good. One thing I learned early was that if your fiction story takes place in a real location you must be true to that location.
My story takes place in Niarobi, Kenya. I have never been there, but someday someone who has actually been to Niarobi might read my book and say, “I remember seeing that.” It took a lot of research to be able to describe what my character saw when she arrived. It was worth it to get the reaction I did from the group. At times I thought maybe I was using too much detail, but my fellow writers convinced me the details were just right.
I usually wait a couple days before reading what was written about my work. The anxiety has subsided by then and I can read their comments with an open mind. In this recent case they pointed out some sentences which could be written stronger and a paragraph that needed some work. This is great because from their critique my writing can become better.
No matter what you are writing have people read your work who you trust will give you an honest critique. It’s great to hear that your writing is good. It’s also very helpful to hear where you can improve. As writers we are learning all the time how to become better. Critique groups are one way you can become a better writer.