Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Insecure Writer and Critiques

Today is March's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me most insecure as a writer this month? Something which I’m sure you all can relate to. Critiques of my first chapter just arrived in my Inbox.

My very first critiques.


It’s not the first time someone has read this chapter. I let both my wife and daughter read them before I sent them out to my shiny new CPs, but neither my wife nor daughter have any experience with writing and I knew they’d say nice things no matter what I wrote. But taking the words you’ve sweated over for months and sending them to complete strangers, people who actually know something about writing fiction, can be a wee bit intimidating.

Fortunately, both CPs had some good things to say about my chapter. They also pointed out plenty of errors as well, which are fixable, along with suggestions which I think will make it a better chapter. However – and you knew there had to be a however, right? – one of them mentioned something that took me by surprise.

You see, in this opening chapter, I tried to show that the MC is a nice guy who is disorganized and easily walked over by others. (I did all this by showing instead of telling by the way, a fact of which I’m proud.) Unfortunately, one of the CPs came away with the impression that my MC was lazy, messy, mean, and a liar. Someone she found unsympathetic.


Worried, I read back through the chapter and, sure enough, I saw her point. Without knowing his backstory the way I did, it was easy to construe his actions in a way I hadn’t intended. Since I knew his backstory, his actions made sense to me, but the reader wouldn’t understand any of this until they had gotten deeper into the story. Definitely time for some editing!

I’ve scarcely begun the journey to being a writer and I already know the importance of critique partners.

Does any remember their first critiques?


  1. Oh yes. I remember mine. Haha. Lets just say I'm lucky she stuck around :)

    But we've grown together and now, at least I hope, its not nearly as painful or as much work as the first MS was :) haha

  2. I remember mine well, as there's been only one. It was excellent, and served the dual purpose of making me realise that I'm not ready to give up yet :-)