Lesson Three: Working with a Critique group or Keeping your Voice

OK, so you’ve let go of those scenes you loved because they no longer work for you in the new improved version of your story…wasn’t so painful was it? 🙂

Now let’s look at working with a critique group and maintaining your voice.
Two types of reactions by writers stand out in my mind when I have given a requested critique.
There is the “oh yes, BUT….” response which is code for “I am not going to change a thing.”

Fine, it is their work but WHY did they ask for an opinion if they are closed to all suggestions?

The second reaction I am very familiar with cos it was me… “change it all, do EVERYTHING they suggest cos surely they know best”.

This isn’t a wise thing to do either.

So the answer lies somewhere in between.

I have learned to use a critique to discuss conflict and motivation. They are great to brainstorm with when you’re lacking direction. BUT your choice of words is your VOICE. And your voice is you. It is the thing that makes you stand out. Don’t let a critique sanitize that or let their voice creep in. And if you have a critique group then five people’s voices can creep in.

In June last year I got a phone call from an editor who liked how I wrote but she said ‘your voice seems to disappear now and then.’ What did that mean.

After rewriting the book I decided it was when I had taken on board some rewriting by a critique partner. Only problem was it was her voice sitting in those paragraphs not mine.

I also had the added issue of writing for a line that back in 1996 wasn’t available in the US. My partners said, ‘why do you need all that medical stuff, focus on the romance.’ The book got rejected and part of it said ‘readers want to have hands on medicine in these books.’ I knew that but I actively let my partners write it out of my book.

I learned a long, hard , slow way. I gave away all my power as a writer. I have now reclaimed it

Writing in isolation can be hard and I love having someone to brainstorm with and I really recommend that.

But in your quest of ‘publish or perish’ don’t do what I did…don’t sacrifice your voice to someone else’s opinions.

Enjoy your writing


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