If you are writing with the intent of publishing, you obviously have a target market in mind. If it’s YA or horror or romance, you have an idea of your readership’s likes and dislikes as you probably read similar books.
I am a fan of peer based critiques sites, the ones where you publish parts of your book and other new, aspiring and published authors give their opinion on the structure, plot and pace of the story.
It beats the friends and family routine hands down as these reviews are for the most part honest and often very helpful. They do come at a cost though and there in lies the danger.
Only you know the full extent of your plot and the following advice has been learnt the hard way so here it is.
Never listen to the solitary voice in the wilderness. If you are going to offer your masterpiece up for critique I recommend doing the following and I’ll explain why in a moment.
Always finish your book or short story first. Don’t hand out snippets of an uncompleted book. An integral part of your plot may make no sense in the absence of later chapters and characters may seem undeveloped. The temptation to give out snippets is huge for a new writer as you want to know what others think of your work.
Not everyone can write and not every writer can finish a book and even fewer ever receive public acclaim. Everyone is however a fully qualified critic and each one has an opinion, you know the old addage about opinions and assholes.
The danger is that you will take heed of too much advice and public opinion will begin to shape your story. Again, you can’t please everyone all the time. Write for yourself and the vision in your head.
Accept that some people won’t like or ‘get’ what you are trying to do, no matter how you redraft your work. Always finish first and then listen to the CONSTRUCTIVE critique. The ones that suggest fewer adverbs, advice on perspective and problems with plot and pace.
Wait till a few people make the same suggestion before hacking away at your story. Dont change your entire plot based on the advice of a single person and don’t allow individuals to dictate the story line. Take a complete draft and send it to people you know enjoy reading the genre you have written.
Honest advice is a helpful tool for new authors but remember it’s not easy to find. I have a book I am in the process of completing and for those interested in seeing how opinions can vary, you can follow the link below to see the various reviews and critiques it has received over the last few weeks.
It will give you an excellent overview of how the process works and you may even be tempted to expose your writing to peer based critiques. Always keep in mind though that bitterness has no equal amongst spurned writers.