There are few things in life as astonishingly honest as a critique from a reader for the Romantic Novelists Association New Writer’s Scheme. For more info go to http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/index.php/join/new_writers_scheme
Ouch, I thought upon receiving it and reading through four pages of comments and corrections of technical mistakes. Then I saw the light. It’s balanced, and says some very positive things about my writing but also this is what I asked for. This is what part of being a member of the RNA New Writer’s Scheme is all about. I want someone to look at my writing and tell me openly and honestly where the strengths and weaknesses lie. I need someone to point out where there are holes in the plot or where something a character says doesn’t make sense. So having re-read the critique, and emotionally distanced myself from it, I was able to see that actually, the majority of it (circa 85%) made sense to me and I’m making the changes that I agree with accordingly. So to the reader out there – whoever you are (critiques are anonymous) – THANK YOU. A big thank you also to my own writing mentor; she knows who she is!
As an avid reader, it is easy to forget that writing is a craft. I think that the best writers are the ones who, when you read their book, make it look easy. The story flows effortlessly, the sense of place is strong, the characters are well rounded, the dialogue moves the story forward, they show don’t tell and not one thing on the page reverberates as wrong, or out of place etc.
However, just because they make it look easy, doesn’t mean it was easy. Blood, sweat and tears have probably been shed over the manuscript. They have probably picked it apart and put it back together a thousand times. They have most probably had some editorial advice on their book from their agent or editor at a publishing house. The best ones, I guess, learn to take that advice and use it to make their book better. It’s just that as a reader you don’t know about or see that part of the process.
As an aspiring author, I must remember that writing is a craft, something to be worked at. I must remember that I am still learning – and probably always will be. I must persevere, until my writing is the best it can be and until someone agrees with me that it’s worth publishing.
So, off to do some more reworking of the work in progress!
Happy Writing, Nikki