Can I Ask a Question?

Yeah I know, I already DID ask a question. And since by continuing to read you’ve effectively answered yes, I’m going to ask more questions, this time without requesting permission. The author flexes his rhetorical muscles, the charming innocence of the uncluttered mind. 

Joynell Schultz has posted a tw0 part series on how to solicit feedback for one’s writing. She describes a number of options, even those she does not pursue for her own work, and offers practical advice for writers who haven’t experienced the anxious joy of having their work critiqued.

For myself, I’ve participated in a number of peer reviews as a technical writer, both as reviewer and author, and have taken the core rules to heart — as the reader you are to critique the writing not the writer, and as the author you  focus on the analysis rather than the emotion with which it is conveyed.  But with fiction, I haven’t participated in peer reviews since my college days, far too many years in the past — and now that I have complete drafts of stories and seven chapters for my novel on this blog, it’s time for me to show what I’ve accomplished to a larger group of readers.

Which leads, finally, to my questions — what techniques do you employ to solicit feedback on your writing? Do you use online resources, or engage with in-person peer reviews? If you use a combination of both, what have you found to be the advantages and disadvantages of each? Have you asked your family and/or friends to review your work, and have they offered analysis that wasn’t provided by online or peer reviewers? In your experience, do fellow writers make better reviewers than actively engaged readers who don’t write on their own? Have you ever paid for a reader or editor, and did you feel that was money well spent?

That’s a bunch of questions I just asked, and I appreciate you reading through them. Please leave me a comment with any insight or experience you have with soliciting readers for your work.

2 thoughts on “Can I Ask a Question?

  1. I have beta readers. These are trusted friends that have some knowledge of writing and a passion for reading. These people read, check for plot holes, ask questions (like, did he really mean to do that?) and, of course, catch those pesky typos that slipped my notice. Usually they are spot on and find what I miss. I fix things accordingly, and edit once more before publication. Now, if the manuscript was a mess, I might return it to my betas after another edit just to be sure I fixed everything. I don’t feel comfortable putting my work put in an open forum with people I haven’t known for long.

  2. I have had experience of being part of writing groups and also a wonderful manuscript type inter-action where six of us around the country every second month would send our chapter in the manuscript folder and critique the other five as they put their pages in the folder. We were all working on very different types of writing but it did give each of us the opportunity of reading and truthfully critiquing others. It did not always work to my advantage as article writers for eg do not understand the passion of imagination in fiction. On the whole though I did learn a lot and it was through these I was encouraged to finish my first novel and yes I did then post the whole away and paid for a professional opinion. Thankfully what I initially laid out has come back with the gentle trickle of income in past couple of years. I will never be famous, I will never sell a million books – in fact I will never earn much money but the important thing should be more than all of this my name is being known and one day even in the distant future when I am no longer around someone somewhere will know I once was a passionate writer of historical fiction. Sincerely I hope my legacy will be someone perhaps even many ‘enjoyed what I wrote’
    All the Best to all who write.!

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