One of the reasons you haven't heard much from me lately is that I've been spending every second of my free time (some of my friends are laughing at those last three words) editing my romance novel manuscript. Last week, I finally got the first three chapters to the point where I felt I could send it to the head of my writers group, the Grammar Divas and my readers for review and comment.
After editing a manuscript for so long, a writer can become what I call blind – unable to step back and see what needs to be done to make the manuscript better. That's where having readers, a critique partner and/or a writers group you trust comes in handy. Having other sets of eyes, from different perspectives, take a look at your work is invaluable to making your manuscript the best it can be.
There are many benefits to having a critique partner. A critique partner – usually another writer – can look at your manuscript with an editor's eye (an objective point of view) and lovingly point out the flaws both in your story and your writing. For example, they can point out areas where you may have repetitions of effect, pointless dialogue, dialogue that is too dense, characters that are too good to be true, or scenes that don't move the story along. They can also identify passages that need to be cut or modified. These passages may be beautifully written and grammatically correct, but nonetheless need to be excised or modified in the interests of flow, plot, story or pace. As painful as it may be to hear that your “baby” needs more work after all the time and effort you may have already put into it, your novel will turn out even better in the long run.
The benefits of being a member of a writers group are endless. Some of them include making new friends, being able to discuss your work with other writers, the ability to meet new critique partners, being able to assist with editing other members' manuscripts, and having buddies to write with both during events like Scriptfrenzy and Nanowrimo and throughout the year. You can also share new ideas and information about writing contests, information and opportunities.
I want to thank the head of my writers group for taking the time to review and discuss my romance novel manuscript with me. I also want to thank one of my readers for giving me some detailed insight (even if she did wake me up at 8:30a.m. on a Saturday morning to do it). They both let know me what worked and what didn't. They also gave me some great ideas for making my story more compelling. I know that my book will be that much better for it.