I held my breath and bit my lip as their comments came at me unexpectedly. My face warmed at their words. Were they serious?
I did my best to smile humbly. This was almost worse than criticism. They not only liked my story, they loved it. And they loved my “poetic descriptions.” Each time they began to read a quote from my work, I felt ready for their comments on how I could improve it. Instead, they said things like “truly amazing writing,” and “I was so caught up in the story, I forgot to look for errors.”
Really guys? Aw shucks…thank you. I actually rewrote that sentence four times, so I’m glad you liked it.
However, there were still plenty of red marks on my pages. I tend to get attached to certain phrasing or feel the need to explain details that are understood. They had suggestions for improvements, notes about awkward phrasing, and as one of the ladies put it, “Your descriptions are great, but this one is overkill.”
I took every thought to heart. This was truly a perfect balance and the epitome of constructive criticism. Enough praise to encourage me. Enough problems to keep me humble.
I am so grateful to have such a variety of fellow writers in my critique group. They are honest and polite, and everyone comes with a slightly different take on writing, grammar, and style.
This is why I was blown away at how they all raved about my most recent chapter. They are “hooked,” despite the many areas where my writing can improve. Among the sentences they enjoyed most were:
…The pounding of her heart methodically joined the pounding of horse hooves until they were of one accord…
…As he spoke, each flash of lightning revealed a little more truth, each snap of thunder cracked like a whip on her heart…
This is the first critique group I have been a part of, and I am actually surprised at how easy it is to take their criticism. Easier, almost, than taking their praises.
Essentially, their comments and suggestions have renewed my confidence in this particular story and in my ability to write it well. In addition, they all have their own compelling stories to share with me. I sense a mutual respect among everyone, regardless of writing background or abilities. It is going to be great to be a part of this group for the long haul, and I hope we will all be there for each other as we each embark on the steps to publication.