I realize this came from my mom but I found it better than a nice hug or a washcloth on your forehead when you're sick....well, almost as good. The words were very encouraging at any rate and I'd like to share them with you. Keep in mind that I have a couple of people reading the A Marriage of Necessity story as it unfolds and I send it to them a bit at a time as I complete the typing in. In an email from Mom, she wrote: I finished the last part you sent me and can hardly wait for more. I hope I am not rushing you. You know that I read a lot and not too many books move me like this one does. My friend and fellow author/illustrator Christina Janzen is also reading as I go and has been encouraging with a hand to the back (or maybe that's the crack of a whip I feel!). I chose these two as readers because I knew they would shoot me straight, tell me if it wasn't good.
...and that brings me to the point of this post... Always, always, always - no matter how much you think it might hurt the feelings of the author - always tell them the truth about their writing. Granted, they can agree to disagree with you and the rest of the world may agree with them that it is great and wonderful. We all have differing tastes. However, if it simply isn't working for you or it's confusing or just flat out stinky, you need to find a nice way and tell them. Co-writer Patrick Sipperly, Chris(tina) Janzen, and I have been part of the FaithWriters.com weekly challenge for some time now. Although we don't always submit, when we do, we usually zip our stories off to one another and ask for opinions/edits. My story Unwanted (included in my book Becoming...) ended up as an Editors Choice story and I have to give credit to a suggestion made by Pat that lead to a change in the first paragraph. His comment to me was something like this isn't doing it for me, how about blah, blah, blah. I took his comments to heart, made some changes and it is a very emotion-packed and compelling story. If you want to read that story, you can link from here: http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=42582 It's the 6th story from the bottom of my Challenge Articles.
Other times Pat or Chris will give suggestions and I will disagree. That's okay too. I'm sure they don't take everything I say and incorporate it. Still, these critiques and venues of constructive criticism are important, especially if you know those you have chosen into your critique circle are telling you the truth. Keep it real and it will not only be more helpful and appreciated but you'll probably find yourself on the inside scoop side of getting to read the author's work before anyone else.
Developing a group of writing/reading friends is a great way to have your work critiqued. There are also author's sites and groups where you can submit your work. Chris has used the critique circles of the FaithWriters.com site to have her work critiqued by others. WritersCritique.com (http://www.writerscritique.com/) is a site dedicated to helping authors find a secure way of having their work critiqued. They claim that, unlike other forums that offer public critiquing, they offer a more private and intimate service for members. I haven't used them but did find some additional interesting information on their site.
Writing.com, an online community for readers and writers, offers writers the ability to get a feel as to how readers will react to their work with a rating system. You may also showcase your work on Writing.com without receiving feedback, however, they feel that the constant exposure to opinion and constructive criticism can increase the quality of an author’s writing. They also state that an author may find reading and reviewing other members' items to further their own writing with new ideas, writing styles and topics.
OnceWritten.com offers a place to post short stories and poetry where others may comment/critique. One author also posted the following as places to put your work, though I have not checked them out: Scribd.com, Fictionpress.com, Booksie.com, Quizilla.com. Many of these places allow you to become a member for free.
So, whether you get feedback from friends and family or you desire the kudos of fellow authors, there are options. Just remember, turnabout is fair play and you should offer critiques in return but always make your words of encouragement real.