You’ve probably heard the expression that it’s all about the writing. It’s true. You could have the most fantastic premise, fabulous plot twists, and a great line-up of characters, but if your writing is full of grammatical mistakes, POV slips, and telling instead of showing, the rejection letters are still going to pile up. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read a query, loved the story concept, and couldn’t wait to read it, only to pull up the submitted first fifty pages to find that the writing wasn’t ready for publication yet. I’m so disappointed every time.
Whenever we receive a submission like this–one that simply isn’t ready yet–we always recommend that the author utilize a good critique group to help polish the manuscript. It is a tried and true method that Phyllis and I have both used. As a matter of fact, we initially met through an on-line critique group. Let’s face it; it’s always easier to find mistakes in someone else’s writing than in our own. So why not put that principle to work in our favor?
The definition of a good critique group will vary from person to person, depending on your needs at the time. For most pre-published authors, it’s a good idea to have a mix of people with different writing skill levels. Everyone has something to offer–even reader feedback can be very valuable–and everyone learns from each other. You can even learn from reviewing critiques others do on someone else’s manuscript.
There are many places you can go to find critique groups, but here are some we have used ourselves. Please feel free to comment and mention other places that offer great critique groups.
ChristianWriters.com – Membership is free.
FaithWriters.com – Offers both free and paid memberships.
American Christian Fiction Writers – Paid membership
Scribophile.com – Membership is free.
So if you’re not already a member of a critique group, hop on the bandwagon. Even if you’re already in a great group, check out the websites anyway. Each has their own variety of resources and a wonderful people ready to help you polish your novel.