By Cheri Chesley
Last week, I was finally able to attend a session with my LUW chapter’s critique group. It. Was. Amazing. I can’t even tell you how wonderful it was to have them tell me what was wrong with my first chapter.
I know that sounds strange. But, really, I mean it. My chapter was missing some key points that only someone with fresh eyes (and no history of the characters) would notice. Essentially, if this book gets published and is sitting on a shelf and some person picks it up—would they find it interesting, or would they just be confused?
Right now, one of the books I’m reading is book 3 in THE SISTERS GRIMM series. Within the first chapter in both books 2 and 3, the author spends almost three pages revisiting the history of the characters. I realize this series is for a younger audience, but it seems ridiculous to me to spend so much time on reminding the reader about what’s happened before.
I’m really happy to have my critique group, because they pointed out to me that, in my book—the second of a trilogy—there is no history at all. This left most of them confused about what the action was all about. The other thing was that they had no sense of setting, which is an issue for me. They knew the action was happening inside a castle, but what are the characters wearing, what does the room look like, etc—all a mystery.
Fortunately, I left room in that first chapter to make additions like these.
So, do you have a critique group? How often do you meet? Or do you critique each other via email? I’m curious to know how other authors make it work.