I know that things can really get rough,
When you go it alone.
Don’t go thinking you gotta be tough,
And bleed like a stone.
The Shins: Simple Song
Allowing someone to read what you’ve written is like dancing naked on the table in front of them. Those wise words were shared with me the first time I asked someone to read my work. And boy, did that describe the knot I’d folded myself into over the intrusion. But not only did I learn from the experience, it liberated me.
You can’t do anything in a vacuum, writing included. But allowing people to read your work without offering feedback will not make it stronger, it will just make it more read. If you want to become a better writer, share your work with people who read your genre and who want to offer you their perspective. They are called Beta readers and they will help you. But before your find Beta readers, get a critique partner or two.
Critique partners are fellow writers, not necessarily from your genre, who are talented, dedicated, and honest. It’s helpful to have someone who can tell you when the plot’s getting a little crazy, your dialogue patterns are inconsistent, or that you’ve left your fourteenth dangling participle on page 5. (or that you’ve totally abused the Oxford comma.)
I am fortune enough to have three types of critique families. The first consists of my CP’s. We found each other through an online class. They offer the perfect balance of honesty, compassion, valuable insight, and friendship. And they have mad writing skills. Secondly, I belong to a local writing group that meets once a month. Our numbers limit the amount we can review for each other, but they are bloodhounds when it comes to missed commas, cliches, and other travesties. And I also have an uber third group who serve as beta reader/critique hybrids.
Surround yourself with good people and be a good partner. And don’t be scared to dance naked…figuratively, that is.
You need a CP? Look around. Twitter, http://howaboutwecp.tumblr.com , join writing organizations like SCBWI.org (The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), RWA.org (Romance Writers of America) among many others. Also, you can join groups on Facebook, Goodreads and Agent Query Connect.