The Contest And Crit Chat

By Sharla Rae

This week our critique group met at our favorite Greek restaurant. Besides the good food, we had major business to take care, namely, deciding the top five finalists in our Piece of the Sky Contest.

We all brought our top picks with us, and it was immediately apparent, there’d be no blood-letting. Surprisingly, our choices were pretty much the same. Funny how that works sometimes, but hey, we’re readers too. We know what appeals to us just like everyone else.  

At first, I was a bit leery about running a contest, but I have to admit, that it was fun. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we decided to hold another one. The idea we came up with is out of the norm and will be hugely fun for all the participants. The prize is cool too! And no, I’m not going to tell you about it. You’ll have to check our blog for the official posting.

After choosing the five finalists, we shared a few personal tales. My favs were a real-life shark encounter and a story about a navy admiral putting the moves on one of my critique partners.

Next we shared some industry talk, and then we got down to the nitty-gritty part, critiquing our work. Each week we e-mail a chapter to each other so it can be read and critiqued before critique meetings. We critique using Track Changes in Word so that we can hand over or e-mail the critiques to each other. Sometimes we all contribute, sometimes only one or two us turns in work. This week we had one synopsis and one chapter. As usual, everyone took a turn suggesting changes, and asking questions.

Meeting in person allows us to brainstorm more effectively. We can be very vehement with ideas and opinions flying like machine gun bullets. We get mad, we get glad, and we laugh a lot. It’s never dull!   

No matter how heated the discussion or how touchy we might become over opinions of our stuff, we all know, deep down, that our partners really care about each other’s writing. Having them withhold their honest opinions and consequently having a novel be repeatedly rejected would be far worse than singed feelings. Not that we’re mean. We aren’t. We “all” give respectful, constructive criticism only and we’re mindful of the fact that when all is said and done, it’s the author’s story and only she gets to choose the final words.

Good news or bad, I leave the meeting with a new sense of purpose and the urge to go straight to my computer and start editing and writing. I love my storm-writer sisters. They are my best buds, great critics, and the best support group any writer could ever have. With us, one partner’s success is considered a win for the entire group.

Okay, I’ll step away from the podium now.

I’m revved for next week, when we’ll choose and announce the final winner to our Piece of the Sky Contest. And um, I have to rewrite the 1st chapter of my new WIP and let them have at it . . . again.

Can’t wait!

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