When I started writing in 4th grade, I wish I had gotten advice and constructive critiques from another writer.
The one person I would show my stuff to at the time wasn’t that helpful to me. If the story was bad she would tell me that it was “crap” or say that I was a hack. She didn’t tell me what I could have done better. I lost confidence in myself as a writer. I was just starting out, and it felt like I tripped and fell on a bed of nails. (Thankfully said person doesn’t say these things anymore, and now gives constructive feedback.)
It wasn’t until I went to my first writing workshop at “The Log Cabin Literary Center” that I learned about what kind of criticism is OK. And that is constructive criticism. Constructive criticism in writing is saying what you liked or didn’t like about the story, and how the story could be better. All while being polite.
At these Novel Writing classes I got some of the best advice I’d ever gotten. It was a plus that I was writing alongside fellow writers, and we all helped each other with dissecting our tales.
The problem with going to the Cabin was that it was in Downtown Boise. And I live on the other side of town. I did some research to try and find writer’s groups close to my house. Couldn’t find a single one.
So I looked at online Writer’s Workshops and Groups. Well, sadly most of these groups charge expensive membership fees. In an era of Facebook, Google, and Twitter there should be a free group to join.
That all changed when I found the Critters Writer’s Workshop.
The Workshop is run by Sci-fi author Andrew Burt in 1995. Back then it was run by private servers. Now it’s public, and any writer, of any age, of any genre (And writers of any kind of manuscript. E.g, Poetry, Screenplays, Comic Books, and even artists!) can join.
But as with everything there’s a catch: you are required to help other writers by giving constructive criticism on the stories they submit.
Now reflecting back on 4th Grade, I wish I had fellow authors around to give me advice, and tell me what I could improve on in my writing. I didn’t and still don’t need someone to tell me how much of a piece of crap my writing style is. I need someone who is willing to help me improve and not someone to cut me down to size.
I feel I need to give back. Who knows, maybe the next person I help will become the next Stephen King? We will never know that if we rip apart aspiring writers. They need to not be scared to write because their afraid of what people think.
They need the confidence to keep forging ahead, and prove all the naysayers wrong.
As for people who have critiqued part of my book on the site, I’ve gotten some great advice to improve my book. They were polite, and said what they think could be done to make the story smooth. And one of those people is currently reading my whole book! And I can’t wait to get more good tips!
I only had four people check out the first part. But hey, that’s OK. At least I’m getting help. And I’ll keep giving back to newbie writers.