I have to say I found the in person, real live group much more helpful. We all gave honest critiques and helpful feedback of each other’s manuscripts (at least I hope we all did). I joined the critique group not only to see how my writing compared to others, if my plot flowed, etc. However, I joined so I wouldn’t be living in my little writers shell, hunched over my laptop keeping more stories to myself. After all, sharing my writing will prove that I am a terrible writer and that everything I write is pure crap…right. Isn’t that what all writers think?
I was horrified when I received my first professional critique. It came back with red writing all over it, which reminded me of seventh grade essays; I shoved the manuscript back into its folder and shut it up in a drawer. I said to myself, never again…I will never again share. I realize that the only way I am going to grow and become a better writer is by sharing. I have to share with professional writers, not my family who will say they love my work (even if it stinks). I am chalking that first manuscript up to the “shitty first draft” as Anne LaMott calls it. That “shitty first draft” is now out of the drawer, I am rewriting it, keeping true to my character, and myself – I am just writing her story.
As for the critique group? They gave me some simple ideas (things I should have known) to tighten up my story. I have to bring it back next time – and it HAS to be better!
By the way if you are looking for some help on your young adult or middle grade novel you need to check out "Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies" by Deborah Halverson. If you haven't already read "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott - add it to your reading list.