Posts Tagged ‘critiques’

Yesterday’s post engendered some questions about getting feedback on our writing; specifically, How? More specifically, in the absence of an editor or agent, “…where does the average person seeking to improve their writing find honest and unrestrained critical feedback for their writing?”

First, let’s dispel a myth. Editors and agents don’t give you advice on how to improve as a writer. Sorry. They don’t.

Some agents (like the one I had) don’t give any constructive advice at all, but merely give you their impression of the marketability of an already completed work. Some agents are savvy enough to help a writer polish a work-in-progress, but from all the anecdotal evidence I’ve heard, they’re rare. They’re marketers, not editors.

And editors are generally only going to provide feedback on a particular work, the one they have contracted to bring to market. An editor will help you make a book you’ve written better, which may help you become a better writer, but the goal is to make the book better, not to make you a better writer. It may sound like a subtle distinction, but it isn’t.

In short, both agents and editors are focused on a single, finished work, only appear in a writer’s life after s/he has achieved a certain level of competence, and are not in the business of bringing a writer’s chops up to professional levels. After Book One, they may provide input or advice on Book Two, but they still aren’t going to tell you how to write, much less how to write well.

So, where does that leave a budding writer? (more…)

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