Tip of the Day: Oh, go ahead and order that pizza for dinner. Have you ever regretted ordering a pizza?
My online critique group has an opening and we've advertised for a writer to fill it. We posted messages describing the group on the SCBWI and Verla Kay message boards. The applications have been coming in steadily, along with the writers' backgrounds and writing samples.
I'm so impressed by the quality of the writing we're receiving. Surely this can't be representative of the slush pile. Aren't we always told things like 90% of the slush is unreadable? I want to read all the stories we're getting. I'm going to have a hard time picking a favorite. How do editors pick only a few of the books they receive for the handful of slots open in a publishing season?
I'm attributing it to the places we posted: SCBWI and Verla Kay's Blueboards. If a writer is serious enough to be looking for a critique group with defined deadlines and reading the message boards regularly ... maybe that winnows out a lot. Reading our high-quality applications has confirmed for me the value of putting "SCBWI member" on a query letter. I know some editors and agents have said that doesn't make a big difference to them, but I have now become a believer in it.
But I'm not an editor. I don't have to pick a manuscript with an eye to future sales figures. I want a critique partner. This is a great opportunity for me to think of what I'm looking for in a new critique partner.
And that's hard to say. The critter relationship develops over time. It takes a while to get in a groove with matching my critiquing style to someone's writing style and vice versa. If you needed a new critique partner right away, what would you look for?
This is what I've decided on:
-- someone with enthusiam. This is a novel writing group, and it takes a lot of enthusiam to see a novel through the long process.
-- someone with faith in himself or herself. Because you can't see through the long process without that either.
-- someone with discipline. Or else that novel will never get written.
I've noticed that these are all long-term attributes, which might be hard to spot in a writing sample. Can I read a writing sample and spot enthusiasm, faith, and discipline? Is anyone reading my writing looking for enthusiasm, faith, and discipline, proving I'd be great to work with in the long run? Oh, great, one more aspect of my writing for me to worry about!
-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer