The value of critiquing the work of others

My writer’s club holds one meeting a month devoted to critiquing the work of fellow members. The process is good for the writer, of course, but it’s also valuable for those who participate.

During this week’s meeting, a writer submitted four chapters, one of which was a long internal dialogue. Along with several others, I flagged this as a data dump that interrupted the flow of the story. Some of it, I said, could be shown rather than told. (You remember that piece of advice.)

In the process, however, I realized that my book makes too little use of the technique. There are times when Alan Rudberg needs to think to himself and puzzle things out. He too often depends on the reader to intuit what’s happening.

Some of this is good. It involves the reader in the story and keeps him guessing. But too much of it loses him, making him conscious of the writing rather than the story.

In short, by discovering another writer’s overuse of a technique, I uncovered an opportunity to improve my own story. If you’re not in a writer’s club, I recommend joining one. If you can’t find one in your neighborhood, there are dozens of virtual writer’s clubs online.

Happy writing!

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