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Do I need a crique group or an editor first?

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I was wondering  - should I be looking for an editor or a critique group first? Once a manuscript is complete and ready to go to the next step, should it first be edited professionally before I look for a critque group?

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#1 - August 06, 2014, 11:11 PM
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When you say finished, what do you mean? Is it your first draft? Have you revised it once or more?

Once it's been revised from a first draft, (first drafts always are piles of steaming :poo) and is bright and shiny, it's ready for critique partners. Then more revisions. As many as it takes to make it sparkle. At this point I get a beta reader to look at the big picture and light any plot holes or boring bits. Then more revisions.

Seeing a pattern here? ;)

A professional editor is far down the road.
#2 - August 07, 2014, 05:57 AM
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I agree with Wendy--critique group first! Don't waste money on a professional editor at this stage.
#3 - August 07, 2014, 06:04 AM
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I definitely agree with Wendy and Donna. A good critique group will help you see your writing/manuscript differently. And YOUR critique of their work will be just as important. You'll begin to see everything differently.

This is a long process, truthfully. For instance, once you have a firm grasp on pov (point of view), then somebody's going to mention characterization. The next thing might be the arc in the chapter vs the novel. Then somebody's going to ask where your inciting incident is, and if you've begun the story in the right place. The levels of storytelling are many, and I don't think we ever stop learning. And it begins all over again (well, not completely - we do retain some lessons!) with the next novel.

Be patient with yourself, and with others. And, for sure, look for a crit group!!!

#4 - August 07, 2014, 06:15 AM

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Thanks all. My definition of "finished" is - I revised it a few times, two adults reviewed it, one a writer (though not of children's books) and one a reader (though not of children's books) My other beta readers were kids who gave me great reviews, but they all know me and like me so their opinions may be biased :-)

I thought that was enough, but realize now how important an unbiased critique is. I'm getting some perspective on what I need to do next.


#5 - August 07, 2014, 11:55 PM
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You will want your critique group to be made up of people who write the same kind of work you do, in general. They should be people who are not your friends and family, although sometimes friends and family can work if they are also writers. (And they'll often *become* friends along the way.) At least one or two of those critique partners should be people who are farther along in the journey than you. Let's say you write middle grade. Can your non-writer friends or your child readers give you feedback about whether you're writing in a true MG voice? Can they ask you to define your first and second plot points, and your midpoint? Are they well enough versed in what's being published in MG to know if your book fits today's market? Probably not -- even if they were English majors or are English teachers, frankly.

And your critique of their work will teach you a lot, too. When you start exchanging critiques with other writers, you are only *beginning* down the long road of revision to the point where you can query agents or editors (at which point you'll be in for a whole new level of revision). Besides all this, your critique group becomes one of your support groups along this long road, and that's so very valuable, too.

#6 - August 08, 2014, 04:59 AM
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Thanks, Marcia, that makes sense. Yes, my current "critique group" is made up of friends and family who are very supportive, but not unbiased or knowledgeable about children's books.

I wish I had joined this group sooner, but better late than never! I'm just starting to realize how much I don't know about writing!
#7 - August 08, 2014, 11:12 PM
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