Advice, Craft, Critique, Editing, Feedback, Fiction, Novel, Revision, Writing

With a little help from my friends

My self-confidence in some aspects of writing never falters. But some tasks so overwhelm me, I’d rather scrub my shower with a toothbrush than tackle them. Query letter writing was one of those. The latest is composing the back cover blurb.

First, I looked at my query letter and took a chunk out of that to transform into a blurb. With fingers flying, I whittled and expanded, clarified and obscured. After several versions, I thought I had a fairly decent start, and asked for feedback.

I couldn’t decide if I should give this group of writer friends credit by name or protect their anonymity, so I’ll just paraphrase their response. They said, “I like your blurb … but let’s change 80% of it.” You gotta laugh. I love these guys.

I know what I’m good at, and I’m not good at writing succinct and sizzling descriptions of this novel. I needed their input, and I’m grateful they generously gave it. After nearly two dozen group emails back and forth—Try this word. No, try this word.—this sucker is finally looking good.

When I first joined a critique group, I felt a little guilty getting feedback. If I needed help, my inner critic told me, I wasn’t a real writer. Because of her harping, I think I resisted some good advice early on. But now, I don’t have a problem acknowledging my writing weaknesses and seeking help for them.

I don’t write by committee, that’s a solo job, but when it comes to editing, I’d be stupid not to take advantage of other writers’ knowledge—especially when their strengths are my weaknesses. Each time I ask for their help, I learn something. My weaknesses grow weaker.

Your turn: Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Do you seek help from writer friends?


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