Why you need a critique group, partner, beta reader, editor, SOMEONE ELSE to read your work before you publish or query… And how to find a critique partner, group, or beta reader.
I call it the Kandinsky effect, but really, it’s about your personal lens, you know, how you view the world from YOUR perspective.
Why the Kandinsky effect? Because Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) was an abstract artist, in fact, he was the first guy to paint an abstract art painting. Kind of a big deal in the world of art. Outside of the world of art not a lot of people know his name, the big fish/small pond type of thing. Now, I haven’t taken an art class since high school. I don’t consider myself an artist, but I love art museums. I go regularly and I just assumed everyone else did, too. So, imagine my surprise when I wrote that the hero’s t-shirt looked like a Kandinsky littered with forest debris and none of my beta-readers, critique group, or editor knew what the hell I meant by Kandinsky.
I was flabbergasted.
Surely, EVERYONE knows what I know because, let’s face it, I’m not a genius.
But they don’t.
In fact, I know a bunch of random stuff. I’m not into Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, but there’s a lot of people who know stuff I don’t know, and if I didn’t get feedback on my writing, I’d never know which stuff isn’t “common knowledge”. If you choose to leave your Kandinsky’s in your work, you’re limiting who your audience is because some readers will PUT THE BOOK DOWN. And that’s fine, if your intention is to write for a niche group of readers, but if you want a larger audience you NEED critique partners, or an editor, to point out those little Kandinsky’s in your work.
- A caveat to this is don’t over-explain either. I love hockey romance stories, but I don’t want the game rules explained. I might not know what a hat-trick is, but I know that it’s a good thing and to bog the story down with details slows the pace and I’d put the book down.
As it stands now, this is my new, revised paragraph and I’ve added context and kept my Kandinsky because my heroine knows who Kandinsky is, it’s part of her POV, and I hope it works. Let me know if you think it needs more context 🙂
You know that feeling you get watching #epicfail videos—like this will not end well and I should be doing something more productive with my time… as soon as I see what happens next. On a side note, why are there so many bad drivers in Russia, and why do they document and share their stupidity? I digress. Frequently. My eyes flicked between the body of my father, fragile, bruised, and muddy, to the back of a filthy t-shirt stretched across shoulders worthy of the Titan god, Atlas. Roman gladiators would beg for those shoulders. He was Goliath to Michelangelo’s David. His shirt was painted in mud, leaves, and possibly spiderwebs like an abstract painting. Maybe a Jackson Pollock or a Kandinsky?
Where to find critique partners, beta readers, and people willing to help.
I found mine through local writing groups, RWA, on-line writing groups, friends, and on-line classes. My FAVORITE on-line class was on synopsis writing with Suzanne Purvis through Margie Lawson’s Writing Academy. She’s teaching it again this September and if you have trouble with writing synopses, or you want to plot out your book before you write it, this class is amazing. Not only will you get Suzanne’s feedback, but the other class members, too and it’s invaluable. Here’s the link to sign up (and no, I’m not getting paid for this, I just really, really, really loved this class.) https://www.margielawson.com/product/sept-2018-the-sizzling-scintillating-synopsis/