Blessings or Brutality?

I took a break today from doing final revisions on a novel and picked up a little writing book called Some Writers Deserve to Starve! (31 Brutal Truths About the Publishing Industry) by Elaura Niles. I don’t find the chapters very brutal–just honest. And I agree with nearly all of them.

If you’ve been writing any length of time at all, chapters like “Putting Words on a Page Does Not Obligate Anyone to Read Them,” “All Publishers Are Not Created Equal,” and “Writing Conferences Cost Bucks” will resonate with you! Frankly, I expect there is a great deal of truth in all 31 of Ms. Niles’ chapters, but I have been spared a lot of it.

What About This One?

Two of the author’s brutal truth chapters are “Writers Rarely Help Other Writers” and “Not All Critique Groups Are Critique Groups.” Because I’ve seen what she described over the years in various groups [that didn't work for me], I believe she is right much of the time. But it also reminded me how wonderfully blessed I am to have a writer friend who DOES help me.

From time to time, I trade manuscripts with a writer friend in Australia. Her thoughtful responses in the detailed critiques have been very helpful in many areas: strengthening endings, picking up loose plot threads I had inadvertently dropped, telling me which chapters dragged, etc. I’m grateful for her honesty–which is NOT brutal.

How About You?

What has been YOUR experience with critiques and critique groups? Have they been helpful–or not so much? Is the advice good–or in such conflict that you don’t know what to believe? Give me your thoughts.

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2 Responses to Blessings or Brutality?

  1. Susie Jerez says:

    I am a total beginner and very interested in becoming an author of Children’s Literature. I’ve completed my first draft for a Picture Book and would love to move into the Critique Group review phase of the process but don’t know where to start. I’m lucky enough to work in Downtown San Francisco and I’m sure there are tons of great options. What would you recommend I look for and look out for? I appreciate your feedback :)

    • kwpadmin says:

      I’m afraid I don’t know about the critique group possibilities in CA, but I would suggest joining (as an associate unpublished member) of SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.) You will find the information at They have critique groups all over the country. Good luck!

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