A Fresh Pair of Eyes Can Make a Huge Difference

I have the wonderful good fortune of belonging to the same critique group for something like sixteen years now. For those of you who don’t know what is, a critique group is, they’re a group of writers who meet regularly and offer feedback on each other’s work. It’s a great way to have someone read your work and catch mistakes before submitting, in my case to my editor.
Turns out, it’s both a blessing and a curse to always have the same people critique your work. On the one hand, we are each others’ dearest friends and staunchest support group. I can count on these ladies to be, sometimes brutally, honest with their comments, which I often need. I tend to see my books through rose colored glasses. I can also count on their really insightful feedback. I’m a better writer because of them. On the other hand, we are so used to each other, we can forget to give praise, fail to be sensitive when it’s needed, and take each other a little for granted.

I recently became involved in an online group which included critiquing. I thought, what the heck and decided to give it a try. The idea of submitting my chapters to a group of fresh eyes was pretty intimidating, and I found myself pouring over my pages with a fine tooth comb before turning them in. Much more than normally. And you know what happened? I worked a little harder and, I think, improved my writing. Here are some of the areas I focused on:

Deeper POV
Choosing more powerful words
Better/more powerful scene endings
Trimming excess words
Watching for passive voice
Trimming narrative and/or putting it in dialogue instead
Make narrative really interesting
Improve pacing
I hate thinking I may have gotten lazy over the years, but now I’m convinced I did. Yeah, having new people read my chapters was really intimidating. I ate my emotions and bit off all my nails. But the rewards were so worth it. These people’s fresh perspectives enabled me to look at my writing in a new way and make some small changes. I’m even thinking of taking the plunge again.


  1. I've been fortunate over the years to have had some very good critique groups. A couple of times I worried when all of the writers weren't writing in the same sub-genre, or even same genre. But it turned out that writers read almost everything well, and I felt blessed to have some really great feedback.

  2. It sounds like a very good idea.

  3. I've been in a couple of critique groups and your comments made me smile, especially about sensitivity. As a writer, I sometimes think we need rhinoceros hides.

  4. Excellent points Cathy! I'm glad the new group is helping. I used to belong to some critique groups through online chapters but let them slide years ago to work with just 1 small group. I recently started exchanging chapters with a new critique partner and it has been amazing. You are so right about fresh eyes!

  5. Thanks for all the good reminders about the value of fresh eyes. And what to look for. I've had great critique groups and partners over the years. So appreciated.

  6. our mind can play tricks on us when we read our own writing, fresh eyes are always a bonus.

  7. Having fresh eyes on your writing must be a little like a first date. You dress a little more carefully and try a little harder because you want to make a good impression. Was critiquing for different writers just as nerve-wracking?

    1. Beth, you hit the nail on the head. Very much like a first (blind) date. And, yes, it was interesting critiquing for new people. I had to really pay attention to what I was saying, endeavor to be constructive rather than destructive.


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