Update 7/28/11 The Winner of the free critique from End Results is L. Blankenship. Please contact Amberly Smith at email@example.com to collect your prize.
Our guest blogger today is Amberly Smith. She manages the End Results critique service for CBC-RWA, the Boise Chapter of RWA. Read on to find out how to win a free critique from the Gem State Writers.
My mom says it’s the best thing she’s ever read.
Agents and editors have read this in query letters for years and cringed. The author doesn’t realize how inadequate such an assessment is. Unless you’re mom is senior editor of Penguin don’t take her word for it. So how do we get helpful feedback that doesn’t make us curse all men named Bob, burn the manuscript or quit? Yes, we want the positives; we even need them to better understand our strengths but we need to know what isn’t working even more.
You ever watch American Idol and wonder why the falsetto soprano singing an anthem to Michael Jackson ever thought they could sing? Someone who didn’t understand writing, I mean singing, told them they sounded good. Most likely someone who loves them and wants them to succeed. That initial feedback from those we trust is great because it keeps us going and encourages us to write more. But it doesn’t make us better writers.
When we are ready for feedback that will make us stretch and grow, where should we look?
There are critique groups, other writers on different or same levels, who have different strengths. In such groups, it takes time to get to a point where we feel comfortable enough and know each other well enough to give honest and constructive feedback. We can also enter contests that offer score sheets and feedback. Another option are manuscript editorial services. The good ones are done by retired or former editors or agents and charge by the word. And there is End Results. More on that in a minute.
What do we gain from reading other people’s writing?
A finished book off the store shelf provides entertainment. But it is awfully hard to learn from good fiction. Dwight V. Swain in Techniques of the Selling Writer says “Art conceals art, in writing as elsewhere. The skill of a skilled writer tricks you into thinking that there is no skill.” (pg. 6) It’s that feeling you get when you watch figure skating and start imagining yourself in sequins. They make it look effortless. Instead we need to read other would-be-authors, incomplete work or even just bad writing, so we can see the structure and effort. We know what doesn’t work and quickly we can identify why it doesn’t. Then we go back to our own work and realize that we do some of those same things. There is still the problem of trees for the forest but it’s easier and we learn and grow by reading others. Bob Mayer is fond of saying you learn more from reading bad fiction than good.
As a chapter of Romance Writers of America, Coeur du Bois wanted to raise funds for conferences. We considered different options. Anyone who has coordinated a contest knows the scheduling headache it can be. Anyone who has participated in a contest knows that by the time you get the feedback you have already rewritten that opening or moved onto another project. So we decided no contests. As a chapter we had successfully raised money other ways but they often had little to nothing to do with writing. So we created End Results which has a great price, quick turnaround, multiple pro status readers giving feedback and gives us opportunities to grow as writers as well as helping advance the skills of those we critique.
But why choose us?
CBC has the highest ratio of Golden Heart finalists to actual members of any chapter, like by a lot. We joke that it’s something in the water but really it’s a great chapter sharing hard earned skills. Our score sheet is supportive, detailed and covers everything from point of view to pacing.
What about genre? I write YA.
So does several chapter members as well as historicals, mysteries, paranormals, sci-fi and even erotica. But no matter the genre, we are still readers and your story will still need good pacing, well developed characters and an interesting plot.
Gem State agreed to let me chat up End Results and a new idea we had. We’re getting the word out about our critique service by running ads in the RWR. But as another way of letting people know about this great opportunity, we are offering published authors a discount on an End Results critique to offer as a prize on their website. Authors do promo and contests on their website to drum up traffic and to announce their next releases but what to give as a prize? Chocolate, which can melt in shipping? Why not for the fans and readers that are also writers, give an End Results away?
The authors on Gem State are blazing the path and have purchased an End Results critique for one lucky commenter. Tell us what you write and what you’ve learned from reading other people’s writing and you’re entered to win an End Results fiction critique, a twenty-five dollar value. But great feedback is priceless. It’s all about the End Results .
Amberly lives in the Northwest with her husband, two children, mother-in-law, and a cat named Cat. She has a bachelor’s in communications and likes to read in bed, lurk in bookstores, and cuddle on the couch with her. Check out her website www.amberlysmith.com and her books with Dreamspinnerpress.com.