No one is the best judge of their own work. This bit of advice is widely accepted as common knowledge. So if that is true, then why do authors insist that they don’t need to seek criticism.
There is nothing so satisfying as finishing a piece of writing. You sit back from the keyboard and take a big sigh of relief. Congratulations the easy part is now done! (“Easy?” you respond!) Now you have a rough draft. You love it; of course you do. But if you ever want to get published; then you want others to love it too. In order for that to happen, you need to refine your writing. One of the best ways to do this is to get peer review.
There are many ways to accomplish this:
Give it to several friends you trust. How do you know which friend to choose? Pick the ones who are always ticking you off for telling you the things you don’t want to hear but need to hear. Give it to the friends who are honest with you. Give them a red pen and tell them to be brutal. Everyone has a friend like that. Ask them to write down anything that does not make sense, or was boring, or didn’t seem to forward the story.
Then when that is done, make those changes and graduate to part 2. Join a critique group. These groups are invaluable. Strangers aren’t afraid to tell you what is or is not working in your writing. And on the flip side, you will be required to do the same for others. Look at the writing of others and see for yourself what isn’t working for them. Then find those mistakes in your own work.
“Great, I’m done!”, you say. Not even close. Once you have gotten your reviews, rewrite your work with those changes in mind. Once that is done, stick it up again for critique and repeat the process of refining.
Now Step 3 has arrived. “Step 3?” you shout in frustration. Yes. Hire a professional freelance editor. They offer many types of services. The key is to find a good editor. What makes a good editor? A good editor will read your work and check it for proofreading mistakes. They edit lines, and they will edit for content, flow, and continuity. A good editor has experience in the industry. Ask them questions about where they have worked and what experience they have. Get opinions of other editors. Then refine your work based on their comments.
Now Let your manuscript sit for a while then read it again. How does it sound. If you have done this, it’s most likely not even the same story. It has taken on a life of its own, and is a better story for it.
Most famous authors use and recommend critique groups. Even Stephen King uses peer review. Ursula K. LeGuin uses a writing circle under a pen name.
Below are some great critique groups that can help you with your writing style. Many of these sites have forums, articles on writing, interviews from famous authors, and many new writing contacts and friends just waiting for you to reach out and make friends with them.
5 Helpful Writing Groups