I've been reading the archives of a blog by the anonymous, Authoress. At her widely popular blog, Miss Snark's First Victim, Authoress cultivates a positive and helpful community for writers. Somehow, I arrived late on the scene to this blog, but I absolutely love it. I enjoy reading the monthly Secret Agent Contests in which writers may submit the first 250 words of their completed manuscript for critique by other writers and by one anonymous agent whose identity is revealed at the end of the contest.
The benefit to those who would offer their helpful, non-snarky, critiques in one of these contests is an increased ability to quickly see what works and what doesn't in those opening paragraphs. Do I care about the character? Do I know what they want? Am I firmly grounded in the story? Do I get a sense of the conflict--both internal and external? It's like drinking through the firehose of critique groups. Reading the critiques posted by others in the writing community also provides an interesting perspective.
This month, I decided to jump right in and enter my middle grade fantasy in the contest and my number was drawn. Head on over with the link and see how the contest goes. It's fun to make predictions about which manuscripts are most likely to be requested by the agent. There are some really good ones in this round.
How does reading other writers' work with the purpose of giving an honest and helpful critque help your own writing?