Sunday, December 14th, 2014 | Author:


Of late I’ve been having a number of people read my Behind the Shadows manuscript and oh my! it’s an excruciating process. Waiting for their opinions sets me on an emotional rollercoaster ride, a seesaw, a knife-edge of anticipation and dread… one moment I think the story is great, the next a load of you-know-what, and it all depends on the last comment I received. And I’ve been thinking… maybe it’s not the best idea to get people I know to read my works-in-progress. Maybe knowing my readers colours my interpretation of their comments. And maybe knowing me colours the sorts of things my current readers say.

It’s with these thoughts in mind that I’ve decided to sign up for a number of online writing critique groups.

Most online critique groups seem to operate in much the same way: you earn points for critiquing the work of others, and the more points you have, the more of your own work you can post to be critiqued. There are of course guidelines for how you critique the work of others, but mostly it’s an exercise in good communication. We aspiring writers are all deeply emotionally invested in our tales and we yearn for constructive criticism rather than insensitive attacks on our abilities. And after having some nasty experiences with hyper-competitive, brutal ‘critters’ early on in my writing life, I’ve tended to shy away from critique groups. But thus far, I’ve found the ones I’ve joined recently to be really useful. Scribophile especially has made a great first impression on me. The site itself is beautifully organised, with lots of helpful features for new members, and you can earn ‘karma points’ not only by reviewing work, but also by writing reviews that the recipient ticks off as being ‘insightful’, ‘constructive’, ‘thoughtful’ and so on. So you’re rewarded for the quality as well as the quantity of your critiques. I’m really hoping that having perfect strangers read Wolves will help me resolve some of the issues that are still bugging me.

I’d just like to single out two of my recent readers whose comments have really meant a lot to me. My dear sister-in-law, who with Lazar also went through the break-up of Yugoslavia, said of my story that she couldn’t believe it was written by an Australian, that parts of it were like reading her own memories! And Brett, fellow writer and fellow expat in China, is currently trawling through my typos and sending me regular questions about anything that doesn’t make sense in my manuscript, thereby helping me clarify my thoughts. So thanks Marina and Brett! I’m looking forward to one day being able to thank you in the published version of Shadows!

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