While the water in the tea kettle sputtered away, I read Guy Bergstrom’s “Why critique groups MUST DIE.” In his blog post, Guy acknowledges three reasons critique groups need to die (there are actually four, but I’m not counting “Because I Said So” as a legitimate reason). The three reasons are: (1) finding the time to meet up, (2) the social problems of group editing, and (3) critique groups can’t handle the volume of what is being produced within the group — it boils down to quality of critique verses quantity of critique.
Essentially, Guy puts into words the frustrations most writers have when donning the critique group hat. Of course, a writer depends on excellent critique, which is why Guy does suggest hiring a professional editor. He is not the first writer to suggest this route. He is, however, the first writer to prompt me to action.
So what did I do? I stopped scouring meetup.com for a critique group and began a search for a professional editing service, that’s what. Thanks to the high-speed internet and google, I had Writer’s Digest 2nd Draft Critique Services open before my tea had steeped.
Although 2nd Draft offers a gambit of editing services (WD professionals critique everything from manuscripts to synopses), I needed an editor for a seven-page short story.
So, here’s how 2nd Draft Short Story Critique worked for me:
- Payment. I bought seven-pages worth of critique at four bucks per page. Did I pay those extra four bucks for the one sentence on the seventh page? Yes, I did.
- Confirmation and Instructions. Once I paid for my seven pages of critique, I received an email with my order confirmation number and instructions about the submission process.
- Submission. I created a new email to the address provided, using my order confirmation number as the subject. I included a brief message in the body of the email with my contact information, and most importantly, I ATTACHED MY STORY.
Simple, right? I’d finished sending my short story off for professional critique before I’d finished my cup of Earl Grey.
And then, I waited.
The 2nd Draft webpage claims to take between four to six weeks to get a critique back, and I suppose it could take up to that long depending on the length of a work, but my critique was in my inbox after THREE DAYS.
Now, I’m making it sound as if the three days went by as the batting of an eyelash, but they didn’t. In fact, by the time day three came around, I was considering giving up the creative writing profession to pursue a career in professional bon-bon eating and soap opera viewing (if there are such things). So, thank goodness that critique came back when it did!
The critique provided detailed pointers on how to improve my plot. For example, the critiquer clearly articulated that in order to increase my plot’s potential, I’d need to increase the emotional development of the story by strengthening the viewpoint or POV and I’d need to allow for more sensory descriptions between dialogue. The critiquer also let me know that my draft was well written, and had the potential to be a saleable story. That kind of feedback revs up the creative engine for revisions.
All in all, my experience using 2nd Draft Short Story Critique was easy, efficient and well worth the $30.41 from my pocket. What have your experiences of critique groups or professional editing services been like? Have you ever used 2nd Draft? If so, what did you think?