My final comments on editing (for now anyway!) are about writing/critique groups/partners. Unfortunately I think groups do have a shelf-life. People’s circumstances change: they move or move on, change jobs and a hundred other things, but while they are working they are worth their weight in gold.
The first writing group I was a part of started from a writing course. We were relatively new to writing seriously, and at that time we were all concentrating on short stories. We met regularly for a couple of years then due to pressure of work and family life we were down one, but carried on meeting for another couple of years.
Over the years I’ve met other people through workshops, conferences etc and some of those have become casual feedback partners via email. By casual I mean we request feedback on some writing when we need it, rather than on a regular basis.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts I attended an Advanced Course last year through the CreativeHub and our group decided to keep on submitting writing to each other for critique after the course finished, and we meet once a month. When I started meeting with the group I had completed Lives Interrupted, and had a request for a full manuscript from a publisher that eventually led to a rejection with some feedback.
At that point I wasn’t sure where to go next with Lives Interrupted. I had some concerns over one of the plot lines and was ignoring my instincts that it wasn’t strong enough. One of the first things the group did was to confirm my instincts. I cut out that particular plot line, and in that way I was able to look at how the remaining story lines could be enhanced and the characters deepened. The group have also pointed out things that I hadn’t noticed. When you are deep in your own plot and characters it can be difficult to step back and see things as a reader.
If you're interested in how critique groups can work here is a link to a previous post.