I've excused myself from critiquing this week as I've been critiquing more than writing, and this week is getting strained with obligations as it is. I've followed only the bare minimum of blogs. But I found a good blog post you writers should read (especially those in my writing groups, you know who you are!)
Author Jennifer Hubbard (writerjenn) posted an interesting blog on how much materials you should have fellow group members critique. Interesting, because I've had the same concerns: if you send only a few pages, you end up focusing on things like grammar and sentence structure, and if you look at the entire project you focus on large scope issues like plotting and character development and pacing.
She also points out that she never exchanges rough copies. She makes sure she has thoroughly edited and reviewed the work.
I think these are two entirely different kinds of critiques. If the first three chapters are wandering and hard to get into, if they are vague or the characters are unlikeable, if the conflict is not even hinted at, don't you want to know this before you write 250 more pages? If the tense or point of view doesn't work, don't you want to know this early on?
And yet, I think maybe the whole manuscript thing is important also. Chapters may be brilliant on their own, but not fit together as a whole. Pacing of a scene may work well, but not in context. It important that characters develop over the course of the work, that subplots intertwine with the main plot. Symbolism should be carried through. Themes developed.
But the thought of all these great writers I know sending me 300 pages of brilliant writing??? I'm feeling faint and overwhelmed at the suggestion!
And yet... intrigued. What think you?