Anybody interested in a reading exchange?
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We're all swamped, I know that. I'm hoping to be ready for a next full read very soon. These are tough to set up. They involve a ton of time and they have to be the right exchange--you know, if you're writing something direct and your partner's stuff is oblique, you can't help them very much. Or if they're all about word flow and you need help with structure, etc. It can take a long time and a lot of false starts to find someone similar enough in style and with enough critiquing depth, and it can take a lot of time to give your partner what they need. Still, oh, my heavens, when it's right, what a gift for your project. A fresh, wise read and critique from someone who understands your style, etc. An ally across the country who is writing something fabulous that you've helped midwife even a little bit. If anybody here is interested, let me know. For the record: I think my strengths as a critiquer lean towards stucture and making sure the overarching tension and internal scene tensions are there. And probably character, to make sure those are fully-formed. I'm not bad on dialogue and where scenes should begin and end, that kind of thing. I will never be able to find your typos.
  • I'm recovering from foot surgery, (can't walk) and after that, will have to dig out of eight weeks of family mess plus that left over from the foot surgery last spring (well, I do have two feet, after all).

    However, when i recover, I will try to organize us into an exchange. I think we have some critical mass here.


  • I think I've been writing in a bubble!  I never considered a reading exchange.  What a great thing!  I'm great with finding typos and if something is off.  However, typically long reads scare  But a chapter here and there?  I'm in!!

  • I totally would love that. I do have a soft spot for science fiction and young adult fiction but any fiction or memoir-esque literature. My work is mostly scifi, as well. 

  • You're welcome, Nya. we'll be here when you're ready. For now, do keep on chugging through. I think the difference between success as a writer and failure is that discpline to keep on going. Sara
  • Thanks Sara for your response. I agree with so much of what you have written here.With my current novel, I have been very "keep it to myself" until recently when I shared it with two readers that are personal people in my life just to get a feel for it what they thought about it. I don't feel Im ready to share it with others outside of that intimate circle as I know that I myself haven't even went back to reread it (discipline to keep moving forward with the story). Thank you for your reply. I really appreciate its confirmation. 


  • Hmm. I think reading exchanges are terrific but if I were in a naked draft stage, I would approach them carefully. In fact, if I were teaching writing, I think I would want to teach not just about giving but about getting a critique, things like:

    1) know your critiquer. As soon as possible, get a sense for who they are, what they know, what they like. Not just in writing--you may not get a good read for erotica from a literary novelist, but you might also get a bad one from somebody uptight about sex (pun intended.) You may hand your story about leaving an abusive relationship to someone who did that long ago and can't stand to think about it again, or to someone who remembers the process with compassion and is thrilled to see it documented. You may hand your fresh baby over to someone who needs to prove that they know language, and thus will pick apart your word choices when what you need to fix is character arc, or to someone who can sinply tell you when they are enthralled and when they are confused and what they remember from before they got confused, or to someone who can pinpoint the exact weakness of your story structure, and suddenly, with either of the latter two, enlightenment dawns and you know what to do next.

    It can take time to figure out which critiquer is strong in which sense and where are they weak--and we are all some of both. Its hard to do this whether the person critiquing is online or in person, though in person, you can get a better sense of each other both as reader and writer. I have never physically met one of my very best ever critiquers, who I found through this website, but I also had quite a few who, though kind and well-intentioned, were not right for me, and I know that I have not been right for some I have critiqued.

    Even in my weekly physical critique group that has met now for two-three years, there can still be times we have to untangle threads, calmly sit and say, I need something else from you. I ragged about subtext on one of my fellow writers until she was ready to quit, then apologized up the yahoo for pushing her too hard, then watched her come in two weeks later with a brilliant opening scene that symbolically laid out the subtext for her entire novel, writing on a whole different level from before. Now we both know that a) she will get furious with my notes sometimes so b) I should back off and c) when she gets really mad at me, it means she needs to go chew on my note until it becomes something inside her because d) I'm often pushing her the right way but e) I don't know everything and anyway, it's not my genre.

    Especially when something's raw and new, I'd suggest being a little armored. Put it out there, but be prepared to negate the feedback you are getting if it shuts you down. The worst kind of critiquing is that which shuts us down, and yet, the problem with the critique process is that what shuts me down might make you fly. Or vice versa.

    Which is why, so far, I am afraid to teach. Because the first rule of writing is to keep doing it no matter what. Do not stop. Do not get disheartened. Make sure to collect 200 every time you pass go. Especially make sure you have plenty of get out of jail passes beside you at all times.

  • I'd be interested in doing a reading exchange, but I wonder, at what point in the writing process does everyone share with others? Im still in draft one, unedited and basically a reading exchange is that that taken in account? Just curious. 

  • I seem to be very late to this discussion but I would be interested in this exchange. Time is of the essesnce, yes, but having others critique work is a help, not a hinderance :)

  • Might be you and me from here, Dianne. I think we can start another group for this. Are you writing genre or literary? Let me know.
  • Dear Dianne, I would love to. Do you know how to start another group? If nobody else is interested here. . . Sara