Last night I attended the SCBWIWWA "Great Critique". This is a free event designed to get writers together in a small group. Bonus: each group is facilitated by a published professional. Essentially, seven strangers sit in a circle and take turns sharing five pages of their work.You read your own work aloud (EEP!) and then listen and take notes while the folks in your group offer criticism, including your facilitator.
You guys, I am still standing!
In fact, it was a great experience. I was terrified going in, but the folks in my group were both smart and kind. I genuinely enjoyed each piece that was shared and felt like the criticism offered to each writer was helpful and appropriate. I got the sense that others were satisfied as well.
The best part was that I was truly able to see The One the Empress Hunts with fresh eyes. There are some important changes I need to make, but overall it holds together well. It engages folks. The question, of course, is whether it will ever excite the right agent and/or editor.
Take Away: Share my work with strangers/professionals more often. Fresh eyes are essential!