One of the joys of writing is engaging with other writers. Late last year I joined the Canberra Speculative Fiction Group or CSFG. This is a bunch of dedicated spec fic writers mainly focused on sci-fi and fantasy. Each year they form a subGroup called the Novel Crit Group in which writers can proffer their work in progress for critiquing. I felt so emboldened that I joined this group and ended up being the first book critiqued for the year. That was a few weeks ago.
I was warned that it would be a robust affair and I heard all these stories about how bruising it could be. But I took the attitude that it would be a great opportunity to get some feedback from very critical minds who themselves are immersed in the genre I write in. It would also be a good opportunity to practice the dictum "One hundred percent commitment, zero percent attachment."
Well my resolve to remain detached was put under immediate pressure when the first critic began with the words, "I'm sorry I really wanted to be more positive." But actually there was real constructive feedback given by all the critics. I had to listen to all seven reports before I could respond. It became apparent that there were certain issues that were being reported by everyone. These I would have to heed. Others reflected personal biases, pet likes and dislikes. But overall it was great feedback. I learn't so much. And I know you always learn more when you have some skin in the game.
During the session which lasted for two and half hours we consumed a minor feast, drank some good wine and enjoyed a lot of banter in between critiques. It was very beneficial. It proved to me that when you all have the right attitude and don't take things too personal, when you can avoid seeing your work as something too precious, then you can grow and so does your work. I really recommend the exercise. Next week the boot will be on the other foot and I get a chance to critique someone else's work.
Dave O'Connor is an award winning designer of computer war games, a consultant to the military in the simulation space, an expert in artificial intelligence and now author of the Warner's World series of sci-fi books. He is probably best known as President of Panther Games and designer of the Command Ops computer wargame series. He lives in Canberra, Australia, with his wife Joy. He has two adult children.
Warp Drive Publishing
is a division of
Panther Games Pty Ltd
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We are located in Canberra, Australia.