Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Crit groups....don't knock it until you've tried it!

I may sound like a broken record but I am a firm believer in the Crit Group and that if you ever want to succeed as a writer you need a group of people who will be honest with you about your work and not just tell you what they think you want to hear.

I have been exceptionally lucky that I have two groups of people who will do that for me. One group consists of Authors –in-Waiting like my self, who understand the trauma I go through trying to get a chapter from my head and on to the page and are able to talk me back from the edge when I loose all faith in my ability to spell my own name let alone write. The other group is a couple of friends who, between them, have known me for the majority of my life both at home and professionally and who are able to read my work objectively with red pens! (Seriously without one of them I would not have gotten through my English ‘A’ level because I cannot spell not for love nor money!!!)

I sent my current WIP (Work In Progress) to a couple of different people within my writing group and got loads of feed back. I decided to collate it all on to one main document using different colours for different peoples changes and you know what I found out? That not everyone sees that same mistakes. Granted they did catch loads of the same spelling mistakes (really I am not even joking my spelling sucks royally!) but they each caught errors that the others didn’t.

This to my mind goes to show that you really need a crit group or a few different people to go over your work because one person is never going to see everything and you want your work to be as perfect as you can get it if you want to succeed in getting the attention of an Editor.

I can honestly admit that my writing started off as almost juvenile really but with the help and support of my crit groups I have, I think anyway, become a better writing.Thats what we do for each other we support, advise and generally cheerlead (seriously we have some great routines!). It's not just about being human spell checkers. Even those of my crits who are not writers have supported me and given me the proverbial 'high five' when I have doubted myself. It's all part and parcel of what a crit group is.

With the advice and direction sometimes given without them even realising it, I have been able to hone my craft even more. Yep that’s right I said CRAFT…..'cause let’s be honest it is a craft, we may not use paint, clay or wood but we are creating pictures and moulding characters for your entertainment. It’s not easy getting the story out of your head and onto the page in way that takes the reader on a journey that gives them highs and lows, laughter and tears and ultimately leads them to the Happy Ever After moment that has them putting down your book with a smile on their on faces. It takes skill in your craft to be able to do that well.

Now as you may or may not know I write romance stories, yes I know you can stop laughing all those of you who know I am one of the least romantic people in the known world! But the romance I write isn’t really what you would call “traditional” its more of a fantasy world, where people turn into wolfs and tigers and bears and…….well it’s my fantasy world they can change into anything I want.

So in honour of my crit groups please find below the first little bit of my current WIP. Dedicated to the UCW girls and Tracy and Tasha……..without whom I would still be hiding my writing and pretending it's nothing more that silly scribbles!

Leashed by a Wolf - Chapter 1 – by Cherie Nicholls 

Leaning back in to the shadows Laney sipped her drink. She had been here an hour hiding in the shadows of the darkest corner in the bar. She had been planning tonight for a long time and nothing was going to ruin it.
The door opened and Heath walked in, the slow confident stride he had carried him over to the bar with a grace most catwalk models would be proud to have.
She had waited five years for this night, five long years of cold lonely nights. Taking another sip of her drink Laney slipped out of the chair and strolled up behind him.
She saw the second he caught her scent his spine went ridged and his shoulders tensed.
He opened his mouth to give her the lecture she knew he would deliver. She could hear him now “Laney-girl you know you shouldn’t be here. Who did you come with? How are you getting home? Does your daddy know you are here?”
The words she knew he would have delivered if they hadn’t caught in his throat as his gaze finally fell on her.
She was proud of the results an all day make-over session had achieved. Gone were the trainers, jeans and old t-shirt with a long forgotten band on it. Her short brown hair was feathered around her face framing it like a picture, or so her sister-in-law had said when she had finished working her magic. Her pale complexion was enhanced with make-up that highlighted her ice blue eyes; the only real colour was the cherry red staining on her lips.
Laney watched as Heath’s eyes stroked down her face to her body and the sinfully tight dress she had poured herself into. The dress was strapless, tight, short and slit up the right side almost to the waist. She watched him swallow hard, take a deep breath then growl low and deep.
“Evening Heath,” She smiled up at him. His eyes narrowed as he looked back into her eyes. Laney willed her legs not to tremble as he took a step closer to her.
“Do you have a coat?” He asked in a low whisper. Laney swallowed hard, she had expected interest, perhaps lust but he just seemed to be angry, really angry if the vain throbbing on the side of his temple was anything to go by.
“No.” Laney shook her head.
“Good, we are leaving now.” Heath took hold of her arm and started to pull her towards the doors. Laney was in shock until the night air hit her body. Finally she realised he was pulling her towards his car.
“Whoa buddy.” Laney dug her heels in, her four-inch heels not allowing her much stopping power.
Heath didn’t miss a beat as he swung around and unceremoniously threw her over his shoulder.
“Put me down!” Laney yelled as she tried to keep the skirt of her short dress covering her butt.
“You want down? Fine!” Heath said as he dropped her back on her feet.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Laney asked as she pulled her dress back into place. She let out a squeak as Heath dropped his leather jacket around her shoulders.
“Not a thing.” Heath pulled the collar of his jacket closed around her. Leaning down he looked into her eyes. “Who is he?” he asked softly.
Laney looked back; she could see the caged animal just under the surface.
“Who is who?” Laney was confused, this sure as hell wasn’t going as she had thought. Right about now Heath should be sweeping her into his arms and kissing her until she couldn’t remember her own name.
“The guy you got dressed up for. Who is he?” Heath asked.
“You think I got dressed up for some other guy?” Laney was confused, how could he think that? Surely he knew he was the only one she was interested in.
“I promise Laney I won’t hurt him I just want to talk to him.” Heath assured her.
Laney’s nerves hit her full force, what if he didn’t want her? Clearly he had to know she wanted him, had wanted him from the second he had moved into the area.
Taking a deep breath Laney decided it was now or never. Leaning just a few inches forwards she kissed him. Not a modest peek on the cheek she had given him in the past, but a full on no holds barred kiss of a woman who knew what she wanted and exactly how to get it.


  1. I firmly believe being a part of a group changed how seriously I took my writing.

  2. I couldn't agree more Crit groups rule and are essential if you want to get anywhere. And Cherie, I LOVE that story!

  3. @ Julia ! Its true, the crit groups give you so much confidence i think!
    @ Doris! Ah thanks doll.....just need to keep on with it!