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I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What's Your Method? Critique Group or 'Ideal Reader'?

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

My interview with Margo earlier this week generated an interesting discussion on what method she used to revise her novel. One of my followers, Gila Green, asked if Margo was part of a writing group or if she used Stephen King's 'ideal reader' (IR) method of writing and revising her work.

I must admit that I had to look up what Gila was talking about concerning Stephen King. I know, I know, I'm really out of the loop on this one. I did know that he'd written a memoir a few years ago, but I never really paid much attention beyond that. I had my reasons. First, I don't read Stephen King except in excerpts. Before you gasp in horror and turn away you have to understand something. While I greatly admire him as a writer, I honestly can't read his books. They scare me! and I like being able to sleep without nightmares. I have a very vivid imagination. Second, I am leery of books written by celebrities, even writing ones. That said, I did find a great link to an article on Stephen King's memoir On Writing. It was a guest review post on Jane Friedman's blog written by Jason Kong. Here's the link: The Stephen King Guide to Marketing.

The post raises some interesting ideas on marketing and how writing and marketing aren't mutually exclusive. This is a topic that I discuss quite often with one of my critique groups. I am actively involved with two critique groups. One for each novel I'm in the process of revising and rewriting. Did I mention I get easily bored? Well I do. That means that I am constantly working on more than one thing at a time. Anyway, one of my critique groups I meet with in person and one I 'meet' with online. We exchange chapters and give each other feedback on them once a month. I love being part of my critique groups. Being able to exchange ideas and get someone's take on what I've written from people I trust is invaluable to me. But in an age where social media and self-marketing your work grows more crucial everyday, my critique partners and I constantly question the importance of platform. Some still believe that building a platform even before publication is crucial for writers. Others feel that investing too much time in this can lessen the quality of your work because it means less time spent writing.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

The article I listed above, by Jason Kong, did bring up several interesting points about author Stephen King's writing method (King's IR is his wife, Tabitha). The one that resonated with me is that when you sit down to write you always have an audience in mind. Sometimes that audience evolves as the story does. But ultimately, you are writing that story for someone. It may be that one IR or it may be a whole group i.e. middle graders or young adults, or mystery suspense lovers. Either way this audience is who you are selling that story too. In other words, you are marketing that book even as you write it, even if unconsciously.

So how about you? What is your method? Are you part of a writing or critique group or do you write for one trusted 'ideal reader' (IR) and why does either work best for you?


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing that, Rhonda. I wish I had an ideal reader. My daughter will get into a story if I ask her to read the first few chapters, but she doesn't go back to it once she has to stop. I think part of it is reading it on the computer. She still prefers to hold a book in her hands, so it doesn't seem like a real story reading a draft on the computer.

  2. I have read ON WRITING, btw, and it is excellent. I don't read Stephen King either because he scares me, too. But really admire him and his book is the best book on writing I've ever read. That said, I didn't realize or forgot that Tabitha was his IR. I cannot imagine my husband being my IR, although I write children's books. I do know some YA authors that use teens to help them get things right like texting, slang, teen attitude, etc. I think this all depends on what you are writing and what you need help with?