|Did Poe ever have these problems?|
- If you're part of a writer's group that critiques mostly shorter works, have no fear! Give them the novel in installments. In addition to making you feel as posh as Charles Dicken's himself, this method focuses more on line edits and specific mechanics within the chapters that they're looking at. If it's been a long time since they've seen the last segment, start with a preamble, such as, "When we last left Timmy..." to catch the reader up.
- But you need a method to look at a larger structure, right? Like where are the bumps in the plotting and such. I've found that individual readers really are the best ways to catch this. Most people refer to them as "Beta Readers", which for the life of me I cannot figure out how to pronounce. Where to find these readers? Individual people at your writer's group, the person sitting next to you at the writer's conference or other bloggers are all great resources for individual critiques. Just ask them if they'd be willing to critique the whole thing, and be sure to mention that you're willing to return the favor.
- Try some writer's exercises. I normally don't have the patience to read anything that doesn't have a plot. Thus, writer's self-help books normally sit in neat little piles on my bedside table where they look nice but will never be read. There are a couple of exceptions. Second Sight by Cheryl Klein, has a list of post rough draft editing exercises. Sometimes, it helps me look at the manuscript from a different angle. So if you're feeling stuck with editing, these can be a good bet.
Well, that's some of my thoughts. What are your methods for critiquing a novel?