What do you do when you feel like you’ve given your WIP all you’ve got, but you don’t feel like it is good enough? You know something is missing or needs to be fixed, but you aren’t quite sure what.
Where do you turn to when you don’t know what more to do?
Do you have someone you can ask for help?
I firmly believe that every writer, myself included, needs help. There is only so much we know, and another person’s opinion can be invaluable. So, when you need somewhere to turn let’s give you some solid resources!
How to Get the Writing Help You Need
Get Writing Help by Reading
Books about the craft of writing are a great way to learn, but you can learn about writing from ANY book you read.
You can learn so much from reading. Good books and bad books can teach you what to do and what not to do. When you read, pay attention to what is working and what isn’t. Why does it work or not? How does it make you feel? Pay attention to the larger elements of story such as plot, character, setting, and theme. Look at the finer points too. Sentence structure, white space, punctuation.
If there is something specific you are struggling with in your WIP, read with that in mind.
If you are really reading for the purpose of getting writing help, don’t be afraid to underline the book. Fold your favorite pages to mark them. Write in the margins or an accompanying notebook. Don’t trust yourself to remember what you learned. Take notes! Make sure as you learn from what you read you have a system to internalize and use what you are learning in your own writing.
Get Writing Help from Family & Friends
If you know your family or friends will be supportive, they can be a great resource to get writing help. I am constantly bouncing ideas off my husband or emailing my mom a sample of my writing to get a bit of feedback or positive encouragement. It is so helpful to have someone act as a sounding board for all your crazy ideas. Someone to help you sift through them all to find the good ones. Sometimes all it takes is talking your idea through with somebody in order to figure out if it works or not. You could have these conversations with yourself, but it’s much more fun and effective to have someone you can talk to. Having someone to talk to about your ideas or struggles can also be a huge help when brainstorming or revising.
If you know your family or friends won’t be able to provide the encouragement and support you need, there are other ways to get feedback.
Get Help by Joining Critique Groups
If you don’t trust family and friends, I highly recommend joining a critique group. Heck, even if you do value the opinion of your family and friends, a critique group will be a whole new level of awesome-sauce. Some of your family and friends probably read enough to be able to form a valuable opinion about your writing, but there is nothing like the curated feedback of a group of writers. They get what you are doing because they do it too. If you have a sick dog, you aren’t going to take him to your family doctor. He might have the ability to make a correct diagnosis, but you know the best place for your dog is the vet. The best place for your story is a critique group.
Another benefit of being part of a critique group is that they help you write consistently. Critique groups typically meet or share writing on a regular basis. If you want to participate, you need to regularly have something to share. Which means you need to be writing on a regular basis. A critique group might be the right amount of pressure, the right kind of deadline you need to keep yourself writing.
Critique groups are also great when you are in the early rounds of revision but still want a second opinion. I personally believe it is never too early to seek feedback. Sometimes we need feedback in the early stages. We don’t want to spend countless hours developing a character or perfecting a scene only to have a beta reader or editor tell us to trash it. But it’s not feasible to hire an editor every time you want or need feedback. Enter critique groups. They exist for a reason!
Are you part of one?
Get Help by Using Beta Readers
Once your manuscript is looking more like it’s in its final stages, it might be time to show it to beta readers. Having beta readers is different than a critique group because they can get an overall feel of how your story is working start to finish. A critique group can help you along the way, figuring out how certain scenes work and answering questions about word choice and character development. A beta reader will look at the big picture and help you see how your story is working as a whole.
This is just as important as getting help along the way. Don’t skip out on the benefits of having beta readers look at your story. Besides, if they like it, you’ve already got a few fans and potential buyers once your book is on the market!
It’s possible to find beta readers who will read for free, but if it’s in your budget you might consider paying someone to do a professional beta read. If this interests you, I offer an affordable beta reading service.
Help is always available to those who ask for it. Don’t feel like you have to do everything by yourself. Don’t let yourself or your writing suffer because you don’t know something or because you’d like an opinion before you proceed.
Where will you go for help with your novel?