This morning I watched a mom being interviewed about her daughter's incarceration and trip to rehab. Every time she was asked a question about her daughter's behavior and whether or not it would change, the mom skirted the question by pointing out something someone else did wrong.
How are kids supposed to learn and improve, if the parent refuses to look at what needs work?
This applies to writers too. We birth our manuscripts after long labors. Our stories are our babies. It's hard to hear negative things about them, but we must. If we don't listen, we'll keep making the same mistakes. We need an outsider's opinion on our beloved creations.
I love my critique group. There are seven of us, and everyone brings something different to the table. When it's my turn to submit, I squirm, because if my story is trite, they will tell me. The feedback is not to be mean. We encourage and celebrate with each other too. But each member wants the others to grow, improve, and send out their best work. If I am submitting a manuscript to an agent or editor, you can be sure my critique group has seen it first.
So, manuscript mamas, who do you trust to lovingly tell you what needs work? A critique group? Beta readers? Your mother-in-law? How has your writing improved because of the criticism of others?