January Insecure Writers Support Group Topic of the Month

The first Wednesday of the month, the Insecure Writers Support Group hosts a sharing of blog posts. The Group generates a question to stimulate bloggers’ thoughts about the insecurities of writing.

Below is a link to others who are possibly participating this month.


I participated years ago. It’s a new year, a great time to start fresh.

The writing prompt question this month is:

January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

Here is an answer:

I receive stories from young writers who want me to give feedback about a story idea. I experience frustration because I can’t tell if the story idea is good. The story idea might be good but I can’t tell because the draft is too raw. I find it hard to give feedback because the quality of the draft I’m given is so poor.

When you’re just getting started, you don’t know what you don’t know. I’ve learned more in the last year about writing than I’d learned in all the previous years. I would be embarrassed to trot out today any of the stories I wrote before this year.

I write this to say I understand where those young writers are. I am empathetic. I wish I knew how to encourage them and still give them the feedback they need.

I wish they understood how much easier it would be for me to give them feedback if they would spend some time cleaning up their draft. I can’t tell if a story idea is good if I can’t see past the poor quality of the draft.


9 thoughts on “January Insecure Writers Support Group Topic of the Month

  1. Sounds like they need to do the work, just like we all do. Practice, practice, practice. Read up on the craft, get critique partners. It’s a process.

    Happy New Year!


  2. Tough spot for sure, Larry! I think honest is best. I’d likely tell them that their draft is a good starting point, but it needs more work before it can be evaluated effectively. Then I’d suggest having critique partners review a revised draft before summiting anywhere else. If I could see anything positive about the draft, I’d mention that as encouragement or something to focus on. Wishing you lots of success with your writing in 2021!


  3. As a reviewer, I have been given books that I wondered if anyone had edited at all. There was a vampire story that I could see that the author had poured her heart and soul into, and I felt terrible giving it a two-star review because she seemed like such a nice person, but this already published tale was convoluted and hardly readable.
    The story switched between character perspectives and even between first and third-person perspectives so often that I had no idea what was going on. I suggested that the author have the story professionally edited because while the concept was interesting, the book in its current form was too confusing to be enjoyable. I also stated that I hoped she would keep writing (which I meant) because she did have raw talent.
    Then there was a story that was nothing but dialogue–really, really awful dialogue. That book got one star although I politely suggested that the author should work on scene-building to improve the manuscript. I really felt like that book was a NaNoWriMo project that the author, for reasons unknown, thought was acceptable in its current form. Reading the book literally gave me a headache.


  4. I’ve been in that position before. I really try when I do critiques to trade with people who are at about the same level as I am. It’s also important that I really like their writing, so it’s not hard to think of good things to say as well as bad.
    But I’ve seen the kind of errors you’re talking about in published fiction as well. Definitely makes me want to stop reading–although in that case, it’s probably the editor’s fault.


  5. Everyone has their own learning curve… We can only help out with small nudges.
    Happy New Year!


  6. It’s hard to give feedback to people just starting out. When I judged contests, I always strived to do the sandwich model, with two good things and one critical thing. It wasn’t always possible.


  7. A friend once told me that if I can verbally express what my story idea is, and it’s still compelling, then it’s a good story. If I cannot explain it myself in actual words, or if I fumble and confuse myself, then I haven’t really thought it through. I’ve always taken this to heart.

    And, a “good story” idea is subjective anyway. Some people love raunchy romances and zombies. I may not consider these stories as “good” simply because I don’t like those genres. When this happens, I excuse myself from critiquing. And it’s happened to me too, where an editor told me she only edits HEA romance stories and nothing else, because that’s what she likes to read. She didn’t want to cheat me by giving me feedback on my fantasy novel since she doesn’t read fantasy. I loved that about her.


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