Those who braved a chilly January evening last week to attend the monthly meeting of the West Sussex Writers' Club were treated to a motivating talk given by Barbara Large entitled 'Giving and receiving criticism'. Barbara is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Winchester. She lectures in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester and is also the Director of the very successful annual Winchesters Writers' Conference. Barbara spoke with energy on the importance of criticism to a writer. We may all dread receiving feedback but she convinced us how our work can be improved and achieve publication through the acceptance and incorporation of criticism. Her talk was dotted with positive examples and stories of writers who reached their goals, with some warning tales of those who didn't listen to feedback and suffered as a consequence.
Barbara also shared many top tips on preparing your work for submission and getting a manuscript into the best possible shape. One new tip I took away was reading aloud and recording a story, then listening to the reading. I often read out my work but hadn't thought of recording the story. Listening to a spoken story really will highlight the clunky or overlong sentences, problems with dialogue and show up any lumps and bumps in the narrative rhythm. I'm going to try this out - if I can just sneak back the dictaphone from handsome hubby.