Critique groups are great, but having other writers critique your writing only goes so far. After all, you’re writing for readers, not writers. Readers will tell you what’s enjoyable, what’s confusing, and what needs work. They don’t focus on the “rules of writing” or other unnecessary bits. 🙂
However, my favorite editors aren’t even readers. They don’t step into my stories with any sort of formula built into their heads. Their expectations are… nonexistent. And to be honest, their feedback is spot-on.
My number one all-time favorite editor is my new husband. He probably owns three books. Total. Yet we bond over my books, somehow. Any time spent in the car is time spent on my books. But instead of having him read them, which he can’t stand to do, I read to him. As we go, he inserts comments, complains about characters, and asks questions when he’s confused. His comments are like little gold nuggets dropped along a path, and I’m eager to scoop them up. He’s blunt and honest, practical and realistic. He’s not trying to please me (after all, he already won me! 🙂 )
Another of my favorite editors is more of a brainstormer. This friend doesn’t really read fiction, but we talk through plots and come up with new ideas. He approaches these brainstorming sessions as a mathematician, a scientist, and a theologian. He tells me how A + B can’t equal C, therefore the plot needs to change. He tells me my interpretation of a certain Scripture isn’t quite what it should be. And while he’s an odd choice for a brainstorming friend, no writer friend has yet matched his abilities.
I could go on forever listing all the non-writers who have provided me with research help, editing skills, and brainstorming power. But the point is, it’s healthy to move outside the rut. Get ideas from those who aren’t exactly like-minded and you’ll have a wealth of talents to draw from.
Don’t limit yourself to help from people who think just like you. Make your writing as colorful and diverse as the variety of readers who will pick it up.