Sorry for the late post. In my defense, some personal things happened that completely occupied me and I forgot.
I've been the member of OWW for years. I highly recommend it. But there are some drawbacks to kicking your work out there to be reviewed.
Having your work critiqued can shorten the writing apprenticeship for years. But here is another side of it. Critique is addictive. Extremely addictive. It's like writer crack*. You can train yourself to like receiving critique and critiquing others so much, you will stop producing when the critiques dry up. That's the kiss of death. You must produce copy. You don't write, you don't eat.**
There is another negative: critique of an early work can cause writer to alter the work, veering from the original vision and not always in a good way. Leigh Brackett, for instance, refused to show the manuscripts even to her husband until they were completed.
You have to figure out what kind of writer you are. Are you easily swayed by praise or discouragement? Do you know what you're aiming to achieve with your story? Can you kick it out there, take criticism, and distill useful information?
Relatively early in my "career"***, I received feedback from a professional writer for whom I have greatest respect. And made a deliberate decision to ignore it. It was probably one of the better decisions I had made and possibly one of the hardest. I didn't do it because I thought her points weren't valid. I did it because my vision for the book differed from hers.
That is another very useful side effect of critique: you learn that you shouldn't try to please everyone. Each reader brings their unique personality to the story and what they get out of it will not necessarily be what you wrote. The more skilled is the writer, the smaller is the difference between what he meant to put down on paper and what his audience reads.
But again, critique can be extremely useful.
Let me show you some critique of my kissy scene. This was done by a professional writer, who generously donated her time to make my latest proposal much better.
"And if I say no?"
"I will probably beg," he said. "I was really hoping for yes." - Comment - Now there's sexy for you, g
"I don't want to see you beg. So I say yes. You have my royal permi-..."
Morgan leaned to her and his mouth covered her. His lips were hot and soft, and he kissed her so gently, it took her breath away. His touch was tentative, probing, and she opened her lips and let him into her mouth. His tongue brushed the edge of her teeth. She closed her eyes and just as she melted into the kiss, he withdrew. - Comment - It's a good start…either to kissing or to a dental cleaning. Put emotion in there, more talking. Where are their hands? Is he touching her neck? How does that make her feel?
She lost herself to him, intoxicated by his taste, seduced by his want, by the strength in his arms and longing in his eyes, and when they broke apart, she knew she had to get out of the car, because her mind and body had turned into an aching, needy whole, yearning to feel him, to taste his skin, to feel his weight on her and his hard length inside her. - Comment - Lots of telling...
This is what I'm looking for in a critique - honesty. Critique like that is aimed at helping me produce a better product. It's to the point, unapologetic, and it tells me simply, "Look. Problem here. Problem here. Over here too." This is what I am looking for. Your mileage may and will vary.
So in conclusion my tips:
1) Don't follow critique blindly
2) Put your ego on a shelf for the time being
3) If more than two people stumble in a particular spot, don't explain how brilliant you are. Fix it.
* hush, Anton, not the anatomical crack. Heinies have nothing to do with it.
** For most peoples, it's not that dire, but the point is the same. Critiquing isn't writing.
*** Very loose term here...:p The whole story is on my lj