I think most authors would agree that at times it must. But we also need a little help from our friends. In my case, much of that help comes from my family; my husband, daughter, and brother are all writers. But as wonderful as these people are, they love me, so when I ask their opinion of a passage, they are unlikely to tell me it stinks.
My writers group is not always so diplomatic. I was struggling with the opening for my new Gracie McIntyre mystery. For some reason, I find that to be one of the hardest parts of the novel to get right. I had written and scrapped several attempts, and finally had a chapter that I thought would do the trick . . . until I took it to a meeting of the Bethlehem Writers Group.
"It's death, Carol!" one member said.
Okay, it's a mystery, but that wasn't quite what I was going for. I was hoping for a great hook, or perhaps a chapter with a lot of potential. But no. It was just plain bad.
I had to laugh. That particular member never pulls her punches, but if my skin is too thin to handle that, then perhaps I'm in the wrong business. And isn't it better that I found out then?
I scrapped that chapter, of course, and took a completely new tack, starting the novel in a different place altogether. No one who reads the book will ever know how bad it might have been. Of course, if it had stayed that bad, no one would read the book at all!
So thank you members of the Bethlehem Writers Group for your support, your insight, your editorial judgment . . . and even your bluntness!